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United We Can is a Vancouver-based non-profit organization that creates economic opportunities through environmental initiatives for people living in the Downtown Eastside. It was created by locals for locals who rely on recycling refundable beverage containers as their source of income.

Let’s work together

We produce results for our customers and community

Raised Annually to Support Workers
Containers Collected and Recycled Daily
Regular Customers Supported
Working Shifts Generated Per Year

United We Can now offers Return-It Express!

Return-It Express is a simple and convenient way to return your beverage containers for a refund! With Express, you no longer need to spend time counting and sorting your containers – bag them and drop them off at United We Can, located at 449 Industrial Ave, Vancouver, BC. We’ll do the rest!

Ready to use Express? Return your beverage containers in 4 simple steps:

  • Sign up for your free Return-It Express account by visiting and register with a phone number of your choice.

  • Bring your unsorted containers in sealed, clear or transparent bags of under 90-litre capacity to United We Can.

  • At the kiosk, use the phone number you registered with to log in and print one label per bag.

  • Tag each bag, and drop them off on the designated area.


Recycling Centre

Daily processing of 60,000+ beverage containers year-round supports a population of 600 to 700 recycling collectors in Vancouver’s inner-city community. The organization employs roughly 60 people in part-time and full-time jobs and refunds more than $2 million to its daily customers.

Walk-ins are welcome! Recycling all returnable containers is one of the easiest ways for your family, organization, or event to demonstrate its environmental commitment.

Commercial Collection

We offer easy, cost-effective collection services to local businesses. Our collection services are tailored to your business needs. We collect on a pre-confirmed schedule or on an on-call basis. No minimum pickup requirements!

Commercial trucks enable our team to collect directly from large volumes of commercial and residential customers in the Vancouver area. We are proud to be able to provide this “no charge” pick-up service:

  • Apartments
  • Bars & Pubs
  • Casinos
  • Hotels
  • Night Clubs
  • Restaurants
  • Schools
  • Stadiums
  • Theatres

How It Works

  1. Quick Sign-up – Sign up to see if your company is eligible for pickup services.
  1. Confirm Volume – Confirm the estimated volume for the first pick-up. This can be adjusted at any time.
  1. Confirm Pickup Schedule – Confirm the estimated number of pickups per month.
  1. Provide Access – Provide our bonded team access to the recyclable goods to ensure smooth and efficient pickups.
  1. Change Lives – It’s Simple. The more recycling clients we have, the more people we can employ!

Lane Cleaning

The lane cleaning program partners with the City of Vancouver, Mount Pleasant BIA, other Business Improvement Associations, and movie production companies to provide street and laneway micro-cleaning. Needle sweeping is an additional service offered. Both services employ individuals exclusively from the Downtown Eastside.

Daily service is provided to over 70 city blocks in targeted areas such as Mount Pleasant, Strathcona, Downtown Eastside, Chinatown and Gastown. Workers are dispatched in teams to walk the streets and laneways in the identified neighbourhoods to collect garbage, syringes, and other refuse.

Lane cleaning has improved the health and safety in the designated areas by reducing rodent infestation and fire hazards on local sidewalks, alleyways and green spaces. The program also reports any illegal dumping activities to the City of Vancouver.

If your business is interested in lane cleaning, please call Ian Roman 604-908-4404.

Donating recyclable beverage containers to United We Can helps to alleviate poverty.

United We Can has paved the path out of poverty for 28 years by creating jobs for those who may have difficulty finding and retaining employment. Our depot and staff offer employment, income earning opportunities and for those that seek it a purpose to be a part of a local sustainability solution.

How Can Your Business Support?

Become a Partner

The only cost to do business with United We Can is what you want to give! Hire United We Can as your chosen method for recycling. It’s a community that works. Have More Questions? Get in touch with us.

“Centerplate is delighted to partner with such a great venture as United We Can! We began our relationship in 2011 and quickly decided to donate ALL of our drink containers – which act as the perfect barometer for the economic impact of conventions in the city. This is a “good news story” that we continually share with our employees and with our clients from around the world. We challenge other large facilities to do the same!”

Andrew Pollard, Regional Vice President, Centerplate, Vancouver Convention Centre

Make a Donation

You can support United We Can by making a cash or recyclables donation, by signing your business up for our recycling collection service, and by buying advertising space on the side of our urban binning units.

Your support will help us continue our dual mission of creating opportunities by doing good for the planet. To find out how you can partner with United We Can, phone: 604-908-4404 or email:


Ian Roman

Administrative Manager

Ian Roman


Ian Roman manages the day-to-day and commercial operations at the United We Can. He is committed to the excellent community work that UWC does – and is particularly proud of the economic support that the program provides to the Downtown Eastside community.

Chris Bacon

Warehouse Manager

Chris Bacon

Chris coordinates our daily warehouse operations and staff members.

If you are interested in applying for a job at the Depot or with the Lane Cleaning Team, please complete the application form.


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