A business model already exists with the social enterprise United We Can, founded by valoriste (binner) Ken Lyotier in mid 1990 in Vancouver. United We Can has been an advocate for marginalized people and the environment by providing people with support, training and employment of the “green collar” type.

Kenneth Lyotier, valoriste (binner) and founder of United We Can has won:

Civic Merit Award – City of Vancouver

Meritorious Service Medal, the Governor General

Member of Parliament – Community Voluntary Service

Provincial Award for Environmental Citizenship

Price Mosaic Immigrant Services

John Howard Society Award

Honorary Doctorate of Law, University of British Columbia

HRH Jubilee Medal

Among others …



In the 1980s, Mr. Lyotier earned extra money by binning, that is, looking for refundable containers that could be exchanged for cash in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. But he found that storekeepers were often reluctant to grant refunds for containers he found. This is what motivated Mr. Lyotier and friends to establish United We Can. They organized for five years to set up a bottle depot in the Downtown Eastside. They opened United We Can in 1995.

Today, this social enterprises recuperates and reimburses nearly 20 million containers per year. It has an annual budget of more than $ 3 million (2011). Every day, up to 700 valoristes use the depot services. Moreover, United We Can has expanded to include other companies such as bicycle repair shop and a community garden. United We Can has inspired similar efforts in cities across the world who strive to provide dignity and hope to those who need it most.