I was walking with a student in the college yesterday, and a man road past in his tricyle with his card loaded with assorted items, and on the top were 30 or so plastic bottles which had come from the canteen - cooking oil bottles. They were all held together by string and sat precariously on the top of the load. He rode over a bump and the bottles fell to the ground. He stopped and picked them up and placed them again on top of his load.
The students said. "He is making a lot of money, collecting things to recycle. Do you have men doing this in the west?"
I explained to her that certainly in Australia we have a very industrious recycling program - but we don't have men going around collecting things on tricycles. I explained to her that the local council came once a week to our homes to collect our rubbish, and that we had two big bins. One for recycling. I explained how the big trucks take it to a recycling station where it was all sorted.
Here in this city - men and women on tricycles, with a small tray on the back do the recycling. They come into housing complexes, businesses, and this college and go through the rubbish and sort it out. Sometimes you will see on the side of the road a big pile of rubbish and several "recyclers" going through it.
A common sight is a man riding with a huge load - perhaps it is cardboard, perhaps it is bottles, perhaps it is just paper. They take it somewhere - we know not where at this stage - and get paid. Hard working recyclers make good money apparently, but I see it is mainly older folk that do it.
Each country has its own way of dealing with the piles of excess material. And I am fascinated and impressed by the way it is dealt with here. Mind you, one of the sad realities is that the stuff that no one wants - is then left somewhere, in a pile, perhaps on a deserted plot of land, or on the side of the road.
(ps. Thank you for your comment, Kloggers.)