Anyone living or doing business in downtown Calgary can now sign up to have their refundables picked up for free by one of their friendly, neighbourhood bottle pickers.

"Our hope is that informal recyclers in the downtown core can have access to safer and friendlier pickups — and more pickups," said Kate Letizia, founder of Calgary Can.

Which explains why the service is called PICK'd.

It launched as a pilot project on March 1 and if there's enough interest, Calgary Can will eventually dispatch bottle pickers to other areas in the city.

To sign up, you just have to fill out an online form indicating the date, time and the approximate amount of refundables you have. 

Once you've done that, informal recycler will show up at your door, by foot, as early as the next day.

Building bridges

When it comes to recycling refundables in Calgary, there is already a well-oiled system in place — bottle depots, private companies and the city's blue cart system.

Cans recycling

A Calgary company is trying to line up bottle-pickers with residents and businesses that want to get rid of their refundables. (CBC)

But Letizia said the PICK'd program goes a step further.

"We're trying to create a bridge between bottle pickers and your regular Calgarian … And help them to see their environmental contribution."

She said the service also supports the livelihood of pickers and gives them easier and safer access to more refundables.

"[Bottle pickers] are currently having to dig through garbage cans to obtain the refundables."

Letizia said that can be "pretty dangerous work" if they come across sharp objects like glass or needles.

"It's not very much fun and it's something they have to go through on a daily basis."

Right now, the pilot project is servicing Mission, Cliff Bungalow, Sunalta, Chinatown, Bridgeland, Sunnyside and Inglewood.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener