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Liquor bottles can now be returned empty for a deposit in Ontario, a policy that has sparked a cottage industry of people who sift through curbside recycling bins looking for them. ((CBC))

The LCBO's new bottle return policy has been a success, asthe liquor board estimates about 60 per cent of its bottles are being returned — though not necessarily by the original purchaser.

Many households still put wine and liquor bottles in their blue boxes because it's easier than taking them to the Beer Storeto collectthe 10-cent or 20-cent bottle deposit.

That has created a new breed of entrepreneur: bottle collectors now prowl Toronto neighbourhoods harvesting a source of income.

Glass bottles, bag-in-box, Tetra Paks, plastic bottles and aluminum and steel containers are allready for the picking.

"There are people doing it for a living and they are making money off it," said Toronto resident Joe Bell.

Denis Mullette is one of them.He said he goes out on his bicycle at about 10 every night looking for bottles. "It all depends on how much stuff I can get a hold of before everyone else does."

The next day Mullette rides his bike to the Beer Store carrying his backpack filled with wine and liquor bottles.He said thecompetition is fierce.

"A lot more people are out there collecting now because there's more money. I can make up to $40-$50, it all depends if you have one of those shopping carts, but I don't, Ijust keep putting it in my backpack, bringing it home, going back out again."

The City of Toronto encourages residents to call a hotline to report anyone picking through blue boxes.Those caught can be fined up to $105 for violating a bylaw that prohibits scavenging.

But in the last five years not a single person has been charged. The bylaw, officials said, is too difficult to enforce.