The Informal Recycling Industry of Cologne
One strange feature I noticed when I was in Cologne was a significant number of reasonably well dressed people 'bin hoking' as we used to call it when we were kids. I was wondering what they were after until I perched on a wall by the river to give the boy his afternoon drink. Beside me were two empty beer bottles. After a bit a middle aged lady walked up and asked if they were mine. When I said no, she added them to her collection in two large carrier bags.
Germany introduced a compulsory deposit scheme in 2003 and as a result, single use bottles and cans are worth 25c. I assume the people I saw were making their living by collecting the deposits - there seemed to be loads of them doing it.
If we have any German readers, I'd be very interested in your views on the pros and cons of this.