Sure We Can

Sure We Can is a non-profit redemption center and community hub based in Brooklyn, New York.[3][4]

Sure We Can
TypeNon-Profit Organization
FoundedBrooklyn, NY, 2007
FounderAna Martinez de Luco[1]
Eugene Gadsden[2]
Area served
New York City
ServicesProviding redemption services


Sure We Can (SWC) was founded in 2007 by a group led by Ana Martinez de Luco and Eugene Gadsden to serve the canning community of New York.[4] The facility is designed with canners, the people who collect cans and bottles from the streets, in mind; aiming to provide a welcoming place they can redeem their cans and bottles.[5] Sure We Can is the only non-profit, homeless-friendly redemption center in New York City.[5] In 2019, the center annually processes 10 million cans and bottles for redemption, and serves a community of over 400 canners.[5] Sure We Can estimates that they distribute $700,000 per year to canners.[6] The average canner who visits Sure We Can earns $1000 per year.[7]

In 2020, Sure We Can faces eviction by their landlord, who is interested in selling the lot they have rented for 10 years. Currently, the organization is seeking funding from the city to buy the land.[8][9]

Stacks of sorted bottles & cans wait to be picked up for recycling


Sure We Can provides container-deposit redemption services to the Brooklyn, NY area.[4] The organization also serves as a community hub for environmental and sustainability issues, including producing and distributing compost, as well as advancing political issues related to the environment.[10][11][12]

In 2021, Sure We Can worked with the Street Vendor Project to release a study documenting the impact of COVID-19 on canners and street vendors, whose income dwindled during restrictions even as these informal workers were ineligible for government support.[13]

Sure We Can employee holds a sample sheet of the upcycled plastic film product the redemption center is working on.


  1. ^ Berardi, Francesca (1 March 2019). "Meet the street nun helping people make a living from New York's cans". The Guardian.
  2. ^ "Recycling center in Brooklyn creates community while serving those in need". National Catholic Reporter. 26 July 2016.
  3. ^ Kilgannon, Corey (2015-06-19). "A 'Street Nun' Who Specializes in Redemption". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-23.
  4. ^ a b c Bartfeld, Noa (26 September 2016). "Toxic Site: Sure We Can". Medium.
  5. ^ a b c "Sure We Can - Scrap Yard in Brooklyn,New York, United States". ScrapMonster.
  6. ^ Davenport, Emily (2020-06-23). "Brooklyn-based recycling coalition calls for funding from City Council • Brooklyn Paper". Brooklyn Paper. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  7. ^ "VICE - NYC's Last Non-Profit Can Redemption Center Is Fighting to Stay Open". Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  8. ^ "City's Only Nonprofit Recycling Center Faces Eviction". Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  9. ^ "VICE - NYC's Last Non-Profit Can Redemption Center Is Fighting to Stay Open". Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  10. ^ Watt, Cecilia (2019-03-01). "New York's canners: the people who survive off a city's discarded cans". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  11. ^ "Canners Versus the City–The Fight Over Your Empties". Brooklyn Based. 2014-04-24. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  12. ^ "In the shadow of Brooklyn's luxury apartments, "canners" form a tight-knit community". Mic. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  13. ^ "Press Release: New Report on NYC Street Vendors and Canners Reveals Depth of COVID Exclusion on Informal Workforce | WIEGO". Retrieved 2021-02-06.

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