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Watch: How plastic helps the homeless to survive | Left Field

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Watch: How plastic helps the homeless to survive | Left Field
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For some, recycling is all about being environmentally conscious. For others, it is a means of survival.

Juan, 48, is a professional plastic and metal collector, who on a daily basis depends on recyclables to support his family.

Homeless in California, Juan says he sees discarded plastic and metal as “money on the floor”.

He can spend between 12 and 15 hours in a single day searching for bottles and cans, which he takes to redeeming centres in exchange for cash.

But while this may seem like an effective relationship between the environment and Juan’s survival, what he and many others are doing is technically illegal in the US.

Watch the video above to see Juan’s full story.

See more from NBC News' Left Field documentary team.