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Plastic Waste as Tickets on Indonesia’s ‘Plastic Bus’

Indonesia is the world’s second-biggest marine polluter only next to China and therefore has pledged to reduce plastic waste in its waters, some 70% by 2025 by promoting raising public awareness, recycling and curbing the plastic usage.

Plastic Waste as Tickets on Indonesia’s ‘Plastic Bus’

As the world is struggling hard to fight the plastic menace, which has led to environmental disorder and which is going to prove havoc for the human race in the years to come, this is probably one of the solutions to deal with it. 

In the Indonesian city of Surabaya, people are seen clutching bags full of plastic bottles and disposable cups and queuing up at a busy bus terminal, where the passengers can swap trash for travel tickets.

Indonesia is the world’s second-biggest marine polluter only next to China and therefore has pledged to reduce plastic waste in its waters, some 70% by 2025 by promoting raising public awareness, recycling and curbing the plastic usage.

The exchange of plastic with travel tickets in Surabaya better known as the Surabaya scheme has been a hit in the city with a population of 2.9 million. According to authorities, nearly 16,000 passengers are trading trash for free travel each week now.

Fransiska Nugrahepi, a resident of the city says, “This is a very smart solution. It is free and instead of throwing away bottles people now collect them and bring them here”. 

An hour of bus ride with unlimited stops now costs three big plastic bottles, five medium bottles or 10 plastic cups. But the only condition is that they must be cleaned and are not squashed. 

In Surabaya, it is now a common sight, where a steady stream of people squeezing sacks full of recyclables plastic to deposit in the four bins kept behind the travel office and claim their bus tickets.

Surabaya Transport official, Franki Yuanus, says the programme aims not only to cut waste but also to tackle the traffic congestion in the city by encouraging people to switch to public transit. He says, “There has been a good response from the public. Paying with plastic is one of the things that has made people enthusiastic because up until now plastic waste was just seen as useless”.

At present Surabaya transport has the fleet, which consists of 20 new buses, each with recycling bins and ticket officers who also roam around and collect any leftover bottles. 

The Indonesian government has claimed that around six tons of plastic rubbish are collected from passengers every month before being auctioned to the recycling companies. Other parts of Indonesia, which is an archipelago of some 17,000 islands, are also trying to tackle this issue. 

Governments across the globe are increasingly taking measures to curb the menace of disposable plastic. According to an estimate, eight million tonnes of plastics enter oceans every year, disturbing and unbalancing the aquatic life, which ultimately led to the disturbance of the environment and every being on earth.


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