Planet Ark News - Plastic waste for transport?
Planet Ark News

Plastic waste for transport?

Date: 04-Dec-18
Author: Liam Taylor

Need to get across town? These cities let you pay in plastic bottles. Image: Steve Johnson/Unsplash © Steve Johnson/Unsplash

Need to get across town? These cities let you pay in plastic bottles. Image: Steve Johnson/Unsplash

Three cities in developing nations are leading the way on plastic waste with innovative schemes that allow their citizens to keep moving.

Firstly, Istanbul’s biggest metro station has introduced reverse vending machines where one can return recyclable cans and bottles in exchange for credit on their city transportation pass (Istanbul card). The purpose is to encourage long-term recycling habits amongst residents of the city, with the government intent on scaling up the scheme over the coming months. The plan is to introduce over 100 more machines at 25 locations throughout the city before the year’s end.

Indonesia’s second biggest city, Surabaya, also announced a scheme allowing payment for public transport with plastic waste earlier this year. The city introduced a new fleet of low-emission buses in an attempt to foster greater uptake of public transport amongst residents and followed it up by allowing residents to trade in used plastic in exchange for rides on the fleet.

Finally, the Beijing Metro train service has accepted plastic bottles as payment for rides within the inner city for over five years now! Ticket machines have been combined with reverse vending machines to allow residents to trade in their plastic bottles to get a free commute.

These initiatives may seem limited in scope but the combined populations of these three cities alone is over 35 million people. That is greater than the population of Australia!

Perhaps even more significantly, Surabaya and Beijing are among the largest cities of Indonesia and China respectively. These two nations are the world’s biggest plastic polluters, accounting for almost 40% of mismanaged plastic waste globally. If we are to successfully curb the disturbing trends in marine plastic pollution, initiatives like these in developing countries will be a crucial part of that transition.


Positive Action

  • Visit Recycling Near You, Australia’s biggest database of recycling information, to find out how to correctly dispose of items in your local area.
  • Want to find out more about Australia’s container deposit schemes? Use our interactive map to discover more information about the container deposit scheme in your state.


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes. 

Liam                                              Taylor

Author: Liam Taylor

Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.
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