Sustainable Management of Intensively Used Ecosystems/Landscapes

In Indonesia, commuters pay for the bus with plastic waste

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RESIDENTS of Indonesia’s second largest city Surabaya can now pay for the bus in a novel way – by trading in used plastic.

The city’s mayor Tri “Risma” Rismaharini last month announced the roll out of the new Suroboyo Bus, comfortable, air-conditioned buses which are, importantly, accessible for disabled, elderly and pregnant passengers.

While the buses might be shiny and new, passengers are invited to pay for their rides not just with money, but with plastic they turn in at designated bus stops and recycling stations around the city.

“Passengers can travel around Surabaya for two hours for free,” Risma said as quoted by Indonesia’s Antara Newsagency. The government seeks to reduce private vehicles – which currently consist of 75 percent of traffic on the roads – to 50/50 with public transportation.

Indonesia produces 187.2 million tonnes of plastic waste each year, making it the second biggest marine polluter in the world behind only China.

Surabaya’s government intends to process the plastic into useful goods. “This is our commitment in handling plastic waste that cannot be destroyed for hundreds of years,” added Risma.

Back in 2015, Risma was recognised as one of the world’s best mayors “for energetically promoting her social, economic and environmental policies in Indonesia’s second-largest city.”

The previous year, she closed down one of Southeast Asia’s largest red-light district known as Dolly and turned much of the area into kindergartens and playgrounds.

Risma has also overseen the establishment of public parks in a number of unused public spaces which provide WiFi, libraries and sport facilities.

Indonesia has also trialled building roads out of recycled plastic, rolling them out in Surabaya along Jakarta and Bekasi.