The Garbage Café
The Garbage Café in India is tackling the country's plastic crisis while also giving a hearty meal to the poor and the homeless.
Operating under the tagline, "more the waste, better the taste," the Garbage Café opened in Ambikapur, in the state of Chhattisgarh. A project from the municipal council, the café offers a hearty meal for one kilogram of collected plastic. The way it works is pickers bring their collected plastic to a waste management center that gives the collector a coupon. The coupon is then brought to the Garbage Café, which is located at the city's main bus stand, where the coupon is then exchanged for breakfast or lunch, according to The Times of India. Or, they bring the plastic to the café.
The city makes nearly $17,000 per month selling recycled plastic granules. It has also used recycled plastic to improve infrastructure. In 2015, the city built a road almost entirely made of plastic granules. The nearly one mile long road has held up to use even through monsoon season, according to the mayor. The collected plastic from the Garbage Café will be used to construct roads.
While the Prime Minister announced that India would start to phase out single-use plastic by 2022, the country struggles with the nearly 25,000 tons of plastic waste it creates every day. India lacks the infrastructure and waste management systems to separate plastic from general waste, as The Guardian reported. Ambikapur stands as an outlier with 100 percent door-to-door waste collection.
The city hopes to expand the operation, hoping to provide shelter to the homeless in exchange for collected trash.
The idea is starting to catch on in other parts of India. Municipal authorities plan to open a string of Garbage Cafés in the country's capital New Delhi. Nearly 70 percent of plastic waste in the capital is from single-use items. It often ends up in landfills or clogging drains, according to The Guardian.
It's extremely dangerous for hungry cows who graze in waste bins and consume plastic. Last year, a veterinarian in New Delhi removed over 150 pounds (ca. 68 kg) of plastic from a cow's stomach.
Of course the situation would improve drastically using natural eco-friendly reusable alternatives to single use plastic, in India and elsewhere.
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