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13 September, 2020 06:39:14 PM

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Bartering garbage for foods or cash!

The efficient collection of garbage can minimize environmental pollution and increase recycling opportunity. The garbage collection and recycling efficiency is high in technologically advanced countries such as the United States, Japan, Germany, China and Australia
Ohidul Alam
Bartering garbage for foods or cash!

“Garbage for foods or cash” is an innovative idea that is compatible for Bangladesh and also for the developing countries. It can improve simultaneously garbage collection efficiency and recycling opportunity, leading to reduction of disposal cost.
Due to the rapid population growth and economic advancement, the volume of daily generated garbage has surged up in Bangladesh.

The urban centres together generate about 23,688 tons of municipal garbage daily. However, the capacity of garbage collection has not increased yet due to the financial crisis and lack of sufficient infra-structure which is accelerated by high illiteracy rate. A large amount of garbage remains uncollected due to inappropriate collection of garbage which pollutes the environment and the resource recovery opportunity is lost.
The efficient collection of garbage can minimize environmental pollution and increase recycling opportunity. The garbage collection and recycling efficiency is high in technologically advanced countries such as the United States, Japan, Germany, China and Australia. It is very tough task to promote garbage collection efficiency in the developing countries. Bangladesh government has already implemented many related projects in order to increase garbage collection efficiency. However, it is still unfruitful.
During childhood, we would exchange discarded metals, plastics, paper, cloths and rubbers with kotkoti, fried gram, fried nut, puffed rice, batasha and cotton candy from rural hawkers. Those foods were so tasty, so we would collect and store scraps in order to buy more such tasty foods from the hawker. Subconsciously, it would encourage us to keep the rural environment neat and clean by diverting recyclable garbage from being illegally dumped on roadside, fallow lands and canals.

In town, many women buy household items from hawkers bartering discarded cloths, plastics, metals and papers. Consequently, they divert a large amount of garbage being dumped in the dump sites. In addition, some sellers ask customers to return consumed plastics bottles or cans in exchange of cash in some VIP areas like airport and shopping malls.

Low garbage collection efficiency is a big problem for the urban centers in Bangladesh. During 2015-16, I thought how mass people could be encouraged to ensure source segregation and accordingly storage of garbage at household level rather than forcing them to do it? Then I got a solution of it that was – bartering of recyclable garbage in cash. It is really a win-win project for both trash generators and the environment, by resolving waste management problem.

The similar concept already introduced in some Asian, African and American developing countries. For example, the Garbage Café was opened in 2019 in Ambikapur, India. This Garbage Café offers food in exchange for discarded plastics. The more the waste, the better the taste, that's the motto of a café in India. This concept is also implemented in some other regions such as Siliguri, West Bengal and Mulugu, Telangana. This concept is based on providing free meal bartering one kilo of plastics or half kilo plastics for breakfast. Some schools are also implementing same projects by distributing free foods to anyone who deposits half a kilo of plastic waste.

Furthermore, town authorities of some provinces give one kilo of rice in return for one kilo of plastics. As a result, local school children also go around collecting plastics.
In Nigeria, there is also a similar project entitling “eTrash2Cash_exchange trash for cash!” eTrash2Cash is a platform that helps extremely low-income people, especially women earn and save money from their trash, which they use to better their living. In turn, eTrash2Cash generates revenue and become sustainable through reprocessing and recycling the garbage into sustainable and reusable products for sale.
Both the strict regulations and high literacy rate ensures the high garbage collection efficiency in the developed countries. The technologically advanced countries have different concepts like vending machines turn trash into treasure in China. Everyone is familiar with the vending machine that spits out a can of coke or a bag of skittles. Such machines are available on subway, education institution, tourist spots, shopping malls, railway stations and airport. Turning trash into treasure encourages the public to recycle and sort garbage.

However, it is not possible to implement strict regulations in Bangladesh due to high illiteracy rate and poverty. Considering the current problems and prospects, garbage for foods or cash is very suitable concept for Bangladesh. As a trial, the government can implement it in few wards of Dhaka and Chittagong cities. The first reason of this project is to help reduce extreme poverty in low-income communities through garbage resources and secondly, to protect the environment from various kinds of pollution as well as creating awareness on key environmental issues. Thus, it can create zero-garbage societies that are sustainable and green in nature.

The “Garbage for foods or cash” concept can be implemented successfully in Bangladesh by adopting following policy: (i) exchange garbage with foods, (ii) bartering garbage in cash, (iii) exchange garbage with free Wifi, (iv) exchange garbage with tuition fee, and (v) exchange garbage with baby toys. "Trash for cash: Apps promote recycling through monetary rewards". The school-going children, and poor and unemployed people can be involved in such project. If government adopt such a project that garbage generators will be paid for per unit garbage then they must segregate and store properly garbage at household level. Furthermore, it can also create a lot of employment opportunities in the urban centres.  
Apparently, garbage has no economic value to generators, so they throw away them anywhere. If any third party pay them in exchange of garbage then they will be discouraged to dispose their daily generated garbage illegally. At the time, if a high amount of fine is applied to them who discharge their daily generated garbage illegally. Then they will be compelled to dump garbage through legal way. Local government or the department of environment should regularly monitor the garbage discharge activities of city dwellers.

The writer is a Ph.D. scholar in School of Resources and Environmental Engineering, East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai, China. e-mail: ohid776@gmail.com

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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