Looking after the environment is paying off in Ecuador, at least for public transport users in the business hub of Guayaquil.
A new scheme aimed at combatting garbage and pollution allows people to exchange recyclable plastic bottles for money to buy bus tickets.
The port city, in Ecuador’s southwest, is the second most populous city in the country with 2.7 million inhabitants, but it generates the most waste.
Passengers who use the city’s bus transit system, Metrovia, are now queueing at a newly installed machine, waiting to unload their plastic bottles for two cents each, which they can spend on public transport.
“Imagine: Two cents (a bottle) for 15 bottles you get 30 cents, that’s already a Metrovia ticket,” said bus passenger Cristian Cardenas.
It’s proving more profitable than selling the bottles to a recycling center, Washington Bravo told AFP.
The 76-year-old pensioner lives outside Guayaquil, a $9 taxi ride into town. He makes the walk once a week, collecting plastic bottles from garbage cans and the streets along his way.
Guayaquil produces 4,200 tons of waste a day, only 14 percent of which is recyclable.
“The city is full of corruption and dirty. Before it wasn’t like this, it was cleaner,” he said.