Built-in a former bus shelter, it provides a full meal in exchange for a pound of garbage, or free breakfast for 500 grams of waste.
Food in exchange for recycled plastic. India has just launched its first “garbage cafe”: built-in a former bus shelter and inspired by other similar projects in Belgium and Cambodia, it opens in the city of Ambikapur, in the central state of Chhattisgarh. Provides a full meal in exchange for a pound of garbage, or free breakfast for 500 grams of waste.
More than half of the 1.4 billion Indian citizens live in poverty: for many, managing to feed their families is a daily challenge. According to the Global Hunger Index 2018, India suffers from a level of hunger classified as “serious” and continues to have one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world. The approximately 195 million undernourished Indians represent a quarter of the global hunger burden, according to UN data.
But the country must also face the great problem of plastic waste: 26 thousand tons are generated every day. A kilo of plastic, which can usually be collected in a couple of hours, can be exchanged for a curry dish with rice, lentils and a papadum focaccia. For half a kilo, customers of the garbage cafe can instead receive a breakfast based on samosas, lentil buns or stuffed buns.
The collected plastic is then sent to a recycling plant that transforms it into granules, to be used for road paving. In India, especially in rural areas, there are more than 34 thousand kilometers of roads made of plastic: this type of material is increasingly popular because it makes the streets more resistant to the scorching temperatures of the country.
Just last year, the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, pledged to eliminate all disposable plastics by 2022. This promise represents an important goal because India’s economy is the fastest-growing one global. And, in 2015, only 14% of the plastic waste produced in the world was recycled.