Want to ride the bus in Rome? Better bring along those old water and soda bottles.

Putting 30 of the bottles into special vending machines at select bus stations gets you a ticket for a free bus ride.

In Surabaya, a port city of more than three million people on the Indonesian island of Java, five bottles or ten plastic cups net you a two-hour bus trip free of charge. Istanbul also has launched an initiative to swap plastic trash for travel passes.

TRENDPOST: The world is awash in a rising tide of plastic trash, only about 9 percent of which is recycled. Relying on people’s sense of responsibility to return the stuff for reprocessing isn’t working. To boost the public’s return of plastic waste, cities and companies are turning it into a thing of value. 

Cities are using plastic to boost trash collection and bus ridership at the same time. HP is paying Indonesian residents to collect plastic trash and hiring them to clean it for reprocessing into new computer cases and printer ink cartridges. HP is part of NextWave, a coalition of General Motors, IKEA, Herman Miller, and other manufacturers that are turning plastic gleaned from the oceans into new raw materials.

With money scarce not only for municipalities but also most of the world’s people, we’ll see more creative initiatives to turn what has been waste into things of value to achieve public benefits as well as personal gain.

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