GUAYAQUIL, August 22 -- 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 south-west, 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 is proving more profitable than selling the bottles to a recycling centre, Washington Bravo told AFP. The 76-year-old pensioner lives outside Guayaquil, a US$9 (S$12.45) 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 tonnes of waste a day, only 14 per cent of which is recyclable. "The city is full of corruption and dirty. Before it wasn't like this, it was cleaner," he said.