New year, new blogpost! When we started our project Global Pioneers last year, we set ourselves different goals that we want to achieve. The main goal is to find and support ambitious and innovative ideas coming from young people all around the globe. To connect with those people, we reach out to them on every possible channel. One of those being our website with our blog. From now on we want to present different approaches on tackling waste issues. We try to give a new perspective as well as bring in and share new ways of thinking. New perspectives can hopefully unlock unforeseeable potential in the minds of those people affected by the waste problematic. Maybe you find yourself being one of the people mentioned above and we can inspire you to pursue your ideas.

But enough of that! Let us tell you something about what we find is an extraordinary way of recycling!

Surabaya, Indonesia

Have you ever heard of Surabaya? No? Then it is time that we introduce you to Surabaya. Surabaya is the second largest city of Indonesia and is located in the north of the main island Java. With an urbanization rate of 4.1% Indonesia is the most rapidly urbanizing country in Asia. Fast developing urbanization, for example taking place in Surabaya, entails environmental challenges such as increasing levels of waste generation. While 2.7 million inhabitants are living in the city, it is obvious that waste generation is becoming a bigger issue every day. Each day 1,512 tons of solid waste are generated in Surabaya of which only 1,281 tons are landfilled. To counteract this trend, Surabaya has taken some efforts in the context of the city’s initiative to become plastic waste-free by the year 2020.

“Plastic to ride”

Since April 2018 citizens of Surabaya can now bring empty plastic bottles to the city-bus stations and pay for their ride with the waste they collected. 5 plastic bottles equal a two-hour bus ride. Every bus can store up to 550 pounds of plastic bottles. After the plastic bottles are collected, labels and bottle caps are removed and the bottles are sold to recycling companies. The proceeds are used to support the running of the bus operations and further developing „green projects“ in the city.

Surabaya bus

Not only will this measure raise societal awareness for the waste problematic in general, it also helps to make the streets cleaner in two different ways. On the one hand, it is possible that people are encouraged to refrain from taking their private vehicles and take the bus. This will result in a less (air)-polluted city. On the other hand the streets will be less flooded with plastic waste because citizens will pick it up to pay their bus ride with it.

Pioneer role of Indonesia

Other cities around the world have meanwhile adapted the Indonesian pioneer project. The Istanbul Metropolian Municipality has already installed 25 vending machines and will also soon accept plastic bottles as a way of payment for public transportation similar to the model in Indonesia.

The most important thing about this project is that it adds value to (plastic) waste and thus shifts the perspective so that (plastic) waste will be treated differently than before. The presented project shows that a high waste generation can be managed in an innovative manner if the right ideas are implemented.

If this
motivated you to pursue your idea on tackling waste issues, you are welcome to contact
us. We want to support and guide you on your way of developing these ideas.
Therefore we brought our project Global
to life. Join our startup competition and get the chance to win
funding as well as an invitation to our workshop in Berlin. We are looking
forward to hear from you and your idea!

Also make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. More information about the project and the application process can be found on our website: