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Indonesian scavengers scrape a living by recycling

WT24 Desk

JAKARTA – Sifting through piles of pungent trash in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, scores of men and women collect used plastic bottles with their bare hands and put them into big bags,AFP reports.

The scavengers earn small sums of money by selling plastic bottles and cups to companies who re-use them, a rare example of recycling in the teeming, polluted metropolis.

The capital of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy produces around 6,500 tonnes of rubbish a day but unlike many major cities does not have a well thought-out, official recycling system.

The majority of homes pay dump trucks to pick up their daily waste while many residents just throw litter on the roads or into fields. Much of the rubbish ends up in the main garbage dump outside Jakarta or the rivers that criss-cross the city, whose surfaces are typically blanketed with plastic bottles, bags and other waste.

Plastic in particular is a major problem — Indonesia is the second- largest source of plastic waste found in the world’s oceans after China, according to a study last year by the University of Georgia. The huge amount of waste in Jakarta also makes the city more vulnerable to flooding as it blocks up drainage systems.

However the situation is improving in some parts of the city of about 10 million, with the authorities having stepped up cleaning of main rivers in recent years.

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