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Mexico City trades recyclables for food

Mexico – Owing to the fact that the 21 million residents of Mexico City are living with a waste surplus and a food deficiency, the city council has introduced a special market where people are invited to bring in recyclable materials and receive tokens that can be exchanged for vegetables and fruit.

The city’€™s ‘€˜barter market’€™ is a monthly event attracting a wide range of recyclables such as paper, glass, plastics and aluminium. Launched in March this year, the recycling initiative has seen 140 tonnes of recyclables swapped for 60 tonnes of produce. Each month, some 20 tonnes of material has been sent on to regional glass-makers, paper manufacturers and other businesses.

‘€˜We want people to learn that rubbish is not rubbish,’€™ says Paola de María y Campos, a city official who has been co-ordinating the market. She admits the project has yet to achieve break-even but emphasises its greater importance as a small step towards tackling a big waste problem.

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