Revolutionary Diner in Indonesia Lets Patrons Pay for Food with Plastic Trash

The world needs more of these establishments!

To many of us, $25 (USD) is a little chunk of change. To the average resident in Semarang, Indonesia, it’s an entire month’s salary. Because of this, few Indonesian citizens can afford to eat out. Thanks to a husband and wife duo, however, this is no longer the case for many. Sarimin and Suyatmi own the Methane Gas Canteen. But rather than take money in exchange for food, they accept plastic trash.

As if the establishment wasn’t intriguing enough, it is actually located in the Jatibarang Landfill in Semarang, Central Java. Because the landfill is a mountain of purifying waste, locals spend a lot of time there scavenging goods to sell. Nearby, Sarimin and Suyatmi are busy cooking.

Poor scavengers can bring plastic waste to the restaurant and pay for their meals with the plastic trash. Not only does the method clean up the environment, it ensures the poverty-stricken have food to eat.

Credit: Channel NewsAsia

How does it work?

The restaurant seats approximately 30 people and serves meals that cost between $0.40 and $0.80 (USD) each. The dishes vary, but often include vegetable soups, mangut rice with catfish, and rice with boiled egg — as well as other traditional recipes, reports Oddity Central.

Saramin, who is 56-years-old, weighs the plastic customers bring in, calculates it worth, then deducts that value from the cost of the meal. Any surplus is refunded to the patron — meaning they can make money from their efforts.

Said Sarimin in an interview with Channel News Asia, “I think we recycle 1 tonne of plastic waste a day, which is a lot. This way, the plastic waste doesn’t pile up, drift down the river and cause flooding. This doesn’t only benefit the scavengers, it benefits everyone.”

Since opening the Methane Gas Canteen, the couple has seen their daily income surge to more than $15 (USD) a day. That’s a lot for Indonesian residents. Before they became cooks, they were scavengers, as well.

The former manager of Jatibarang Landfill, Agus Junaedi, came up with the idea for the restaurant in 2014. Around that time, Semarang’s mayor asked Junaedi to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the landfill. Approximately 40 percent of the 800 tonnes of waste dumped into the landfill daily is plastic and, therefore, non-biodegradable.

We think Junaedi came up with the perfect solution. However, there were challenges, as the price of plastic was relatively low around that time. He told Channel News Asia, “Naturally, no one wanted to collect plastic waste. So, we thought, why don’t we get the scavengers to pay for their meal with plastic waste.”

Junaedi continued, “We want to change the mindset, to see waste as a useful commodity. Hopefully, people would start recycling them and reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfill daily.”

The couple running the establishment couldn’t be happier. Said Sarimin, “I’m happy to see our customers enjoying their meals. The poor must also have the right to enjoy healthy eating. I want to give them that chance as much as possible.”

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Source: Oddity Central

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