Mexico City — Mexico City's government has introduced a bartering system in an effort to persuade its citizens to separate domestic waste.
May 13 was the fifth time the city's authorities organized an open-air market where people were able to exchange PET, glass, paper, cardboard, Tetra Pak cartons and vegetable oil for fruit and vegetables, all grown locally.
"The idea of this educational program is to demonstrate tangibly and directly that what we consider to be garbage can be converted into raw material if the solid waste is separated adequately," Mexico City's environment secretariat said on its website.
The market was set up next to the Casa de Cultura on the edge of the Tlalpan Forest, a heavily wooded area covering 635 acres in the southern part of the Mexican capital. It lasted from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.
"Furthermore, this initiative foments the culture and economics of recycling and contributes to minimizing the amount of waste collected by garbage trucks," said a secretariat spokesperson.
According to the secretariat, all the agricultural products bartered in Tlalpan were produced in the Mexico City boroughs of Xochimilco, Tlahuac and Milpa Alta. Attendees were allowed to barter a maximum of 22 pounds of waste per person.
The vegetable oil was of interest to Biofuels of Mexico SA de CV, of Mexico City, which converts it into biodiesel.
The capital's 66-member legislative assembly made domestic garbage separation obligatory in 2017, but the authorities have delayed penalizing transgressors "to allow for as many residents as possible to be made aware of recycling and its benefits."
City officials may also have had an eye on upcoming mayoral and legislative elections in the city on July 1.
Mexico City generates 12,000 metric tons of waste a day, of which only 12 percent is recycled, the authorities say.