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In Peru, litter becomes currency

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A recycling initiative has given citizens of Peru the chance to exchange litter for something useful -- 3D printed parts, services and items to make their lives a little easier.

Piles of plastic, whether it be bottles, bags or packaging, are a common sight in poorer areas of the world. In parts of Peru, naturally beautiful beaches are now ruined by this problem, caused by the cheap production and non bio-degradable properties of the material.

As there is no official service to clean up the mess, Canadian entrepreneur David Katz has come up with an interesting solution: make plastic a "currency" that people can spend.

Plastic Bank, a scheme that sets up plastic banks in poorer countries, aims to clear the world's waterways and beaches while also educating and improving the lives of those in poverty. The organization says that reusable plastics gathered by locals is exchanged for 3D-printed products, necessities and micro-finance loans, and it is hoped that through education, citizens may also use their own entrepreneurial edge to reuse the garbage in innovative ways.

In Peru, pickers will be able to exchange plastic for food, clothing, basic necessities and also use 3D printing labs to manufacture objects they want. The plastic, however, is shipped to an unnamed corporation that will reuse the material.

Katz told Fast. CoExist:

"If we can reveal the value in the things around us, then we can give people the opportunity to make a better life with that. Perhaps they're working with waste from a gas station and the mechanics need components they can print on site. It gives them an opportunity to take the waste out of the environment and make something worth $5, $10, or $20."

The first Plastic Bank in Peru will be opened in April 2015.

Via: Fast. CoExist

Image credit: Flickr

— By on January 13, 2014, 2:52 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure