Credit by Suroboyo Bus ©
Photos: Pay for your bus ride in Surabaya by recycling a plastic bottle
URBAN LIFE Indonesia

Photos: Pay for your bus ride in Surabaya by recycling a plastic bottle

By: Ahmad Cholis Hamzah*

Many countries have aware of the danger of environment due to chemical substance, pollution, domestic as well as industrial wastes and have been trying hard to find appropriate ways to cope with such environmental problems.

In several districts/cities in Indonesia there are societal movements to educate people to be aware of environmental disasters for their own safety and healthy, among others “Garbage Bank” where public could send their garbage in return of financial benefits from the bank such as they could save their proceed as a result of this activity; furthermore, then the Bank could also provide scholarships to kids from poor families as its “Social Responsibility”.

Suroboyo Bus |
Suroboyo Bus |

Other smart movement in dealing with environment problems has been pioneered by city of Surabaya just recently. The city government is totally aware that plastic waste from domestic and industrial activities could harm public health. It was reported that four of Indonesia’s rivers rank among the 20 most polluted in the world in terms of mismanaged plastic waste measured in metric tons. This makes Indonesia the second-largest contributor to marine plastic pollution after China. A recent research article, published in the journal Nature Communications, estimates that between 1.15 million and 2.41 million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans every year from rivers. Of this, Indonesia is estimated to emit around 200,000 tonnes of plastic from rivers and streams, mainly from Java and Sumatra.

The city mayor, a down-to earth lady Tri Rismaharini, a City Planner by education has found a brilliant idea on how to increase public awareness to cope environmental problem in this case plastic waste by launching beautiful City Bus Tour in which public in all level of societies could be on board the bus and at the same time enjoy city tour by only surrender three used plastic bottle to bus driver in return of bus tickets. A similar approach is also introduced in Beijing China where 34 reserved vending machines are installed in subway stations. When a passerby inserts an empty plastic bottle, the machine’s sensor scans it to assess the value of the plastic – anywhere from 5 to 15 cents – and spits out a public transportation credit ir extra mobile phone minutes.

Tri Rismaharini, the mayor of Surabaya |
Tri Rismaharini, the mayor of Surabaya |

The lady mayor is indeed widely known nationally as well as internationally a leading figure that transforms Surabaya as a second largest city in Indonesia from its slum condition into a beautiful city that full of parks, clean rivers, clean city pedestrians and empowers poor people to enter entrepreneurship movement. She often rejects the “offer” to run her candidacy as Jakarta and East Java governors for she has strong commitment to build Surabaya.

Eradicating environmental problems could use law enforcement by imposing certain fine for those who violating environmental regulations; however, it would be not enough and effective if it is imposed to a country like Indonesia where many people have different background of ethnicities and education. It has been known in Indonesia since in the bygone day that civil norm and regulation have been easily accepted by people if such norms are introduced using local wisdoms such as local puppet show, local drama and singing performance.

City parks of Surabaya | Humas Surabaya
City parks of Surabaya | Humas Surabaya

Surabaya City government already has enough local law regarding environment that was passed by city parliament; yet the newly launched City Tour Bus is another smart form of cultural approach in coping environmental issues instead using law enforcement. It could attract people awareness on protecting environment and at the same time provide leisure experience exploring city grandeur sights.

So far this newly introduced method of protecting environment has attracted more people to show their contribution to the city and at the same time increase their awareness to boost city tourism. Thus this City Tour Bus is a form of attracting people to involve in city economic development based on their free own will instead of a coerced regulation.

*A Special Staff of Rector of
Airlangga University Surabaya
On International Affairs.


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