The Garbage Café in Ambikapur, India is helping to feed the poor and homeless through their new payment initiative, plastic garbage. The café offers hot meals for 1 kilo of plastic waste collected or a hearty breakfast for 500 grams. Users have said the café helps them to eat when their wages are not enough while the city and the Municipal Corporation benefits from cleaner streets. This is not a novel idea with similar recycling initiatives appearing all over the world, however, Ambikapur’s Garbage Cafe has a twist. The plastic collected by the cafe is put to use building roads in the area. One road made of asphalt and plastic has already been constructed and others are planned. The plastic road not only puts plastic waste to good use, it is also more resistant to water damage from heavy rain and flooding.
The initiative has been so successful similar projects are appearing all over India and there are hopes that the cafe can open a hostel and homeless shelter that offers a place to stay in exchange for garbage collecting. However, the city aims to phase out single-use plastics by 2022 meaning this initiative can only be a temporary solution for both waste management and people in need in Ambikapur raising the question of the future of the Garbage Café and its users.