THE 21m residents of Mexico City have far too much rubbish and not enough healthy food. Now they can swap one for the other. A new monthly market run by the city government takes paper, glass, plastic and aluminium in return for tokens that can be swapped for locally grown food and plants. Since it began in March the “Barter Market” in Chapultepec park has exchanged 140 tonnes of rubbish for 60 tonnes of produce.
The market is a small step towards tackling a big waste problem. In January piles of rubbish built up after a landfill closed. It had received up to 12,600 tonnes of trash a day, and was the size of 450 football pitches. The muck-up will not be the last unless households get better at recycling. “We want people to learn that rubbish is not rubbish,” says Paola de María y Campos, a city official who helped set up the market.