Plastic Bottles And Thumbs Up

Young men thumbing up happily
Shot in Jakarta, Indonesia Tetsu Ozawa

Two young men working at a plastic bottle collection station happily gave a thumbs up

When the landscape has changed inexplicably, it's not always clear whether it was like that from the beginning, or whether I didn't notice the change because I'm in a daze. The same was the case when I was walking along a riverside street in Jakarta. What should have been a row of simple dwellings turned out to be a perfect garbage collection station.

Certainly there were places where it was hard to tell whether they were junk or warehouses where someone's belongings were stored. But there was a pile of empty plastic bottles in front of me now, and for all intents and purposes, it was a place to collect used plastic bottles.

Puzzled, I looked around the collection station and saw two young men working quietly. When I pointed the camera at them, they both seemed to enjoy giving me a thumbs-up. Even in Jakarta, plastic bottles are common, and in a city with a population of more than 10 million, there must be a significant number of discarded plastic bottles. But, fortunately, or unfortunately, plastic bottles are sold at a relatively high price, so they seem to be collected and recycled in this way.

Incidentally, in Indonesia, there is a system called "Garbage Bank" run by the community. The garbage bank collects and sorts plastics, including plastic bottles, and sells them to wholesalers after they are separated. What is slightly different about the Garbage Bank, however, is that the people who bring in their trash are asked to write down the purchase price in their bank book and can convert it into cash at a later date.

It's a good example of how the private sector can build a system that allows for recycling if a price is charged for the trash. But not all trash has a price. What should we do with the priceless or non-priceless trash? The taxpayers will have to pay for it, after all.


Where is Jakarta?




Shooting Date

Jan 2020

Posted On

November 26, 2020


Jakarta, Indonesia


Street Photography