Thousands of plastic bottles recycled for free bus trips in Abu Dhabi

A new initiative is encouraging eco-friendly travel in the capital

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Commuters receive points each time they deposit plastic bottles in a reverse-vending machine installed at Abu Dhabi’s main bus terminal.

The points are used to earn free public bus journeys.

About 70,000 plastic bottles have been recycled since the initiative was launched in March, said Ateeq Al Mazrouei, acting director of planning at the Integrated Transport Centre.

Each bottle measuring 600ml or less earns a point while larger containers or bottles exceeding 600ml earn two points.

Each point is worth 10 fils, so 10 points equal Dh1 ($0.27), which can be transferred to the Hafilat bus card.

The ITC automated payment system calculates the fare required for the trip and automatically deducts it from the cash value stored in the card via the tariff machines installed at bus entrances and exits. The bus fare in Abu Dhabi starts from Dh2.

Mr Al Mazrouei explained the goals of the “Points for Plastic: the Bus Tariff” initiative.

“First is to help the environment,” he said.

“Second, is to encourage public transport users to use buses more frequently. They should retain the bottles and get points to use public transport.”

Mr Al Mazrouei said the initiative was in line with the mission of Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi to encourage a culture of recycling single-use plastic bottles.

In September, the EAD placed “Big Zero” installations across the emirate as collection points for people to deposit single-use plastic bottles. It also launched a challenge called “Pile it Up” for Abu Dhabi schools to collect and return single-use plastic water bottles.

In June, the emirate imposed a ban on single-use plastic bags with major retailers. Single-use plastic bags cost 25 fils. The policy is designed to cut their use before they are banned entirely in two years.

The bus tariff initiative is being trialled at the city’s main bus terminal. More machines will be installed across Abu Dhabi based on the outcome of the trial.

“We encourage people, whether they are using public transport or not, to take part in this initiative as it helps our environment and it will help our future,” Mr Al Mazrouei said.

Updated: November 11, 2022, 7:22 AM
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