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  • A make-shift bed of a homeless person, with a sign on top that reads "I

    A make-shift bed of a homeless person, with a sign on top that reads "I'll be right back," in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sept. 11. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 April 2019

The bins are completely sealed and can only be opened by residents who have cards with a magnetic strip.

The city of Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina, is experimenting with a new type of public trash bins that can only be opened by authorized holders of a magnetic card. The stated hope is to keep streets clean while the effect will be to keep trash pickers, known as “cartoneros” (cardboard box workers) from getting into them and taking out trash that could be used again or sold.

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These “intelligent” trash bins are being piloted in areas that are most visited by tourists with the rationale of beautifying the city, and if successful, could be implemented throughout the city.

The bins are completely sealed and can only be opened by residents who have cards with a magnetic strip. According to the public official in charge of this project, Eduardo Machiavelli, when the system works correctly, it will “prevent people from getting into and taking out trash. It will keeps things cleaner along Corrientes Avenue.”

Critics however, are incensed that authorities are enacting such a plan at a time in Argentina's history when people are suffering from severe unemployment based on the effects of austerity wrought by the Argentine President Macri’s administration.

People in dire conditions often go through public trash receptacles looking for things to sell, either accumulating recyclable products or other finding other goods to sell. For many, this is the only way they can get food on their table.

Some may be simply looking for discarded food to eat.

One critic from the Broad Front of Argentina posits that these receptacles, which cost a lot of money to implement, will be destroyed by desperate people looking to feed themselves.

According to data from the Buenos Aires Statistics Office, the rate of poverty in the city has shown increases with every measurement. During the first quarter of 2018, there were 173,000 people in poverty which constitutes about 5.6 percent of citizens. Estimates say that by December 2019, the numbers could begin to exceed upwards of 200,000 people.


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