The Jakarta Post
A worker stands amid rows of neatly stacked barrels behind Kabangan Market, a traditional market that specializes in upcycled goods. (JP/Stefanus Ajie)
A truck pulled up and unloaded its haul of plastic barrels at Kabangan Market on Jl. Dr Rajiman in Surakarta, Central Java. One by one, the used plastic barrels, collected from the city's factories, were carried into the market and lined up neatly along the walls.
The used barrels are then skillfully crafted into new items for sale, transformed entirely for a new purpose. Kabangan Market, also known as "Gembreng" Market – referring to a colloquial term for items made from iron – is a traditional market that specializes in goods made from recycled materials, or upcycled goods.
Vendors ready upcycled gas jugs in their stall at Kabangan Market. (JP/Stefanus Ajie)
The market is found in Sondakan village, not far from the famous Batik Laweyan village, in an area that has been a popular trading spot since the 1980s. Kabangan's vendors mostly sell household goods made from recycled materials, such as grills, pots, pans and kettles.
Following renovations in 2004-2005, the market now hosts dozens of merchants from neighboring areas, such as Pajang and Klaten.
The market is popular among street vendors in search of affordable cookware, with the charcoal grill and kettles among the most popular items, said Suparmo, a regular customer.
"I like to shop here because the items are good quality and buyers can also bargain for the items they need," he said.
Prices start at Rp 20,000 (US$1.5) for cookware and can go up to hundreds of thousands of rupiah for larger items, such as water tanks and dome rooftops for mosques.
With the front of the market designated for vendors, the rear is reserved as the production area. Plastic and iron barrels are cleaned thoroughly before they are upcycled into sellable goods, as some of them were once used to store chemicals.
Used plastic barrels, collected from factories across Surakarta, await their turn to be transformed into a new, useful product. (JP/Stefanus Ajie)
Steel barrels are commonly turned into trash cans, while any leftover pieces are used in making grills and other items. Smaller barrels are made into chairs, which are usually purchased by local cafes to lend an industrial feel to their interior.
The upcycled goods sold at the market also attracts visitors from neighboring cities, such as Delanggu and Sukoharjo. The market has also become a trusted source for government institutions to purchase trash cans for public parks and schools. (liz/kes)