The Planbots team

The BotCats team

BotCats aims to solve two issues which seem unrelated at a first glance: Plastic bottles and cats.

“Many people in our society still can’t prevent themselves from littering. Add this to the fact that our country is the fourth biggest plastic bottle producer in the world,” explains Ahmad Safrizal, Founder of Planbots Social Project, the organisation that produces BotCats.

Stray animals are also a great issue as the government has very limited resource to handle stray cats, which are often found wandering around aimlessly with no access to proper meals and healthcare.

This is why the BotCats team has developed a vending machine that allow users to buy dried cat food to feed stray cats by inserting used plastic bottles as ‘payment’.

“Botcats is launched as a movement to help increase environmental awareness among Indonesians. We’re taking the approach of using cats, as an animal with the closest proximity to Indonesians today,” Safrizal explains in an e-mail to e27.

“Hopefully this will motivate the public to dispose responsibly as they would also help stray cats to live a better life by disposing through this machine,” he adds.

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Apart from the stray cats feeding feature, BotCats also has a QR code printed on the vending machines that connects users to the official website of various animal welfare organisations, helping them to donate funds more easily.

“At first we were going to use Bitcoin for the donation, but since it’s not properly developed in Indonesia, so right now we can only use QR code to connect users to websites,” Safrizal explains.

The cat food will be bought by funds raised through donations and sales of used plastic bottles to recycling agents or waste disposal management companies.

The team plans to install the machine in locations where stray cats are often found such as school canteens, bus stations, or animal welfare centres.

Also Read: This Indian startup dreams for a planet with Zero(e)Waste

BotCats is one of the projects run by Planbots Social Project, an environmental group based in Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB). Supervised by a lecturer from the biosystem machine engineering department, the group focusses mainly on utilising technological innovation to solve waste disposal issues in Indonesia.

The BotCats team itself consists of 16 students from various departments such as veterinary science, economics, statistics, and agronomy.

The project is currently raising for funding on the Indonesian crowdfunding platform KitaBisa. It aims to raise IDR50 million (US$3,700) and at the time of this writing, have only secured IDR5 million (US$374). It has less than one month to fulfill its target.

Once they have managed to secure the funding, BotCats plans to install the machine in seven spots in Greater Jakarta Area.

“BotCats is our debut project. In the future we would also like to develop other innovation for dogs and other living beings with our slogan ‘all can be paid with plastic bottles’,” Safrizal ends.

Image Credit: Planbots Social Project