It is true that what constitutes waste lies in the eye of the beholder. Generally waste is defined as something that needs to be discarded or is already disposed. It isn’t the prime product but its management is necessary.
India produces 62 million tonnes of waste per year and that number is bound to increase due to growing population. Waste is most often viewed as something unusable which makes it unprofitable. Today’s world is all about give and take, profit or loss. If waste is viewed as something that is unprofitable then it is of least concern at least to we humans. There is a need to prove that waste is a commodity. That waste needs to be viewed as a useful resource.
Saahas Zero Waste is a startup based in Bangalore who believe that trash is a commodity. They wish to spread the idea of CIRCULAR ECONOMY. Circular Economy means segregating the waste at source, then pre-processing it before sending it to various recycling industries. Then closing the loop by selling recycled products. This way it supports the production of sustainable building material like corrugated sheets, compost etc.
Industrialization is inevitable. With its young population and emerging market, India stands at a crossroad. There is a need to make a systemic choice to come up with a long term prosperity plan. At a time when resources are running out at a rapid rate, this long term plan will only be an asset to the economy. Hence the political leaders, the businesses and the citizens need to join hands and adopt the principles of circular economy. This will largely reduce the pressure caused by already accumulated waste.
India generates a lot of waste .Therefore it has a high potential of waste to wealth enterprise. This can increase employment opportunities as well as manufacture commodities.
Plastics which are classified as ‘waste’ could be a potential ‘resource’. Plastics are non-biodegradable. Several thousand tonnes of plastics are produced every day in India. But the problem is not in the amount that is produced but the amount that is littered.
Plastics last for thousands of years. They are a potential threat for marine life and animals as these species mistake plastics for prey. Plastics are made of toxic chemicals that seep into land and water. Many species have gone extinct while many others are endangered. This really is a planetary emergency.
The focus must be on 100% collection, scientific processing and recycling of waste. For the plan to be successful private sector participation is necessary.
Prof. Rajagopalan Vasudevan is known as the ‘Plastic Man of India’ for devising an innovative way to dispose plastic by building roads using plastic waste. Using plastics for constructing roads has many advantages. Construction doesn’t require any new machines, it can be done using existing machines only. Bitumen is used as a binder in road construction. Use of plastic greatly reduces the amount of bitumen being used. Plastic helps to increase the aggregate impact value and also improves the quality of roads. This technology has reduced the wear and tear of roads to a larger extent.
It was in the year 2002 when he built the first plastic tar road within the college campus, where he worked as a chemistry professor. Since then, more than 5000 kilometers of plastic roads have been laid using this technology.
According to Prof. Rajagopalan Vasudevan, a normal tar road needs 10 tonnes of bitumen for each kilometer. Instead one kilometer of plastic road requires 9 tonnes of bitumen and one tonne of plastic waste. Thus for every one kilometer of plastic road, we save money needed to buy one tonne of bitumen. Each tonne of plastic waste is equal to 10 lakh carry bags. This way his method of building roads is Eco-friendly as well as pocket friendly!
He believes that plastic is a resource and that there is a need for effective management of plastic waste. This technology involves collection of plastic waste, shredding, heating, coating and finally construction. This way we can create more employment opportunities and also achieve sustainable development.
Protoprint is a Pune based company which was founded by Siddhant Pai, an environmental engineer. In partnership with SWaCH, this company collects plastics and converts them into filaments which are then used in 3D printing. It grants substantially higher income to Pune’s waste pickers.
Waste plastic can be converted into valuable liquid hydrocarbon fuel. This innovative idea is something that scientists have been working on and there is a positive answer. Centre for Environment Education (CEE) has developed the ‘Polyloom’ which helps recycle and reuse polybags. Polyloom weaves fabrics which can be used in making bags, pouches etc. It is rightly said that “Today’s Vision is Tomorrow’s Reality’’ as these technologies help in efficient management of plastic waste.
Lots of advertisements are made on how to use sanitary napkins but there is no advertisement on how to dispose it scientifically. There is a need to create awareness among people on how to manage waste efficiently. Art works made using waste plastic can raise awareness among people.People must realize that waste is a resource, and that goods can have more than one successful life. Everyone needs to adopt the 5R principle-Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Recover.
There is no planet B, hence there is no plan B. Effective waste management is the key.