“Plastics will be the main ingredient of all our grandchildren recipe’s.” These words of Anthony T. Hincks depicts the whole picture of how we and our environment is endangered because of the menace of plastics. While on our way to office, market, college or home we can easily find the roads or our surrounding battered and defeated by plastics waste. The drainage clogged and the sewer choked with it. We use these roads regularly, but still we do not pay heed to this problem. We think that it’s not our problem and what can a single effort do. But the words of Robert Swan still rings in my ear that –
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”
It would be very easy for all of us to say that in order to solve this menace, just put a complete ban on all the plastics..But is it true? During this time of pandemic, it can easily be seen that how helpful this material is. The protection layer which protects us from novel corona virus is all made up of it – whether be it masks, gloves or body suits. Clearly putting a complete ban is not a solution at all. We need it.
The paradigm shift from ban to that of waste to wealth approach is the need of the hour. This shift will not only solve the problem but also will boost economy, provide livelihood opportunity, provide better standard of living and it will boost a model which is sustainable. Moreover people will be interested because of the money out of it. This shift will also address different issue that still remains unaddressed.
To ensure the success of this vision each and every one of us along with different firms, startups and also the government should come forward and actively participate in it. Firstly we should understand our role as an individual. We should adopt the habit of minimal waste generation and segregation of waste at the source. We should also create awareness about the plastic among the public. These simple lines are common line and are being read and taught in the books since a long time but what’s the use. Leaving in Delhi one can see the ‘Kachara Gadis’ a common scene every morning in colonies. The Vehicle has two closed compartments – Blue and Green. As the vehicle come near, people move forward with their garbage bags. A polybag holding all vegetable peels, leftover cooked items, wrappers , plastics, paper etc in it and it is thrown in any compartment as per ones wish. The step of Segregation clearly defeated. This add to the workload in the disposal process and discourage the people involved in the process from being pro-active. And why would they do so when the people who can easily do it are insensible.
The distribution and ubiquity of plastic waste is also seen a muddle. So in order to address this , the company generating plastics should be nudged to implement the idea of EPR(Extended Producer Responsibility. This will move ahead in discouraging plastic consumption and encouraging recycling. Recycling is very important as it will kick up a multiplier effect and a sustainable circular model. Recycling means less exploitation of resources, minimal waste generation and minimal load of disposal. As the already available plastic keep on moving round and round from waste to wealth.
According to a report of CPCB, India generates about 3.3 million metric tonnes of plastic waste in a year. Also India imports 80 percent of its oil needs and is the third largest oil consumer in the entire world. So in order to address both the problems we can move towards Pyrolysis plants . The idea is even supported by CSIR-IIP (). Such plants will have the capability to produce 800 litre of diesel from one tonne of plastic. Recently Indian Railways commissioned its first waste to energy (W-2-E) plant in Mancheswar Carriage Repair workshop at Bhubaneswar, Odisha. This plant is a patented technology called ‘Polycrack’, first such idea of Indian Railways. It is world’s first patented heterogeneous catalytic process that convert multiple feedstocks into hydrocarbons liquid fuels, gas, carbon etc. The Multiple feedstock include wet waste, plastics, garden waste etc. This can be a lot helpful in dealing with plastics that can be fed in and be made into a useful fuel. Moves such as these will result in less GHG emission, will minimize the use of fossil fuels and will also result in lower imports. It will move ahead in balancing our balance sheet and lessen our current account deficit.
We can also use wet waste which can be used in biogas plants to generate electricity. In turn these biogas plants can be used to power up the plastic shredding machine which consumes a lot of energy. And when this shredded plastic is used with bitumen it can be used to build roads which can withstand more pressure. The above mentioned is a true story of Vengurla , a town in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra. Plastic can also be used as a fabric. CEE (Centre for Environment Education) has developed Polyloom, which is a plastic weaving handloom that produces recycled plastic woven fabric with design on it. This plastic fabric is then used in end products like bags, bottle, decorative items, etc. Thus in a way the waste would add up in our fashion.
The plastic crisis wasn’t created overnight, and it certainly won’t be resolved in a day. However we must understand that our carelessness can lead to grave consequences. We are already seeing it in form of litters on locality roads or a bit larger great pacific garbage patch. Therefore it becomes important that we pull over our socks or we will be in dumps. Since we humans created this menace exclusively through our carelessness and lack of sense, it’s up to us to solve this problem. And if we are able to carry our responsibility with sheer determination then really it would be paid off. Plastic is really a menace now but tackling it is important. A Step from waste to wealth would be a good one. It will do two purposes – disposal and wealth generation. So let’s pledge together and become a part of solution, not a part of pollution and earn out a fortune from the garbage.