Right from the days when human beings used handmade tools and hunted for food, nature has been the most important support system for every living being on this planet. It has given us many things to make our lives better. The lifestyle has changed gradually for all of us with more inventions in scientific field and other fields. Along with it there has been a gradual increase in accumulation of waste around us. One of the most used invention of the homo sapiens is plastic which is being used in almost everything from toys to aeroplanes. But the most harmful among all has been the single-use plastic. It is being used and discarded by us which has become a major problem because if it is burnt then it causes air pollution, if it is dumped then it causes land pollution and water pollution. Another important thing is that there is also need for improved waste management. There are many issues in this prospect like lack of proper waste collection, poor treatment of waste and lack of proper knowledge about waste segregation among people.
There have been efforts previously for making people aware about waste segregation but it has not been highly advantageous. On the verge of being the most populated country on this planet, we need to urgently take care of waste management problem. Large amount of waste has been constantly creating more problems for all of us in terms of health problems because more pollution means many ill people, shortage of space where we can freely manage our waste, and many more.
The Indian government did start a program called Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014. It is being considered as one of the most important programs and a pet project of our respected Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. Under this scheme there has been a few changes. First of all, in many cities of our country there is provision for garbage collection right from our doorstep. Streets are being cleaned from time to time in some cities. But now there is need for addition in this program like NO PLASTIC USE, which can help in gradually reducing the use of plastic bags and plastic products. For example, the Indian Railways is now promoting the use ‘kulhad’ at all the railway stations instead of plastic cups.
Day by day there has been increase in reports from the general public in our country about the accumulation of waste in some places. Related to this, another problem which has been arising in our country has been the raking up of old cars on our streets specially in cities like Mumbai. This problem is even promoting another headache for everyone that is increase in traffic. As more and more old cars are accumulating dust on our streets it has become a problem for the authorities too in terms of what to do with such junk. A way out can be taking apart this junk then use the useful parts and finally melt the rest to extract even more usable elements. But for this we need money and resources which can be done by engaging multi-billion-dollar conglomerates like TATA and Mahindra who do manufacture new vehicles and can definitely find a way to reduce this problem. This can even lead to even more job creations and can also reduce unemployment to some extent.
As we are moving forward in terms of technology, there a loud cry for the management of the e-waste or electronic waste. We are constantly upgrading our electronic devices like smartphones and televisions, but as we are buying new one, the older one is landing up in garbage dump yards or in landfills. It has been a major problem. But websites like Cashify is helping us in this matter. They are able to take our old device in exchange for some cash and are able to repair (renew) it and even sell the device. In this way they are helping us in reducing the electronic waste as long as it is usable. But people are still not very much aware of this process and even lack trust in such organizations. So, we must try to promote such platforms as it will also help us in saving some money in return, as devices sold by them are at a cheaper rate than a new one.
India currently has more than 950 million devices in use, making it the world’s third largest mobile device market. E- commerce sites have been one of the major driving forces behind this rapid increase in electronic device adoption even in the remote areas of our country. But disappointingly, it is converting our country into an e-waste major producer which needs to be rectified with the help of big companies and also organizations/platforms like Cashify. Founded in 2013, Cashify had come with the idea of creating a platform that would sell, repair and manage our phone in a simple manner. Today it is slowly gaining popularity for its own unique way of handling our old devices.
Finally, plastic bottles have become a mess in our country. In our country, entrepreneurs are involved in process by which plastic bottles can be recycled into other plastic products like plastic bottles itself or any other product. Other use of the waste plastic is in construction of roads. Approximately a city alone generates 80 tonnes of plastic waste. If we use plastic waste in road construction then it will also help in increasing the durability of the road and will also help in reducing investment in road construction. Dr. Rajagopalan Vasudevan, who is a pioneer in road construction technology, had developed a technology a decade ago which is being used today and Tamil Nadu has been a benefiter of this as it leads in use of plastic waste in construction of road. Around 5000 km of roads has been constructed in Tamil Nadu using plastic waste. Even states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Manipur are adopting this approach.
Plastic can be further used in many more things like cloths, carpet, containers, bottles, films, grocery bags, moulding materials and lawn and garden products, and many more. By recycling plastic, we can also help in saving energy that is invested while making new plastic products instead of recycled plastic products. Plastic bottles have high resale value and the only other thing better that plastic is aluminium cans. Researchers from IIT Delhi are working on a new process in which plastic is chemically broken down to its smaller hydrocarbons and then it is used to produce diesel by synthesizing. The fuel which is produced can then be used as a blend in stationary diesel machines like generators and needs further testing and standardization so that it can be used as commercial fuel. Now CSIR – IIP in Dehradun is working on a similar process to create commercial fuel. A plant has also been set up in order to convert waste plastic into diesel. By using 1000 kg of plastic we can make 800 litres of diesel. Also, a German company called BASF is also working on a method to recycle plastic in order to create raw materials which we usually get from fossil fuels. But the only problem with all these recycling methods is cost. With the advancement of technology scientists are trying to invent new methods so that we can recycle plastic in a cheaper way.
Now let’s also talk about a technology called VUCHT by a Slovakian organization called Clariant. This technology uses a process called pyrolysis for converting plastic waste into diesel. In this process plastic is degraded at a temperature above 300 degree Celsius, which converts it into liquid oil consisting of various hydrocarbons. Recently, the organization also developed a technique which can further transform the liquid oil into high- quality fuel distillate known as winter diesel.
In the year 2020, coronavirus pandemic has created many problems in our lives. With a very dangerous situation in front us, help in any form from others has become difficult for all of us. It has destroyed many things for example our normal lives, many people have lost their jobs, many people have also lost their loved ones and there is insecurity in almost every business. No one knows when its going to end. Similarly, in the past many civilizations have been destroyed because of many such reasons. In the future also a time can come in which due to lack of proper management of waste many problems can arise which can ultimately threaten our existence. So, in order to avoid that government should make such laws that can force the industrial companies to mange their waste in a better way.
It is not possible for government authorities alone to tackle this problem of waste management and most importantly plastic. But the authority can lay the foundation for a better future by the help of a new department that can think and execute a plan in a proper way on the matter of plastic waste management by allocating some funds specifically for this purpose and should make sure that research and development should consistently be done for newer technologies and their timely implementation. This will help in short as well as long term. Only after doing these things we will be able to safeguard the future of our forthcoming generations and will have a safer, greener and happier environment for all the living beings.