A few years back, people who opine plastic as wealth would be called insane. How could such a disparaged thing that cause extreme imbalance in ecology can be thought as wealth…?
Frederick A. Talbot in his book ‘Millions from waste’ had wisely answered this question by saying that “waste is merely raw material in the wrong place”. Apparently, from the 6.30 billion tons of waste being produced in the world around, only 9% has been recovered for the purpose of recycling. The majority of the plastic waste ends up in landfill, dump or in the environment. Some kind of plastic take thousands of years to decompose. It will contaminate soil, clog water bodies and sewers, harm the marine life, pollute the air and even enter the food system unless we avail ourselves with the opportunity to gain wealth from the same thing.
In order to pursue this ideology beyond the parochial attitude, we should consider plastic as a commodity which can be sold or brought just like another source of energy. One of the steadfast source of plastic waste treatment is incineration. Of course burning plastic to generate energy is far finer than misspending it to test the fate of our eco-balance. But it will foreclose its potential for reuse and it could cause detrimental effect on our environment if the conditions are not tight enough. HDPE, PP, PET etc are the usual kind of plastic garbage collected from the household which are further converted into pipes, fiber, furniture and many more. Plastic recycling is a process recovery of different materials in order to reprocess them into variety of products unlike their authentic form. It is the combination of multiple processes like sorting, washing, classification and extruding. Pyrolysis is usually used to convert plastic waste into energy. Plastic can also be converted into chemicals by using ‘Cold Plasma Process’. As per the study conducted by ‘The Article’ journal fifty -five times more ethylene can be recovered from HDPE which is used to produce every day usable objects like bottles and pipes by using this process rather than conventional pyrolysis. About 24% of plastic weight can be converted directly into valuable products. Industrial affluence usually alludes to the economic growth, what if it can also be environmental genial ..?
In adventure classic ‘Back to Future’ Emmet Doc Brown uses energy generated from rubbish to power his DeLorean time machine. Even though the time machine could wait a bit long to have a life, plastic has found its place market. It contains carbon and hydrogen with similar energy content as that of conventional fuels like diesel. It is just like killing two birds with one stone, we can get rid of plastic by making use of it. Maybe the definition of renewable energy should be widened to include energy from non-recycled plastics. Many government bodies and law-EPA, 24 states, The Energy policy Act of 2005- have already recognized plastic as a source of renewable energy. The aforementioned details cannot be considered as mere theories, there are people around the world who have already proved these to be massive successful endeavors. Iftekhar Enayatulla and Maqsood Sinha, two entrepreneur from Dhaka developed cheap yet reliable technologies to save their country from getting polluted, thereby making use of its flipside. Within the span of twenty years they have attained widespread popularity and from then many developing countries including India is using their principles. Plastic processing industries have many more prose to add, like its contribution to the industrial development, energy conservation, providing plethora of job opportunities to the needy thus, enhancing the economical growth. Illias Dias, founder of the NGO ‘Litter of Light’ was able to supply people in Philippines with solar light in their household using usual plastic bottles. The NGO trained unemployed people to fix the lamp and made them earn bred by serving their country. Tails made out of plastic is ruling the market since a quite a time now. One of the most reassuring thing about these flourishing business undertakings is people’s belief in holistic development. Making use of this favourable time is what we are expected to do.
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. This quote must be the motto of countries like Sweden where percentage of waste material dumped in landfill is one percent. Things are hardly different with San Francisco, the zero waste city. The expertise in managing garbage is an indispensable part of their economy. Here we barely pay attention to the filth that is gorging our stability. Everyday India churns out 26000 tons of waste incuding cutlery, milk pouch, straws and other single use items. Most of them end up languishing in landfills or worse. Many NGOs like ‘Tide turner Plastic Challenge’ is trying to reduce the use of plastic. But the efforts to acquire wealth out of it seems apathetic. We all know that complete eschewing of plastic is impractical in this scenario where it is the most cheap, versatile, and accessible commodity to all the people. So converting curse into boon is not only pragmatic but convenient also.
You must be surprised to know that plastic can be used to stabilize the soil. Researchers at BASF have developed the world’s first food wrap that acts as a fertilizer. It is made up of fully biodegradable plastic substance Ecoflex. At the edge of their life cycle agriculture plastics like green house cover can be recycled. By the reasonable use of plastic we can conserve water, temperature can be maintained and the use of pesticides can be regulated by keeping caps in a closed area thereby reducing the farming cost and safeguarding health. The plasticulture system which melds raised bed, plastic mulch, drip irrigation and fumigation has been a significant help in ameliorating the production of commercial vegetables. We can reuse plastic bags in the field as anti-hail, anti-bird, wind-breaker thusly reflecting it as agriculture friendly. Withal our cognitive instincts, new innovations are indeed equipping ourselves to deal with the environment crisis we are having with plastics to a fair extent.
Letting go Pete Seager’s vision unquoted would be an inappropriate way to start talking about reuse. He said “If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted redesigned or removed from production”. Reuse is the best solution to heaping plastic waste in the household. During the lockdown time, many people turned to craftsmen by making use of the abandoned plastic and the you tube is swarmed with clickbaites showing how beautiful it is. I myself tried some of these and it turned out to be really funny. I know many people who use it as a source of income.
Speaking of indigenousness, In case you are reluctant to look up to foreign precedents, we are no short than them in instances. Indore, the cleanest city of India could enlighten us to get treasure out of trash. Indian initiatives like Nepra brings smart plastic waste management into forefront with 55% of women participation. According to the company report 90% of the plastic debris is recycled to high quality products and the rest is sent to cement factories in the form of Refused Derive Fuel. Bunyan nation, another smart waste management start-up pontificate that recycling activities in India is relegated to informal market and they lack technical competence and rigour. Even though the processing technology requires some pre-investments, the availability of raw materials is an assurance in this business. Withal that you are enabling cheap-paid ragpickers and other workers pertaining to this industry to have a staunch and regular income. Deshmukh industries, another crank-up from Sangli has developed a machine to convert plastic waste into bricks. Along with the new people, we have C Srinivasan from vellore who turned garbage into gold. The bottom line is ‘Its not about how much intelligence or resource you have but the perseverace and potential you are ready to invest matters….’
I know I have been flocking the content with examples and observations. Perhaps, it is intentional because I believe that lame theories alone cannot coax you to take up something seriously. In this scenario of being practical, most of us wouldn’t dare to face risk unless we are sure about the results. Coming from a place which is in the fledgling state of waste management and economic uncertainty, I truly believe certain amount of awareness could make a huge holistic difference in our society. Human beings are the weirdest kind of species who can lighten up every censorious situation in order to sustain his life further. We have the history of making worst into best. Its just a matter of keen evaluation, it is capable of converting the greatest woe of our time into opulence.