The use of plastic is growing at a rapid rate in India. However, this rate does not match with the rate at which plastic waste is managed, which means all the plastic waste is not properly collected or disposed of. What India needs is an integrated plastic waste management system and thankfully, two cities of India are setting a good example in managing the plastic waste.
Bhopal and Indore, cities in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh are using plastic waste in building roads. Only 24% of plastic waste is recycled in India and the rest is dumped into landfills. But in the city of Indore, which houses almost 2 million people and generates 130 MT of plastic waste daily, considers waste management as one of its top priorities. This has offered a more sustainable environment by means of reduced usage, reuse, reduced production and hence less disposal of plastic.
With the help of local NGO, the government has set up an integrated program for waste management that has been replicated even in the neighboring states across India. Indore and Bhopal has been recycling and reusing plastic for the construction of roads benefiting more than 2 million people. The plastic waste collected by the rag-pickers, are scanned and segregated by their usage value. The single use plastic waste (which consists of almost half of the plastic waste) is shredded and baled. These bales are further co-processed at cement kilns or used in building roads. This model has not only helped employed the rag-pickers but also build a livelihood for many impoverished men and women working in construction of roads. Single use plastic which would have landed in landfills are now being used to fuel cement furnaces and build strong roads. Roads made with mixed plastic are durable as it has high resistance to water.
Today, India recycles 60% of total plastic waste, 70% of which is recycled at registered facilities, 20% by unorganized sector and 10% at home. India recycles 38% more plastic than the global average of 20%.
An alternate petrol-based plastic carry bags has been introduced in the market, which is 100% biodegradable. In order to manage plastic waste, under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the government of India encourages the use of compostable carry-bags and the need for the manufacturer to obtain a certificate from the pollution board before selling these.
India uses the policy of reducing the amount of waste produced, reusing the material repeatedly, recycling the material to make new products and recovering energy from plastic waste. Through mix of motivation, technology and knowledge India is finding a sustainable solution to of the most pressing challenge of plastic waste management.
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