For a long time I have been looking for different methods to deal with plastic waste and this article lists some important ones. These days there are a whole lot of options available -big and small, which can be implemented at micro and macro levels anywhere. In India, a hierarchy is followed wherein ragpickers from the lowest level collect and sell recyclables to dealers who sell it to wholesalers and recyclers. Large scale formal sector operations involve private collectors who sell directly to the recyclers.
To start with, we know how important it is to REDUCE the usage of plastic and daily we come across messages like ‘Say no to plastic bags’ or something similar. If we notice the bags we get from big retailers we’ll see that most of them they comply with the Indian government’s rules of using bags of thickness above 20 microns but the problem still lies with their responsible disposal. What use will be their thickness or quality if we still are in a habit of throwing them anywhere leading to the choking of roads and drains. The solution lies in adopting appropriate disposal techniques and segregating through colored litter bins. (Government notification relating to ‘Recycled plastics manufacture and usage Rules 1999’ and Amendment (2003) prohibiting usage of plastic carry bags to minimum of 20 micron thickness codification and marking of plastic products )
To move on the technological options to deal with plastic, here is a list of solutions being implemented in India and elsewhere-
1. Resource Recovery through environmentally sound and economically viable mechanical recycling into secondary raw materials for processing industry. In India, this is the major activity for plastic waste.
2. Energy Recovery through thermal disintegration using plasma pyrolysis and incineration.
3. Zadgaonkar Model in India, to convert plastic into fuel.
4. Catalytic Pyrolysis- Again to convert Plastic into Crude oil through.
5. Construction of roads from plastic waste by blending with bitumen.
6. Plastic waste used as reducing agent in blast furnaces and cement kilns.
7. Composite plastics packaging waste turned into recycled boards.
8. Reuse of used plastic carry bags into handicraft items.
9. Mechanical Recycling-by melting, shredding of granular plastic.