The phenomenal increase in plastic waste and the challenges it poses, even in the rural areas of the country, have been a topic of continued discussion for years now.
But, if the Ministry of Jal Shakti is to be believed, at least one project under the Phase II of Swachch Bharat Mission – Rural (SBM-G) is certainly timely as it has offered an example for plastic waste management involving the community.
“Sasewadi Gram Panchayat in Bhor block of Pune district in Maharashtra has set a healthy precedent towards eliminating plastic waste and achieving visual cleanliness through an innovative and low-cost, cluster level system for plastic waste management (PWM),” said a release from the Ministry of Jal Shakti on Monday.
For the pilot project, four GPs namely Sasewadi, Shindewadi, Velu and Kasurdi were selected, all of which have many small-scale industries operating in their jurisdiction as well as many hotels and restaurants. This invariably results in a large floating population. Further, dumping and burning of plastic waste in the open was common in almost all the GPs, creating a nuisance. The PRIs realised that management of such waste was urgently needed.
“Under Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G) Phase II, plastic waste management is a key component for achieving Open Defecation Free Plus (ODF Plus) status. Further, as per the operational guidelines, PWM is the responsibility of the block/district,” the release from the Ministry said, adding: “Adhering to this, the Block Development Officer (BDO) of Bhor, V G Tanpure planned a cluster level plastic waste management system for villages situated near Pune on the Mumbai-Bengaluru highway that generated a large volume of plastic waste.”
Meetings were held in all the GPs to explain to the community about the need, and importance, of PWM and its relevance for attaining ODF Plus status. It was decided to tie-up with a private plastic recycling company, which collects and processes plastic, converting it into a type of crude oil, used for burners in industries. The company that was eventually selected had an operational unit situated within a one-kilometre radius of the villages which would facilitate easy transportation of the waste to the unit while keeping the costs to a minimum, it said.
PWM system in Sasewadi village: Sasewadi village was the first to have a system in place for collection, segregation, and transportation of waste, while making maximum utilisation of available resources. Initially, the people would not segregate waste properly. However, after consistent interpersonal communication, almost all of households took their role seriously and were linked to the system.
The company purchases plastic waste at Rs 8/kg, and the GP uses the income for operation and maintenance of the system. The plastic unit is also equipped with a dust remover to clean the plastic and a shredder to dice the plastic into equal-sized pieces.
The plastic processing unit provides two vital benefits: it accepts all kinds of plastic waste for processing, and the by-products (carbon chunks, gas emissions, and oil + gas) that it generates are not harmful to the environment.
“In fact, the gas generated along with the oil are used to power the equipment at the plant. Further, the emissions are well below the prescribed limit of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board,” the release said.