Be Smart to Use Plastic and Smarter to dispose it off appropriately

New Delhi: Prof. Harish Hirani, Director, CSIR-CMERI, Durgapur, delivered the Keynote Speech on 3rd August 2021 in the ‘Industrial Motivation Campaign on Awareness to MSMEs for transition from Single Use Plastics (SUP) to alternate materials’ organised by MSME-DI, Kolkata in association with the Indian Plastic Federation. Shri Anindya Roy, Regional Head, Reliance Industries and Shri Rajesh Gauba, Head, Sustainability & Recycling also delivered their perspectives on management of Plastic Wastes.
Prof. Harish Hirani, Director, CSIR-CMERI, shared that Plastics have increasingly played a very crucial role for the Human Society in diverse domains. Plastic was one of the major Industrial breakthroughs of the 20th Century and has revolutionized multiple domains subsequently. The PPE Kits, Diapers and Sanitary Wares, Healthcare Accessories, Packaging Mediums to name a few, are primarily Plastic Constituents and has had a significant impact upon human behaviour. Plastic is usually blamed for Chokage of Sewerage Systems, causing Floods and Breeding Diseases. Besides, Plastic has also been popularly blamed for harming Marine Ecology.
However, since CSIR-CMERI conducted intensive studies of Sewerage Systems and the reason for its Chokage, it was observed that Construction & Demolition Debris combined with Human Hair are one of the primary causes for chokages in Drainage Systems, eventually leading to Flooding of Urban Habitations. Plastics, though present, was insignificant as a causal agent for chokages. The dumping or incineration of Plastic Waste leads to releasing Toxic/Heavy Elements onto the Environment.
Plastic is essentially a Manmade Synthetic Material and any attempts at making it Bio-Degradable is disproportional. Plastics should be Thermally/Chemically degraded and through innovative application of R&D converted into Value-Added products. In line with this perspective, CSIR-CMERI developed the integrated Municipal Solid Waste Management Technology (iMSWMT) and the Pilot Plant of this Technology, established in 2017, is the centre-piece of the CSIR-CMERI ‘Zero Waste Colony’. The iMSWMT has been built in a Modular Form and the Mechanized Segregation Module is the most significant of them, because it helps in segregating Plastic Wastes from other Waste Constituents. The three primary technologies to process Plastic Wastes are the Plastic Agglomeration, Pyrolysis Process and Plasma Gasification. The Plastic Agglomeration Technology processed Waste Plastics into LDPE/Pellets which can be further processed to manufacture Doors, Windows, Furniture etc. The Plastic Pyrolysis Technology converts Plastic Waste into Fuel and thus brings in Sustainability factor in Plastic Processing. This process produces minimal amount of toxins. The Plasma Pyrolysis Process is a Technically Perfect Process for any kind of Complex Plastic product besides producing Syngas, which is used as a Fuel.
The 1 Ton Per Day (TPD) CSIR-CMERI iMSWMT since its establishment in 2017 has processed more than 62 tonnes of Solid Waste, of which almost 7% is Plastic Waste. CSIR-CMERI has also successfully processed 1.2 tonnes of Plastic Wastes provided by NSPCL.
Legacy Plastic Wastes i.e. existing Plastic Waste already dumped onto Landfill sites are one of the biggest challenges becausemost of the technologies available in the market focus upon Existing Wastes It has been observed that the Legacy Wastes consists almost 12% Bio-Degradable Wastes, which is a surprising statistics. Owing to significant reduction in Bio-Degradable Wastes over time, the constituent Plastic Waste in Legacy Wastes was found to be almost 25%. These Legacy Plastic Wastes can also be properly processed through any of the three CSIR-CMERI technologies. CSIR-CMERI has also processed 2.5 tonnes of Legacy Wastes from the Durgapur Municipal Corporation.
Prof. Hirani concluded by stating that our Society should be Smart to continue using Plastics and Smarter to properly Dispose-off Plastics instead of imposing a Blanket-ban on usage of Plastics.
Shri RitwikBiswas, Asstt. Director, MSME Development Institute, Kolkata, shared that management of Plastic Waste is a Global Challenge, the novel perspective into Plastic Waste Management presented by Prof. Hirani has the potential to revolutionize the way to address the problem. Paper and Wood-based products are not suitable alternatives and thus there is need for proper Recycling of Plastic Wastes. Government of India has schemes and funds for development of Clusters for processing of Plastic Wastes and MSME-DI will provide assistance of all sorts as required.
Shri Rajesh Gauba, Group General Manager , Business Analysis , Reliance Industries, shared that the approach adopted by Prof. Harish Hiranifor Plastic Waste Management has been enlightening. Since, Plastics are omni-present in almost every sphere of human lives, owing to its unique and advantageous properties, it may not be rational to completely ban usage of Plastics. Alternative Materials to Plastics have manifold Carbon Footprint, when compared to Plastic. Shri Gauba urged all to “Don’t say No to Plastics, Know Plastics’.
Shri Anindya Roy, Regional Head, Reliance Industries, shared that Prof. Hirani’s presentation has helped in eradication of all myths associated with Plastic Usage. Plastics will continue to play a very critical role in Development and deployment of Technologies as developed by CSIR-CMERI will help in Scientifically Tackling the core problems i.e. appropriate management of Plastic Wastes.

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