Children learn that plastic can be good too

CMCA civic club members of VET school visit a plastic waste recycling factory.

Recently I took the Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA) civic club members of VET school, where I volunteer, to a plastic waste recycling factory, ‘KK Plastic Waste Management’ on Kanakapura Road.

We are all aware that we should segregate garbage. Of course, we have all heard of separating kitchen waste, plastic, paper, metals etc. But when it has to be actually put into practice, people hesitate because (a) old lazy habits die hard, and (b) people are not sure how to dispose of each of these categories. However, there is a practical solution for each of these categories of waste.

Kitchen waste can be converted into excellent compost for gardens or even potted plants in apartments. Daily Dump’s pretty terracotta pots are an option.

The machinery at KK Plastics that makes the plastic granules. Pic: Radhika Rajnarayan.

That leaves us with paper, metal and plastic. Paper is easy, we all give it to the raddiwalla, and it is the same with metal. But plastic – well, the raddiwallas turn up their noses at plastic and most of them refuse to take it. So most of us just throw it out wrapped in a plastic garbage bag.

All of us see heaps of garbage stuffed into plastic bags, lying all over the city. Cows graze on this garbage, and sometimes ingest the plastic bag and die. There was a terrible case in Bangalore a few weeks ago during the monsoon, where a young girl died in a scooter accident because her scooter skidded on a heap of wet, slippery garbage full of plastic bags. Yet, people don’t stop using these carry bags made of thin plastic. If each one of us can make it a habit to carry our own bag while shopping, half the problem would be solved. Still, a considerable amount of plastic waste does get generated. What is the solution?

CMCA club members from VET school, visited KK Plastics. Pic: Radhika Rajnarayan.

This is where roads laid with recycled plastic come in. We visited the factory of KK Plastics the other day, where they actually convert plastic carry bags into granules that are used as additives to tar and used for laying good strong roads. They collect the plastic garbage bags with the garbage intact, and take it to their factory. There, these bags are fed into a machine that separates the waste matter from the bag. The clean bag is ejected. The bags are separated according to the thickness, and fed into another machine that shreds them into tiny pieces. These pieces are fed into a third machine that converts them into granules that can be mixed with tar.

According to Rasool Khan of KK Plastics, Bangalore now has more than a thousand kilometers of this plastic waste roads. Their take on plastic: ‘Plastic by itself is not bad: it is only the way people dispose of it that causes problems.’

Harshitha J, a student from the CMCA Unique club recounts what Khan told them, that his factory is the first company to say  "YES" to Plastic. "He said that because they are utilising the plastic in a good manner. They will collect/purchase  the plastic covers, Milk covers and feed it to the machines". She explains that KK Plastics then mixes these chips with dambur (tar) and uses it  for road constructions, thus the roads last long as the plastic does not decompose in soil.

Supritha, another student says she learnt that plastic can be useful. "I learnt how to use plastic effectively, how to recycle it . When I brought this matter to my family they said  they are ready to do it.  We can help the world by doing our bit, so from now on we will keep a seperate bin for plastics."

"The two machine that were used to clean and cut plastic into pieces were awesome… I live in a joint family and my elders and even my younger sister are following (segregation). (But) my brother is not doing it, he never listens to me. But I am pretty sure that he too will mend his ways, soon." – Supritha, Unique Civic Club. 

Rasool Khan says that if each student of the school collects all plastic bags or covers or in fact, any kind of plastic waste (even broken pens, toys etc) from his/her home, into a big bag, and takes it to school every fortnight, the total collection of plastic at the school will be considerable. The people from the factory say that they will themselves collect it from the school and pay for it too.

This is a great idea, and can be implemented by large apartment blocks too. The civic club members at VET school where I am a civic tutor, are all fired up with enthusiasm. They will be talking at the school assembly about this and persuading their schoolmates to join in this movement for re-use of plastic waste.

Let’s all join hands to make Bangalore a garbage-free city!

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