Background on plastic pollution in India
- According to the recent CPCB data, India generates more than 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day, of which 40% remains uncollected and ends up as waste.
- This uncollected causing choking of drainage and river systems, littering of the marine ecosystem, soil and water pollution, ingestion by stray animals, and open air burning leading to adverse impact on human health and environment.
- About 67% of the plastic waste generated in India is High Density Polyethylene (HDP) (Tupperware, shampoo bottles etc.) and Low Density Polyethylene (LDP) (plastic bags for computer components, juice cartons, plastic wraps etc.).
- India is doing well in recycling common plastic waste from PET plastic waste (from drinking water and soft drink bottles, plastic jars, plastic sheets etc).
- However, HDP/LDP plastic waste recycling is extremely low in India.
- One reasons of low level of recycling is that about 40% of HDP/LDP plastic waste in India goes uncollected.
- In this backdrop, KVIC launched the REPLAN project in 2018.
REPLAN (Reducing Plastic in Nature)
- REPLAN is a project of KVIC that aims to use plastic waste in a semi-permanent manner in order to reduce the availability of plastic in nature.
- Under the REPLAN project, plastic is collected, chopped into fine pieces and mixed with cotton fibre rags in the ratio 80:20 (80-cotton rags pulp & 20-plastic waste) which undergoes multiple stages of treatment to produce a pulp that is turned into paper, or the “the plastic paper”.
- Because of its strength and durability, this “plastic paper” to make useful products like paper bags, notebooks and other household items.
- At present, the plastic paper is being produced at Kumarappa National Handmade Paper Institute, a KVIC unit in Jaipur. More units are planned for localised production of the paper.
- REPLAN project can go a long way in reducing plastic waste in India by increasing collection of HDP/LDP plastic waste.
- Thus, it can potentially increase the rate of recycling in India.
- Further, the carry bags made out of REPLAN were found to be more durable, and cheaper.