Lack of scientific collection and disposal system to deal with the menace

The Public Work Department’s (PWD) novel initiative to add plastic as a component in surfacing roads is unlikely to be a panacea for civic bodies with the majority of them lacking scientific collection and disposal system to deal with the ever increasing menace of plastic waste.

Of the 11 municipalities in the district, only Tripunithura and Thrikkakara have some system in place but then even they are finding plastic waste management a challenging task.

Tripunithura municipality has been operating a plastic shredding unit for the past two years. “We could get rid of about 300 sacks of piled up shredded plastic thanks to the PWD project. But this is going to be no relief unless PWD expands the project by procuring necessary infrastructure. Even then, the PWD demand would be restricted to about three months when road surfacing is underway and for the rest of the year, we would still have to cope with the problem,” Tripunithura Municipal Chairman R.Venugopal told The Hindu.

The municipality has been giving the shredded plastic free of cost to a private party. But that accounted for just about six tonnes of plastic waste, leaving the municipality to cope with the remaining 14 tonnes in a month.

Recycling unit

Thrikkakara municipality recently added a plastic recycling unit with 300-kg capacity at a cost of about Rs. 20 lakh on finding its shredding unit inadequate to deal with the problem. “The effectiveness of the unit can be known in another two months’ time. Of course, we can give plastic to PWD provided they helped meet our operational expenses,” said P.I. Mohammadali, who recently stepped down as the chairman of Thrikkakara municipality.

Aluva municipality has been storing the plastic waste at a godown for an Edayar-based industrialist to buy it at a price of Rs. 3.5 per kg. The municipality, which generates about two tonnes of plastic waste in a month, faced a problem when the buyer failed to collect the stock for about five months.

“We have included proposals for two shredding units in our budget and are expecting to set them up in another six months,” said Municipal Chairman M.T. Jacob.

Angamaly municipality has been collecting plastic waste and selling it for Rs. 2 per kg, which was far from adequate to deal with the problem. The municipality is looking at a proposal for setting up a plastic shredding unit for which Rs. 3 lakh has been allocated. But the proposal is still in the early days.

In Kothamangalam, biodegradable and plastic waste are being set fire from time to time at its dumping yard spread over three acres in the absence of any facility to deal with the problem of waste. “We have received sanction from the government for setting up a plant for both solid and plastic waste and have been granted Rs. 1.60 crore. But tendering the work calls for an increase of 20 per cent more for which we have approached the government,” said Chairman K.P. Babu.

Muvattupuzha municipality is pinning its hope on a proposal worth Rs. 1.14 crore for the modification of the dumping yard and setting up of a plastic shredding unit. “At present, the un-segregated waste is being dumped and covered with earth. About seven tonnes of waste are generated in a month of which plastic accounts for 25-50 per cent,” said Chairman U.R. Babu.

Maradu municipal Chairman T.K. Devarajan hoped to have a plastic shredding unit approved by the Suchitwa Mission up and running by the next financial year to deal with about 500 kg of plastic waste generated in a month.

Kalamassery municipality is looking at piled up plastic waste in its dumping yard. Chairman Jamal Manakkadan said that the problem would be resolved once an understanding is reached with Suchitwa Mission for collecting it.

Chairman K.M. Abdul Salam said that Perumbavur municipality is striving to reduce the generation of plastic waste through awareness campaigns and strict enforcement of rules in the absence of any system for its collection and disposal.

Almost a similar situation prevails in Eloor where plastic waste is not collected at all. “The budget has proposed a plastic shredding unit for which the government had granted Rs. 8 lakh but we would need another Rs. 9 lakh to set it up,” said Chairman Joseph Antony.

In North Paravur, a private agency has come to the rescue of the municipality by buying the plastic waste for Rs. 1 per kg. “We will soon invite tender for setting up a plastic shredding unit, which is likely to be operational within two months,” said Chairperson Valsala Presannakumar.

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