City generates 12 tonnes of plastic waste daily

As the earthmover lifts heaps of solid waste and puts them into a compost-making machine at Pachchanady dumping yard, more of plastic bags roll on the sieve of the machine than organic waste.

The earthmover lifts the waste from a row of heaps left for seven days for decomposing on the premises of the compost plant. But all is not dried up as people tie the plastic bags filled with solid waste before throwing them into bins. This waste tied in plastic bags will not decompose and affects the quality of compost produced at the corporation’s compost plant at Pachchanady, says Manjunath R Shetty, Environment Engineer, Mangalore City Corporation.

“Plastic is a Frankenstein’s monster,” he says. “If you burn it, it produces harmful gas. If you bury it, it reduces soil fertility and prevents percolation of rainwater, affecting recharging of groundwater table,” he says. Marine creatures eat plastic pieces considering them jelly fish and die, he says.

“Of the 200 tonnes of solid waste generated in the jurisdiction of the Mangalore City Corporation daily, 12 tonnes constitute plastic material,” Mr. Shetty says.

Deputy Commissioner N.S. Channappa Gowda says plastic bags, plastic sheets and plastic cups affect segregation of waste at the compost plant.

Plastic waste reduces the life of Pachchanady’s landfill site designed to last till 2030. If the menace of plastic is not controlled, it will occupy more space at Pachchanady, forcing the corporation and the district administration to scout for more dumping sites. The district administration will prohibit use of all types of plastic carry bags, cups and sheets used on dining tables for serving meals at marriages and other functions in Mangalore taluk from November 1.

“We are prohibiting the use of plastic material which create nuisance,” he says. Mr. Gowda says the use of plastic will be prohibited under Plastic Manufacture, Sale and Usage Rules, 2011. According to the rules, it is the responsibility of plastic manufacturers to dispose of the material produced by them. The district administration held a meeting with plastic manufacturers here last year and asked them to collect the used plastic items and dispose them of. But they have not responded positively. According to rules, urban local bodies can restrict their use. Manufacturing of plastic bags and cups by industries at Baikampady Industrial Area may continue. “They can sell them in other places,” Mr. Gowda says.

The president of Nagarika Hitarakshana Samiti, Mangalore, G. Hanumantha Kamath, says the samiti supports the move. But the district administration and the corporation should pursue the issue seriously. The move should not just be an eye-wash.

More In: Mangaluru