Question mark over plastic disposal stays

Biogas units set up in hospitals and schools do their mite in treating degradable waste in the city. But, there is no hope, however tiny, for plastic waste. Thiruvananthapuram Corporation continues to struggle under the weight of this many-hued menace, which just refuses to disappear.

The two shredder units set up at the Palayam market three months ago functioned for barely a month. It was locked up because no one knew what to do with the shredded plastic, say Corporation officials. “Among the options is the use of shredded plastic by the Public Works Department (PWD) for road tarring,” said Mayor K. Chandrika.

“The government must make it mandatory for the PWD to incorporate a certain quantity of plastic for road tarring,” she said. If there was a demand for processed plastic waste, more such units could be set up across the city. There was no explanation for the government’s delay in following up the proposal, she said.

Pyrolysis plant

Another option was to take the processed plastic to the pyrolysis plant at Sathya Sai Gramam, Thonnackal, to be converted to fuel. This plant, which was to be set up along with the shredder unit, is yet to come up. Ananda Kumar, executive director of Sathya Sai Gramam Trust, said there had been no discussions prior to the launch of the shredder unit on the disposal of processed plastic.

“The civic body and the government, who should be the ones taking the initiative for practical solutions, are not interested in the process,” said Mr. Ananda Kumar. The Bangalore-based firm, Green Transit Renewable Energies, which would set up the pyrolysis plant, had sent representatives to Switzerland to purchase the machine, said the director. “The land is ready and by the end of this year, the plant would be installed.” This translates to another delay of three months.

The Corporation tried to ban bags made of plastic less than 40 microns. Prices of bags were also raised. However, these schemes are inadequate, the Mayor said. “Violators will find some way to sell bags made of banned material and they will continue to dodge inspections,” she said. It was time for a law that would impose a fine on using plastic bags. The Corporation council had no power to enact such laws, and hence the onus was on the government, she said.