Kozhikode

Questions remain on recycling of flex boards

A recent study on PVC flex found that the multi-layer plastic was the most dangerous plastic due to its chemical contents and the toxins emitted while burning it.   | Photo Credit: S_RAMESHKURUP;S_RAMESHKURUP -

The increased awareness about the dangers posed by plastic waste has strengthened the recycling system in Kerala over the past few years. But PVC (polyvinyl chloride) flexes still remain a big question for environmentalists as well as policy makers, as there are limited facilities to recycle it. While there is mounting pressure on the State to ban flex boards completely, the Sign Printing Industries Association (SPIA) of Kerala is trying to salvage the industry by moving on to biodegradable materials and also taking the initiative to recycle flex boards.

However, the move faced a major setback a few days ago as the Karanataka State Pollution Control Board ordered the closure of SPIA’s flex recycling unit in Mandya district of the State. The board had ordered the closure as the promoters were yet to acquire the permission to run the unit. Widespread protests by environmentalists and locals alleging that the unit would cause pollution and that it would be impossible to recycle PVC was also one of the factors that led to the closure.

State govt. stand

The Kerala government has already taken a stand against PVC flex boards. The Department of Local Self Governments and the Suchitwa Mission had conducted a study on PVC flex recently and concluded that the multi-layer plastic was the most dangerous plastic due to its chemical contents and the toxins emitted while burning it. While maintaining that flex recycling was possible, the study points out that the process is too expensive and hence not viable. Hence, the State has suggested replacing PVC with polyethylene, polypropylene or polystyrene so that they could be shredded and used for road tarring.

Greens criticise move

The SPIA’s attempts to prove that flex recycling is possible have been widely criticised by environmentalists. “It is just an eyewash. If flex is banned, their business will be affected. By maintaining that it is recyclable, they are cheating the public,” alleged C. Surendranath, an environmentalist from Kannur who has played a role in making Mattannur in the district free of flex boards.

On the other hand, SPIA claims that the technology they used to recycle PVC flex boards was tested and proven.

“We brought the machines from Delhi. The flex boards are first crushed and then put on a spinner to separate the PVC exterior and the polyester thread in the interior. The thread is sent for cushion manufacturing while the PVC is converted into granules to be reused,” said Jaisal Pullaloor, Kozhikode district president of the association, who is directly involved in the project.

The SPIA is reluctant to shift to polyethylene as the product is manufactured by only one company in the country and costs twice the price of PVC flexes.

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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 9:51:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/questions-remain-on-recycling-of-flex-boards/article25146400.ece

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