Plastic grow bags adding to pollution load

New eco-friendly sapling bags introduced by the Social Forestry Department.

New eco-friendly sapling bags introduced by the Social Forestry Department.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat


Over 20 tonnes of PVC covers discarded; trial using quickly degrading material begins

The annual World Environment Day celebrations have ended up with adding tonnes of plastic waste to environment in the form of discarded PVC covers used for growing the seedling.

An unofficial estimate of over 20 tonnes of PVC covers in which the seedlings were readied for planting were discarded on June 5, thus making the World Environment Day celebrations one of the heaviest polluting events in the State.

Incidentally, ‘beat plastic pollution’ was the theme of the World Environment Day campaign for the year.

On the day, around three core saplings were reportedly planted across the State under the aegis of the State Forest Department and other agencies and equal number of plastic covers were discarded. The weight of plastic covers in which Forest department readied the seedlings alone would come to around 20 tonnes, according to a rough estimate by the Forest officials. Realising the paradox involved in the greening campaign and its pollution load, the Social Forestry Wing of the Forest department has started trying covers stitched out of of woven Polypropylene bags, which if found successful, would replace the PVC covers. Polypropylene bags are mostly used as rice bags. Last week, 100 covers each, which were stitched out of the material, were handed out to all the 14 district units of the Social Forestry Department for field trial. Moreover, the department has approached the Centre for Bio polymer Science and Technology, Eloor, for a scientific analysis of the material including the rate of its degradation. “These covers are expected to easily disintegrate than PVC covers though they are slightly expensive,” said Muhammad Noushad, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Social Forestry).

PVC cover

The PVC cover is the only viable material that is currently available for the purpose, he said. The locally made cover would cost around ₹2 a piece, which is double the price of a PVC cover. Any material used for bringing up the seedling should withstand the elements for at least six months. It should also be remain unbreakable while being watered and transported as the saplings readied by the department are transported to various distribution points and from there to the planting sites.

The earlier trial using coir bags proved unsuccessful as the bags turned soggy when the saplings were watered. They also gave away when wet and failed in the strength test. It was proved unsuitable for transporting the seedlings, said M.A. Anaz, Assistant Conservator of Forest (Social Forestry), Ernakulam.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 11:34:29 AM |

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