Tamil Nadu

Women lead the way in recycling plastic waste

SHG women recycling plastic waste in their unit at Unjampatti village in Theni district on Tuesday. Photo: G. Karthikeyan

SHG women recycling plastic waste in their unit at Unjampatti village in Theni district on Tuesday. Photo: G. Karthikeyan   | Photo Credit: G_KARTHIKEYAN;G_KARTHIKEYAN - G_KARTHIKEYAN

The safe disposal of plastic waste is a challenge. But a group of rural women at Unjampatti village in Lakshmipuram panchayat is showing the way.

A team of 24 SHG women has set up a plastic recycling unit, the first of its kind in the district, to process and recycle plastic waste generated in the district. While their counterparts were engaged in making masala, pickle and other food items and cosmetic goods, these enterprising women focused on plastic recycling to ensure sustainable income generation for rural women, as well as contribute to creating a cleaner environment.

“An education tour to Panjampatti village in Dindigul district changed our business outlook. When we explained our ambitious plan, help came from all sides," they said.

The district-level panchayat federation offered a grant of Rs.3.75 lakh to buy machinery to process plastic waste.

A 50-HP electric power connection was secured and plastic waste cleaning and shredding machines brought from Coimbatore were installed in the unit, says A. Easwari, head of Bharathi SHG, which runs the unit.

At present, the centre is crushing 22.5 kg of plastic waste per hour. The unit has crushed 2,061 kg of waste in 10 days.

Village panchayats will take care of the collection and transportation of waste to the unit from the collection points, while DRDA will buy the finished products for laying rural roads. The arrangement has reduced the production cost substantially. "We collect waste at Rs.8 a kg and sell shredded plastic at Rs.30 a kg. Earnings from the first sale stand at Rs.14,025. Initially, each member took Rs.100 plus bus fare as wages and the balance was ploughed back into the enterprise to enable growth," says Easwary. "After one year, we will share the profit among ourselves equally."

Though the women are now proud owners of a manufacturing unit, they have not forgotten their traditional occupation of making jewellery, with a section of the SHG still involved in it.

Collector K.S. Palanisamy said municipalities and village panchayats have been instructed to send plastic waste to the unit for recycling.

The DRDA has granted Rs.1.35 lakh to sink a bore well to meet the unit’s water requirement.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2020 10:42:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/women-lead-the-way-in-recycling-plastic-waste/article5022049.ece

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