A Quest for accessible plastic waste recycling in India

India is quite beautiful with its luscious greenery, enchanting coastlines and stunning landscapes. But, Indian cities are all at risk with the nation's current recycling waste management plans and systems. Finding places that facilitate plastic waste recycling, such as single-use plastic and other recyclable items, might be a bit difficult. So setting up one such recycling plant or waste management business is quite imperative.

Before proceeding with the hunt for recycling places in India, it is essential to understand the country's plastic waste management (PWM) rules. India's history with waste management is noteworthy. However, the current scenario with the latest ban on single-use plastic is even more intriguing. The salient features of the PWM Rules and the latest amendments made to such rules, such as the introduction of EPR for PIBO, make it more unique. Obtaining Plastic Waste Authorisation is an added plus that makes the rules worth following.

Though these rules sound great, India's waste management system still needs certain conditions. The country has no formal segregation and recycling of general and plastic waste. Among the waste dumps are items such as plastic that end up in landfills for up to 1,000 years, glass that takes one million years to decompose and add to it tins of aluminium and steel that take 50-500 years.

Finding an authorised recycler is difficult without a formal recycling system, but staying positive is the key.

Despite the schemes introduced by the Government of India (GoI), such as the Swachh Bharat Mission, certain places have narrow roads, so garbage trucks can't enter. This makes waste management in India difficult. Collecting waste from door to door and streets can't be conducted efficiently; hence, formal recycling isn't possible in traditional neighbourhoods. However, talking about the residential and some well-established areas, one can find infrequent dumpsters on roadsides, some overfilled and some not, all having recyclable items that end up in landfill sites.

A few landfill sites in India are so full that both waste companies and locals adopt strategies to combat the overflow of waste. Unofficial landfill sites cover Indian land, storing the excessive waste generated, including recyclable items.

Indian vendors and citizens alike use an unofficial recycling system to account for the underdeveloped waste structure in the nation. Collecting plastic bottles and jugs and rags, paper, and metal, the locals repurpose the objects, selling and storing many products from spices to oils. Indians residing in slums even illegally collect recyclable waste like wood, plastic, metal and rags from general waste dumps, repurposing and sorting them.

However, small, somewhat clean general waste bins are frequently found in some cities. Waste from these bins and trash cans is offloaded into dumps, sent for incineration, burnt and buried. This results in several tons of waste leaking into the environment.

If recycle bins with separate chambers for each waste category are installed nationwide, general landfill might have less pressure. Eventually, less trash will end up on the land or float towards India's coastlines.

Shockingly, only 5% of waste is recycled in formal sectors in India. It might be challenging to set up a proper waste recycling plant in India because of a few factors, but it is something that the government must prioritise. More funds must be allocated towards waste recycling to prevent the pollution and deterioration of India's streets, lands and seas.

Diksha Khiatani

A writer by day and a reader at night. Emerging from an Engineering background, Diksha has completed her M. Tech in Computer Science field. Being passionate about writing, she started her career as a Writer. She finds it interesting and always grabs time to research and write about Environmental laws and compliances. With extensive knowledge on content writing, she has been delivering high-quality write-ups. Besides, you will often find her with a novel and a cuppa!

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