30 Dec 2019 - Plastics constitute a growing threat to our environment - and in turn, human well-being - affecting the world’s freshwater systems and marine resources in particular, as well as terrestrial biodiversity and public health.
In India, where plastic use is rising, most cities and towns do not have an integrated solid waste management system.
This means that very little plastic waste is properly collected or disposed of, resulting in a massive waste-management challenge as cities continue to grow.
But in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, waste collectors in two cities, Bhopal and Indore, are turning plastic waste into roads, as well as income for women.
A Circular Solution
India generates about 62 million tonnes per annum and nearly 1,70,000 tonnes per day of waste, only about 24 per cent of which is recycled, while the rest is dumped in landfills.
Bhopal generates ≈800 metric tonnes of municipal solid waste per day. Around 120 metric tonnes (or ≈15 per cent) is plastic waste, and approximately 60-70 per cent of the total waste is dumped into landfills.
In the city of Indore, home to almost 2 million people, 800-900 metric tonnes of waste are generated every day, 14% of which is plastic – enough to fill 5-7 shipping containers.
Urban waste management is one of the top priorities of the Government of India and local and affordable innovations in this sector are highly valued.
In this context the ‘circular economy’ concept - an economic system intended to eliminate waste and the ever-increasing use of resources - offers a pathway to more sustainable resource management. It means reduced production, use, and disposal of plastics.