Get pa­per from plas­tic pulp, the Khadi way

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES CITY - @times­group.com

New Delhi: From clog­ging drains and fill­ing up land­fills or caus­ing sooty pol­lu­tion when burnt, plas­tic is a mod­ern-day plague. But the re­cy­cling method adopted by the Khadi and Vil­lage In­dus­tries Com­mis­sion pro­vides a vi­able solution to the prob­lem of plas­tic dis­posal.

Plas­tic is col­lected, chopped into fine pieces and mixed with cot­ton fi­bre rags to pro­duce pa­per bags, note­books and house­hold items. This KVIC ini­tia­tive is suc­cess­fully run­ning across the coun­try, eat­ing up 20% of the pro­cessed, de­graded plas­tic to pro­duce items that are find­ing tak­ers in the mar­ket.

Un­der a scheme called REPLAN, the pro­cessed and de-struc­tured plas­tic is mixed with cot­ton fi­bre rags and un­der­goes mul­ti­ple stages of treat­ment to pro­duce a pulp that is turned into pa­per. Be­cause of its strength and dura­bil­ity, this pa­per can be used to make pa­per bags, fine tis­sues and other pa­per­based items. While these items are al­ready avail­able in Khadi In­dia out­lets in Del- hi, KVIC plans a tie-up with In­dian Rail­ways and ONGC to make them avail­able on a big­ger plat­form.

“The re­cy­cled plas­tic pa­per is not only strong and durable, but serves the dual pur­pose of also re­duc­ing plas­tic waste,” said Vi­nai Ku­mar Sax­ena, chair­man, KVIC. “This, along with the ban on plas­tic in parts of In­dia, will help in the war against plas­tic.”

At present, the plas­tic pa­per is be­ing pro­duced at Ku­marappa Na­tional Hand­made Pa­per In­sti­tute, a KVIC unit in Jaipur. More units are planned for lo­calised pro­duc­tion of the pa­per. Of­fi­cials ex­plained that plas­tic is col­lected and sorted and then shred­ded. The fine bits of plas­tic are then treated and mixed with cot­ton rags in a 20:80 ra­tio. Ozona­tion fol­lows to bleach the re­sult­ing pulp, be­fore the slurry is set on stands to pro­duce a durable pa­per sheet.

KVIC says the re­main­ing de­bris can be utilised with soil for gar­den­ing pur­poses, thus elim­i­nat­ing any waste. Pre­lim­i­nary stud­ies showed a high po­ten­tial util­i­sa­tion of poly­eth­yl­ene waste in hand­made pa­per-mak­ing, with the cost per bag 34% lower than nor­mal. With cot­ton rags, the cost of prod­uct per met­ric tonne is around Rs 1lakh. The use of plas­tic has brought this cost down to Rs 66,000.

“We have ap­proached IRCTC, In­dian Rail­ways and ONGC for the use of the pa­per bags, tis­sues and other items we pro­duce,” said a KVIC of­fi­cial. “The pa­per can also be used in the pub­li­ca­tion in­dus­tries, where the re­in­forced pa­per could be use­ful as hard­bound ma­te­rial, in pass­books of banks and post of­fices or even as sheets for artists.”

This is cer­tainly good news, given that the lat­est data re­leased by the cen­tral gov­ern­ment pointed out that In­dia pro­duces 25,940 mil­lion tonne of plas­tic ev­ery year, of which 40% ended up as waste.

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