Get paper from plastic pulp, the Khadi way
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.