Transforming Plastic into Poly Bricks, Himachal IAS Gets Rid of Single-Use Plastic Waste
The times are critical with plastic pollution threatening all species that reside on the planet. Scientists and environmentalists have been trying to figure out an ecological way to dispose of this non-biodegradable material that has managed to overpower every aspect of human life.
Envisioning an efficient solution to plastic waste management, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Sirmaur, Himachal Pradesh, R.K. Pruthi has found creative ways to use the plastic waste that is accumulated daily in the district.
A state-wide ban on single-use plastic and polythene carry bags was a starting battle in the war against the plastic in this mountainous state. However, the ban only curbed the use of plastic in the future, but Pruthi was determined to dispose of the existing plastic waste in his district.
His undeterred resolve inspired him to launch the revolutionary campaign to use plastic waste for making poly benches, poly toilets, and in road building.
Talking about this initiative, Pruthi says,
Plastic waste has become a major headache for environmentalists, as there is still no method to destroy it scientifically. So, putting it to use appears to be the only option. As a large amount of plastic waste is generated on a daily basis, I decided to motivate everyone to collect poly packs, wrappers and plastic bottles. It will not only help in checking littering but will also help in converting plastic waste into usable articles.
He began motivating people, including children, to collect plastic waste to fulfill this goal. Over 27,000 students from 879 schools collected more than 1,825 kg of plastic waste, which was used to make 631 poly bricks.
This success initiated the second phase of the campaign in which around 50,000 students of 1,152 schools collected more than 3,162 kg of plastic waste and 4,804 poly bricks were made with the help of 3,766 members of local bodies.
He assigned a local youth, S Ansari, to design a machine that could be used to compress the waste into plastic bottles, who succeeded in his third attempt. It took two days and a modest sum of Rs 3,000 to build a small machine and related equipment like poly sticks for the purpose.
I have decided to distribute poly sticks in all 2,500 schools, besides to 1,862 self-help groups and 2,330 mahila mandals and give four each to the 228 gram panchayats of the district. This initiative will help them to make poly bricks, which can be used in the construction of boundary and retaining walls and benches.
For demonstration, models of protection walls and flower pots made from poly bricks have been constructed in the Shillai block. The models will help people to get inspired and use plastic in a more constructive way at the end of its life.
Taking this initiative further, Pruthi designed a poly toilet while Ansari fabricated it. Pruthi’s innovative idea for the construction of a poly toilet where waste plastic bottles filled with plastic waste were lined up in a frame to form walls has gathered a lot of praise. The toilet was constructed at a nominal cost of Rs 9,000.
People have been encouraged to participate in this unique plastic waste management campaign. These ventures have been appreciated in rural areas where the lack of resources results in the lack of the construction of public utility facilities.
Constructed with similar poly bricks and placed at the DC’s office at Nahan, the poly bench has been catching the attention of the public. Pruthi wants to expand the initiative by putting such low-cost benches at several other public places in the district.
Moreover, he has encouraged the Public Works Department (PWD) staff to use plastic waste in road construction. Recently, the district authorities completed a one-kilometer stretch of the Dimki Mandir-Budhpur Koon link road made from one-tonne of plastic waste.
This initiative, supported by the locals, secured the district second position nationwide after Dibrugarh district of Assam in the innovative solutions for plastic waste management venture of the Ministry of Rural Development for designing poly bricks using plastic. In January 2020, Pruthi received the award from Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, Union Ministry for Water and Sanitation, and Bollywood actor Amir Khan in Delhi.
There might not be a permanent solution to dispose off the plastic waste yet, but such efforts strengthen the belief that it is possible to get rid of plastic junk for good.