A team of experts from Jadavpur University is working on a device to recycle plastic bags in a bid to check the environmental pollution caused by them.
The Centre for Quality Management System of Jadavpur University is working on the device, which will produce recycled bags of thickness more than 20 microns, as per the government directives. The pollution risk level will also be reduced during the recycling process. “The device will be operational very soon,” said Sadhan Ghosh, principal investigator of the research project which, funded by the Central Pollution Control Board, took off nine months ago.
“These bags are the key cause of drainage bottlenecks. They also cause environmental damage, as rag-pickers avoid collecting them because they have low resale value. Also, while cleaning these discarded bags, chemical liquids are discharged, which are a pollution threat,” a Pollution Control Board (PCB) official said.
State PCB officials are alarmed at the rising number of unauthorised waste plastic recycle units in Calcutta and its suburbs. Most of these units do not abide by the green norms, they say. The units continue to manufacture plastic bags of thickness below 20 microns, flouting the existing law.
“Recently, we held raids on more than 500 such units in Calcutta and the districts. Of these, more than 200 were fined between Rs 1,000 and Rs 50,000,” the official said. Seventy units were temporarily shut down and were reopened only after they furnished written assurances. In the Behala and Tiljala areas alone, 39 units were closed down last year for failing to comply with PCB norms.
“Our device will cut pollution and health hazards for those who carry food, vegetables and fruits in these recycled carry-bags,” Sadhan Ghosh said.
A survey by Ghosh and his team at various recycling plants revealed that the discarded carrybags are cleaned in a very unhealthy manner. “The bags are collected from rag-pickers, washed together in the same dirty water, then spread on the ground and dried.” Ghosh said.
At a certain temperature during the recycling process, a chemical reaction leads to emission of poisonous gases. “We will clean the plastic pulp scientifically to remove the organic and inorganic waste, so that the air is not turned impure,” Ghosh said.