Don’t discard used plastic bottles — old newspaper and scrap buyers will collect them from your doorstep. For a price.
The state Pollution Control Board (PCB), with the Indian Association of PET Manufacturers and the cottage and small-scale industries department, has taken up a scheme to reuse plastic bottles to rid the city of them and save its drains.
According to the plan, hawkers, who buy old newspapers and glass bottles from houses and offices, will now buy plastic bottles for Re 1 or Rs 2 per bottle. The hawkers, termed primary collectors, will sell the bottles to central collectors, who will pass them on to crushers.
Several crushing units will be set up at locations across the city. The bottles will be crushed till the plastic is in a semi-dust state, and the powder will be sold to yarn-making factories in Chennai in sealed packs.
PCB officials said there was a huge demand for crushed plastic in the yarn factories, so the crushers can sell them without fear of any financial loss.
A committee, comprising representatives of the association, a forum of all soft-drink manufacturers and other PET bottle-makers, officers from the PCB and cottage industries department, has been formed to monitor the scheme.
“People throw away plastic bottles after use as they do not have any resale value. We shall soon issue advertisements in the newspapers, urging the people to store the used bottles and sell them, along with old newspapers and glass bottles. We hope Calcuttans will reap the benefits of the scheme,’’ said PCB chairman Hirak Ghosh.
The PCB and the cottage industries department will provide all assistance, including bank loans, for setting up crushing units, for which an investment of Rs 45,000 to Rs 50,000 is required. Apart from saving the environment and the city’s sewerage and drainage system, the PCB chairman said, the scheme generates a huge scope of employment.
“Unemployed youths can set up crushing units by forming a cooperative or even individually,’’ Ghosh said, adding that unemployed youths can also earn money as central collectors. The PCB has received feelers from 10 persons keen on setting up crushing units in the city.
According to state PCB officials, nearly 150 tonnes of plastic bottles are generated a month in the city proper. The bottles hold soft drinks, packaged drinking water and edible oil. Starting from households to offices to roadside shops, buyers, after consuming the drinks or water, discard the bottles in the roadside drains, blocking sewerage lines.
“Some people do reuse the bottles, to keep filtered water or oil or any other liquid, but most of the bottles are thrown away on the roads. If consumers see a financial gain, we feel 90 per cent of them will store the bottles. This realisation has powered our scheme,’’ said association secretary and coordinator of the scheme, Joydeb Mukherjee of Coca-Cola.
Apart from the environmental benefit, Mukherjee said, the doors of a new industry will be opened. “Several youths can earn money by involving themselves in the used plastic bottles trade,’’ he said, adding that the association will soon launch a campaign to generate awareness among the people on reusing plastic bottles.
In the next stage, Mukherjee explained, there will be an arrangement in place whereby sellers of soft drinks and mineral water will take back the plastic bottles and refund a sum to the customer, as is done with glass bottles.