The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Puja bugle for battle on plastic
Bottles accumulating in the city per month:
150 tonnes
Bottles are of: mineral water and soft drinks
Cost of empty bottle: 75 p to Re 1 for two-litre bottle and 25 p to 40 p for one-litre bottle
No. of crushing units: 5
Bottles crushed: 100 tonnes per month

The city will be free from the menace of plastic waste that chokes the drains and is recycled by spurious soft-drink makers by Pujas 2004.

The Puja bugle for mission improbable has been sounded by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB), in collaboration with some bottle manufacturers.

Realising the enormity of the problem caused by plastic waste, the PCB evolved a method to buy and crush empty bottles, earlier this year.

Initially, two crushing units were set up in the city by two private companies to pulverise empty PET bottles and later convert them into semi-solid lumps and sell the same to a yarn-making factory in Chennai.

“We are getting excellent results. At present, five private companies, including one in Mumbai, have set up big crushing units in the city, where nearly 100 tonnes of empty bottles are crushed every month. That is why you will not find empty bottles littering the roads or filling up vats. Consumers who would throw away the empty bottles, are now storing them in order to sell them off,” claimed WBPCB member-secretary Shyamal Sarkar.

According to WBPCB officials, nearly 350 tonnes of empty plastic bottles add to the plastic menace every month throughout the state, with Calcutta alone accounting for about 150 tonnes.

“A large number of consumers generally chuck empty mineral water or soft-drink bottles on the streets, while others keep them at home to use for drinking water. These are harmful both for the city’s sewerage system and the health of the consumer,’’ said WBPCB scientists.

The pollution control board and the Indian Association of PET Manufacturers (IAPM), an apex body of PET bottle manufacturers, have decided to set up mini-crushing units at all tourist spots and amusement parks. Empty bottles will be collected and crushed.

Officials said technical and other kinds of assistance would be provided to unemployed youths willing to set up crushing units. Nearly 150 unemployed youths have shown interest in the scheme, they claimed.

This apart, officials said, door-to-door purchase of empty bottles would be undertaken to get more people involved in the anti-plastic campaign. The WBPCB has decided to deploy 500 volunteers from different NGOs and mass organisations to visit various markets and apartments.

“Environment experts will train volunteers from May 20 at the Salt Lake office of the WBPCB,’’ said Sarkar. “We will also put up display boards at all soft-drink shops, urging customers not to throw away empty bottles,” he added.

The IAPM, meanwhile, has also taken up awareness programmes about plastic bottles.

“We are undertaking visits to different schools to reach the word to students,’’ said association spokesperson Joydeb Mukherjee.

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