About 50 tonnes of plastic waste have been recovered from the Gangasagar Mela area over the last few days by teams deployed to recover, segregate and supply the plastic waste to different reuse and recycling units.
The teams are focusing mainly on non-recyclable plastic this year as this category did not find many takers in the last few years because it lacked commercial value among the kabadiwalas (scrap dealers).
The non-recyclable plastic items — usually the ones less than 50 micron in thickness or multi-layered plastic used in packaging — would be sent to a cement factory in Odisha, which will use them as fuel alongside coal, said Sanghamitra Mukherjee, an independent waste management consultant.
Mukherjee is part of the team that has been engaged for the collection and supply of plastic.
The Gangasagar Bakkhali Development Authority (GBDA), a state government-run body, had deployed volunteers at the entry to Gangasagar, on the beach and on the mela premises.
The volunteers took away plastic items from the visitors and gave them biodegradable bags for free.
“We have been doing this for the last three months. The aim was to minimise the entry of plastic bags into the area,” said Sombhudwip Sarkar, the executive officer of GBDA.
While a good volume of the recyclable plastic would be handed over to the local kabadiwala, the non-recyclable waste would be sent to the cement manufacturing plant.
“All forms of plastic products have a calorific value and can be used as fuel. Since the low-density plastic cannot be recycled, we have to look for ways to reuse them. One of the ways is to use this plastic waste as fuel. The mixture of coal and plastic would be roughly in the ratio of 90:10 in the cement factory,” said Prasun Kanti Das, the chief executive officer of Aamra Susama Jalaprapat, an NGO that works with 13 district administrations in Bengal in the field of waste management.
Das said that out of 50 tonnes of plastic waste collected so far, about 60 per cent would be non-recyclable plastic. “In terms of weight, about 60 per cent is non-recyclable plastic,” he said.
The teams will continue their work of segregating and dispatching the various kinds of plastic waste to various destinations on Thursday as well.