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TMC looks to rag-pickers, scrap merchants, NGOs to help reduce plastic waste

By Megha Pol, Thane
PUBLISHED ON NOV 28, 2019 08:47 PM IST

With the increased use of multi-layered plastic in the city, the corporation has now decided to rope in informal institutions in the city to effectively impose the plastic ban. These include rag-pickers, scrap merchants and plastic waste processors, whose co-ordination, according to the pollution control department, can help implement the ban.

The department claimed that since the ban was imposed in the city in June 2018, there has been a 50% drop in plastic being dumped.

The department also claimed that while the processing of plastic will be outsourced to waste processors, the segregation of different types of plastic will be undertaken at the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) level. For this, a baseline study of types of plastic and their categorisation will be initiated, following the corporation’s talks with different institutes.

“There are seven types of plastic commonly used and each of these has different recycling methods. In the present situation, the most widely-used plastic is the multi-layered kind, like wrappers, packaging plastic used by online shopping entities and plastic covers of various goods. This plastic usually lands in the dumping ground as there is no commercial value for it. We are trying to reduce this plastic waste,” said an official from the pollution control department.

Plastic with high commercial value, like plastic containers or bottles, are usually segregated by rag pickers and later sold. Multi-layered plastic though is difficult to segregate and sell. “For this, we have decided to rope in rag-pickers, scrap dealers and plastic waste processors. There are 50 plastic waste processors in the city; we give segregated plastic to these processors for recycling instead of setting up our own plant. We are now approaching various technical experts to conduct a study on types of plastic and their segregation,” said the official.

At present, 50% of plastic waste has reduced and the aim is to further reduce it by 100%.

At present, the corporation has only three vehicles that collect plastic every 15 days in Naupada, Majiwada and Vartak Nagar wards. The pollution control department said that the number of vehicles will be increased soon and every ward will be allotted a vehicle.

“Around 300 housing societies have tied up with us for the plastic collection drive. The plastic from these societies is collected every eight to 15 days. The collection is done through five NGOs which are co-ordinating with us to impose the anti-plastic drive in the city,” said another official from the pollution control department.

Bhatu Sawant, president of Samarth Bharat Vyaspeth, is one of the agencies working on the plastic collection drive, said that people are gradually cooperating. “In Thane, most social organisations were working to impose a plastic ban many years before the official ban was set in. Thus there is a lot of awareness among the residential societies. We collect plastic from around 22,000 houses. The ban indeed needs to be more effective; all houses in the city should be connected to this collection drive. Corporates should also come forward to boost the movement,” said Sawant.

He added that the state and Centre should also support the organisations and institutes working at the grass-root level. “The government can help provide funds or subsidies for the infrastructure needed to collect, segregate and process plastic,” Sawant said.

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