Plastic pollution has become no less than an epidemic across the globe and when we are not able to reuse the plastic, we can at least try to refuse it. But, we can put all our negative thoughts to rest as for the first time in India, IIT-Guwahati scientists have developed biodegradable plastic using homegrown technology.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report 2013, 70 percent of total plastic consumption in India is discarded as waste. Around 5.6 million tonnes per annum (TPA) of plastic waste is generated in the country, which is about 15,342 tonnes per day (TPD).
The innovation will help in solid waste management in the country where rising pollution levels have become a serious threat.
The biodegradable plastic has been developed by IIT-G’s Centre of Excellence-Sustainable Polymers (CoE-SusPol), which is funded by the department of chemicals and petrochemicals under Union ministry of chemicals and fertilizers. The center has already developed kitchen cutlery, household furniture and decorative items including flower pots and toys using this non-biodegradable plastic variant.
While talking to TOI on Saturday, CoE-SusPol coordinator and principal investigator of the project, Vimal Katiyar, said, “Ours is the only center in India which is carrying out research on biodegradable plastic. Though the US has been a major producer of biodegradable plastic, the production costs there are very high. But our team has managed to achieve this with lower costs by using homegrown technology. This is cutting-edge innovation and a remarkable achievement.”
Further, this biodegradable plastic has no hazardous chemicals and has passed the hot-beverage test. “The non-biodegradable plastic products, which are commonly used in households, cannot be recycled for 400 years. Products like plastic carry bags, if disposed of unscientifically, are hard to decompose and are a massive threat to soil cultivation,” Katiyar said.
He has also pointed out that this pilot project by IIT-G is a huge achievement as their plastic variant is non-polluting and will help to maintain the fertility of the soil.
“The biodegradable plastic that we have developed can perfectly replace the non-biodegradable variant. Our biodegradable plastic does not come from petroleum, but bio-based, which is safe and environment-friendly. When products made out of the biodegradable plastic variant will be thrown in the garbage dump, they will degrade automatically and get absorbed in the soil. This plastic will help increase soil fertility,” he said.
A Gujarat based private company has come forward to support it and aid IIT-G to begin commercial production. At one go, the IIT-G has been producing 7-8 kg of this biodegradable plastic and till September, this year, the pilot project with a 100 tonnes per year capacity design will be functioning.