Women take up the cause of tackling plastic menace

V Mayilvaganan, TNN | Jul 24, 2012, 06.57AM IST

MADURAI: Naganakulam panchayat level federation (PLF) of women self-help groups (WSHG) has taken up a novel project of recycling plastic materials, shredding them into minute pieces that can be used for laying plastic roads. Ten districts in the state were taken up for the pilot project of recycling the plastic for road construction purposes and the order was issued by the government in the month of March. Out of the 10 districts, Madurai became the pioneer with district collector, Anshul Mishra officially inaugurating the unit at Naganakulam last Friday.

During the visit to the unit, situated in a small hall at Naganakulam, the women are eagerly working on their project as some are busy segregating the plastic bags and materials while few are involved in feeding the plastic materials into the shredding machine that grind the plastic into small particles. Within one hour, the women are able to grind 20 kg of plastic.

There are 480 members from 40 WSHGs in Naganakulam PLF and out of them eight WSHGs have come forward to work on the project. With each group sending one representative, there are eight women making the core group while others will support them in plastic collection and other things.

“We have asked all women self-help groups to collect plastic materials in their panchayat level and we will procure the materials for Rs five per kg. The shredded materials can be sold to Rs 16 per kg,” says G Aruna working with the machine. Public can also collect the used plastic carry bags, tea cups at their homes and hand over to us, she added.

V Karthikaiselvi, manager of District Supplies and Marketing Society under women’s project said the total cost of project was Rs 3.75 lakhs with full government subsidy. The shredding machine has cost Rs 1.60 lakhs while remaining funds will be spent on other purposes like maintenance. “Shredded plastic will be procured by the district rural development agency (DRDA) and they will use the materials for laying plastic roads in the rural areas,” she said.

R Ganesan, joint director/project officer, women’s project said the state government had proposed this project in January and passed an order in March. Ten districts were selected for the pilot study and Madurai was one among them and meticulous planning has helped them to start the project as the pioneers in the state, he said. “We have trained women in this work by February itself and ordered for the machine as soon as the order was passed. We are the first one to inaugurate the project and other districts are eager to follow our path,” he said.

“We came to know about the project during the PLF meeting held in May and we wanted to utilise the opportunity. While recycling of plastic can provide employability for our women, we will also involve in most important work of keeping the environment clean by recycling plastic. So, we opted for the project without a second thought,” says G Bothilakshmi, secretary of Naganakulam PLF.

Plastic Road Technology

Waste plastics, shredded into small pieces (2.5mm – 4.36 mm) and sprayed over hot aggregate (170 degree C); the shredded plastics melts and gets coated over the aggregate. This coated aggregate shows better binding property with bitumen. This waste plastic coated aggregate is mixed with bitumen and the mixer has better strength and resistance to water. The roads laid in this manner do not form potholes because of its lower water permeability character and it is also eco-friendly. Further, it helps to solve not only disposal of waste plastics effectively and usefully but also makes the road to withstand heavy load. The plastic road is the invention of R Vasudevan, dean, Thigarajar College of Engineering, Madurai and he patented the same in the year 2002. Vasudevan was also present for the inaugural function of the unit and he renders his support, said the women self-help group members.

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One thought on “Women take up the cause of tackling plastic menace

  1. Has anyone estimated the impact on the Pacific Gyre, if we move forward on this plastics recovery/road building? Even China would not have enough roads to eliminate all the plastic ‘hot zones’ in our oceans. Or, at least, that’s my guess.
    Anyone doing evaluations? Pilot projects? Did you know the Pacific Gyre almost touches Hawaii as it goes by? Any pilot projects from the US, or Hawaii? Can the Gyre be used as a resource instead of a nuisance?

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