India produces over 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day, a number that’s bound to alarm environmentalists across the world. But according to a report released on Friday, the central government has been making some good use of this toxic waste. Over one lakh kilometers of road have been constructed using plastic across the country, the report said — a move that both helps tackle the problem of non-recyclable waste, as well as provides employment to thousands of rag pickers in the country.
This novel use for plastic waste was first announced by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari back in 2016. Since then, the government says the one lakh kilometers of roads have been constructed in over 11 states, a figure that’s set to double in the next financial year. The use of plastic has come in handy in projects in Assam, Delhi, and in the recent construction of the scenic 270-kilometre-long Jammu and Kashmir highway. The roads constructed with the waste are also more durable against extreme weather conditions, like floods and heat, as compared to conventional roads.
Meanwhile, the measure has been so successful in other parts of the country that the Gurugram Municipal corporation has now made it mandatory to use plastic waste in construction of all new roads. This has had a very positive impact on the environment. Of the 25,000 tonnes of plastic that the country generates every day, only 60 per cent is recycled, the report says. The remaining 40 per cent is dumped in landfills and various drains, from where it eventually makes its way to the ocean. A large chunk of it is also burnt leading to toxic air pollution.
With a large part of that 40 per cent figure now going into construction projects, according to the report, it has also drastically reduced the pressure on the waste management system, which uses a lot of water and can be very expensive. The new move will also stand to save the government a lot of money that’s otherwise spent on the expensive bitumen — which most of our roads are constructed with. So let’s hope they succeed in their mission.