At a time when efforts were being made across the world to phase out single-use plastic, the Covid-19 pandemic struck and forced the intensive use of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, gloves, masks and other plastic clothing.
The tons of waste generated as a result now pose serious dangers to the environment, unless these plastics are recycled appropriately.
In this move, the city-based CSIR – National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) has partnered with Reliance Industries Limited and a number of companies in Pune to recycle waste PPE and turn it into recycled pellets and pellets. These, scientists say, can then be used to make recycled products.
Rough estimates suggest that 200 tonnes of waste was generated in India during May of this year, when the country was facing the deadly second wave of Covid-19. Normally, these hazardous wastes are incinerated in central waste management facilities. However, these require huge amounts of energy and harmful greenhouse gases are often emitted as by-products.
In a pilot project led by NCL, 100 kg PPE waste generated in Pune was collected and decontaminated. NCL then processed it and has now successfully tested its technique, which experts say can be done even with higher volumes of PPE waste. NCL and RIL have entered into a memorandum of understanding under which this project will be extended.
The project aims not only to tackle large amounts of PPE waste, but also to identify market players who could use these recycled granules and granules to make useful products and set up a supply chain for the whole process, making it an end-to-end process.
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