In the 1990s, Mr Ahmed Khan’s company in Bangalore, India, tossed out thousands of plastic bags and other packaging materials each month, which finally ended up as garbage. Now, he is in the business of cleaning the city’s landfills and trash cans to salvage some of that waste and pave the way to a more environmentally friendly enterprise. Mr Khan and his brother Rasool Khan founded K.K. Plastic Waste Management, and have built more than 2,000 kilometres of roads using 10,000 tons of plastic waste, primarily in Bangalore.
Indian roads, on an average, have a life of about three to four years under ideal conditions. By mixing plastic with asphalt, K.K. Plastic forms a compound called Polymerized Bitumen. When used to construct roads, it holds out during monsoons and everyday deterioration better than the traditional roads and lasts for about seven years.
Mr Khan had earlier received a lot of support from the powers that be. “Politicians, to whom we presented our idea, were very impressed and extremely passionate about it too. It was largely because of them that we were able to construct bitumen roads in Bangalore, earlier.” But the situation now is very different. ‘For the past year or so, BBMP has stopped us from using waste plastic in road construction, without any reason. Although we have continued to cater to private companies, this is hardly making as much of an impact.”
Mr Khan and his brother are still trying to convince the government to change their mind.
Plastic in India is collected by rag pickers and they are the ones who are largely responsible for keeping our roads clean. They collect trash from offices and homes and sift through it for materials that can be sold to middlemen who then go on to sell it to recycling companies. Mr Khan offers up to Rs 6 per kg of plastics, more than the market rate, thereby ensuring steady supply.
The proposed idea to convert plastic from waste to a resource has only benefits but why is there so much opposition? It’s time for a change and we need to embrace it if we want to see a greener, cleaner future.
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