Despite taking multiple steps to address the plastic waste problem, residents and authorities in Bengaluru know that there is still a long way to go.
According to officials at the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), plastic comprises about 20% of the total municipal solid waste of 4,000 tonnes a day.
Back in 2016, the State government issued a blanket ban on the manufacturing, storing and distribution of single-use plastics such as carry bags, flex banners, plates, etc. Residential communities in HSR Layout, BTM layout and Malleshwaram, have also taken numerable steps in reducing plastic waste. Big businesses and restaurants have even begun employing eco-friendly/sustainable packaging options for fear of fines by civic authorities.
Fortunately, a Bengaluru-based non-profit Swachha has come up with a solution that can convert discarded plastic waste and convert it into tiles and irrigation pipes.
In association with the BBMP, Swachha has developed what they are calling ‘Re-Tile’—tiles which customers can use on pavements, as wall cladding tiles, apartment walkways and swimming pools because of their light weight. This is a project by the Eco Solutions arm of the non-profit.
Speaking to The Better India, V Ramprasad, the Project Lead, tells us that these tiles are heat resistant up to 150 degrees Celsius, fire retardant, and can carry loads up to 35 tonnes, and more importantly, are recyclable.
Oh yes, and you don’t slip on these tiles.
“Swachha Re-Tile recycled floor tiles are made of recycled Polypropylene (PP) materials and utilise a unique interlocking edge design to eliminate the need for adhesives, making installation quick and inexpensive. These tiles are non-porous, flexible and durable. Our tiles remain steady despite heavy traffic and footfall. They can be installed directly over damaged or problem floors with minimal sub-floor preparations. Moreover, they are resistant to most solvents, chemicals and abrasions, and simple to maintain, reconfigure or remove,” he says.
Moreover, Ramprasad goes on to claim that these tiles also have rainwater harvesting capabilities, are water-proof, anti-microbial, chemical and stain-resistant, besides allowing for the possibility of applying different artwork and design depending on the customers’ requirements.
Among the discarded plastics that go into the manufacturing of these tiles are shampoo bottles, cleaners, disposable restaurant containers, milk covers and water bottles. Ramprasad also breaks down the amount of plastic required to construct one unit of tile.
Given below is the breakdown:
15 Disposable Food Containers= 1 Re-Tile
150 Polythene Bags= 1 Re-Tile
150 Disposable spoons= 1 Re-Tile
10-15 cosmetic bottles=1 Re-Tile
“We use the plastic given to us by the BBMP. Our research is complete, and we have moved on to manufacturing the tiles as per the requirements. Until now we have not approached any investors for funding, but are open to collaborating for research and further product development through the Institute for Resource Recovery and Management. The institute does all the research and the products after due tests are given to Swachha Eco Solutions for manufacturing,” says Ramprasad.
Back in 2014, Swachha teamed up with BBMP for collection and rehabilitation of waste pickers as dry waste collection centre operators and then decided to finish the loop for a circular economy by establishing their Swachha Eco Solutions branch.
“We at Swachha, collect source segregated wet and dry waste from door-to-door in separate bins which are stored at a designated centralised yard. The waste is then transported in separate vehicles to Swachha-operated dry waste collection, aggregation and drop off centres. The source segregated dry waste undergoes secondary segregation into plastic, paper, metal, rubber and other 30-40 categories. This tertiary segregated plastic is then sent to Swachha Eco Solutions waste processing centres for further segregation and the desired quality for recycling,” says this explainer.
The plastic waste is broken down using a grinding machine, and the flakes are loaded onto a plastic extruder to convert waste plastic into useful raw materials as granules. These reprocessed plastic granules are then loaded onto a pipe extrusion machine which produces decent quality irrigation pipes for farmers and homogeneous tiles, and hence they are recyclable.
“Only homogeneous material has been used in these tiles, unlike other tiles where fly ash, sand, and other things are mixed. This makes it recyclable. You can bring this back to us five years later, and we make something again and give it back to you,” Ramprasad told The Hindu. It takes 3-4 tonnes of plastic waste to manufacture approximately 10,000 tiles every day, he adds.
On the subject of pricing, Ramprasad told The Better India that they are looking at a range of Rs 70 to Rs 90 per square feet, depending on how much load these tiles can bear, their colour, quality and design.
So, instead of dumping or incinerating your plastic waste (which causes other health hazards), you can approach Swachha Eco Solutions and give them the opportunity to make better use of it.
Contact Swaccha Eco Solutions at +91 9900563918 or email them firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to see their Facebook page.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)