Let me tell you the modern version of the Beauty and the Beast. Everyone marvels at the beauty of the Taj Mahal in Agra, poetry cast in marble. A few hundred km away slumbers the beast in Ghazipur, Delhi. Miles and miles of rotting garbage lies in all its stinking glory in the village used as a dumping ground. We can give another comparison for the scale of the mess. It is said that the Ghazipur landfill is as big as 40 football fields put together.
Of the 8,000 tonnes of solid waste collected in Delhi alone, glass accounts for about 80 tonnes, says 17-year-old Udit Singhal, a resident of Delhi.
Udit found about these figures when he was trying to do some research on how to recycle glass bottles lying at home.
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“I saw all these glass bottles piling up at home and understood that even the kabadiwala did not want to take it given that he would just have to dump it all into the landfill. I was sure that I did not want these bottles to end up in the landfill, that according to me, was not a solution to the problem at all,” he says.
During his research, he came across a technique with which glass bottles could be crushed into sand, and to him, it seemed like a good idea. “The research I was doing online led me to discover a firm in New Zealand, called Expleco Ltd. that used a machine to crush glass bottles into sand. I was interested in the concept. And I saw its application in India. That was a perfect solution to the mounting glass bottles I was seeing around me.”
Udit made this solution his pet project. When asked whether this was a school driven project, he says, “On a personal level I wanted to do something about the increasing number of glass bottles and hence took this up as a personal project of mine.”
Wanting to bring the machine from New Zealand to India, he contacted the New Zealand High Commission in Delhi and pitched his idea to them. “I called the New Zealand company over the phone and managed to establish a rapport with them over a period of one month. When I told them about my idea, they were kind enough to partly fund the project.”
The other half of the funds to procure the machine came from Udit’s parents who wanted to support him in his project.
“The machine crushes glass bottles into sand within seconds and converts them into a valuable by-product. It also reduces its volume by almost 90 per cent. The sand produced from recycled bottles is useful for the construction industry,” shares an excited Udit who began utilising the machine from 29 May 2019.
Speaking about the benefits of recycling bottles this way, he says, “The sand produced from crushed glass bottles is stronger than the ordinary sand used in construction because of its high silica content. It has 76 per cent Silica, therefore, holds better with bricks and concrete, and that’s the difference we bring with this sand.”
“A bottle of beer (330 ml) can yield 263 gm of sand, while a champagne bottle (750 ml) can produce 838 gm of sand. The sand thus produced is safe to be used in brickmaking, construction, road repair, and on beaches and golf bunkers,” explains Udit.
The machine costs New Zealand dollars 4,000 (approximately Rs 1.8 lakhs) plus import duty and needs no replacement of any parts for up to 20,000 bottles. For now, Udit is recycling glass bottles he collects from family and friends and sends the sand to construction companies for testing.
The teen is also now in talks with various High Commissions, hotels, restaurants, and convention centers where glass bottles are used in large quantities. He is hopeful of turning this into a profitable venture.
Kudos to Udit, who at 17-years-of-age, is actively finding ways to tackle environmental concerns. To stay in touch with the work he does, you can visit the website here.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)