Plastic - Effect on Environment - Alternate Solutions

One of the most sensitive issues regarding the future of sustenance of Human race in this planet is keeping the nature healthy and green. The resources that nature provides us is fast depleting because of the uncultured and unnecessary use of some day to day product. One of such product is plastic. Plastics in various forms like plastic balls, plastic bags, polypropylene bags, polyethylene bags, plastic barrels, plastic caps, plastic bottles, plastic baskets, plastic basins, plastic basins, plastic bowls are used in huge quantities without being worried about the repercussion of the same. There are many perils of plastics. Some of them are:
  • Conventional plastics are a significant source of environmental pollution and cause harm to life if not disposed properly.
  • They assimilate into soil and cause soil pollution. It takes about a million years for a plastic to decompose in soil.
  • In urban India, they are the source of drainage problem.
  • They are produced from petrochemicals which itself is a nonrenewable source.
  • Plastics in huge quantities are disposed of by burning which releases toxic green house gases like CO and CO2.
Inspite of all these harms, The Indian market for plastics is worth 14 billion dollars. India has a total consumption of 12 million tones of plastic. The demand of plastic is increasing at a whopping rate of 8% per annum. Plastics contribute 8% of India’s GDP. One of the most important sectors of plastic industry is flexible packaging.This sector itself constitutes of around 40% of the market and is the source of most pollution because of its use and throw characteristic. In order to control this, the THE PLASTIC MA UFACTURE, SALE A D USAGE RULES were notified by the Ministry of Environtment and forests. The key point mentioned in this notification was:
o person shall manufacture, stock, distribute or sell carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic bags which are less than 8 x 12 inches {20 x 30 cms} in size and which do not conform to the minimum thickness of 20 microns.

A simple and innovative solution to this problem can be the use of biodegradable plastic. Bioplasts are made by bacterial fermentation of sugars and lipids. In bioplastics, conventional raw materials like LDPE, LLDPE, HDPE etc are replaced by a biodegradable material known as PHA(Polyhydroxy alkanoate) of PHB(Poly-beta-hydroxy butyric acid). These plastics have the property of degrading in presence of fungus, bacteria, rain, wind and other elements of nature.It thus has the longevity of plastics and biodegradibilty of paper.

Futuristic Plastics Pvt Ltd is a well established plastic film manufacturing company in India. It has various plants across India that manufactures conventional plastic products like LDPE, HDPE, LLDPE Carry bags and Flexible Packaging(the plastic pouch that you see a detergent packed in is an example of plastic flexible packaging). However, the owners of the company have become very environment conscious. They want to set up a plant to manufacture biodegradable plastic in India and see how it works. If it is a success, they will convert all there existing plants into biodegradable plastic plants. The new plant will be making only flexible packaging materials. Some key information regarding the industry is given below:
The raw material, PHA or PHB is 2-3 times more expensive than LDPE. There are very few companies in India who manufacture
The average cost of PHA in USA is around USD 4.5-5.5/kg.
In order to make biodegradable plastic in India, you will either have to import PHA from foreign countries or set up your own PHA manufacturing facility.
The average selling price of the converted PHA is around Rs 350-400/kg depending upon the end product.
All the scrap produced can be remelted and reused.
The demand for the product is estimated to be around 10000 tonsper annum initially and is expected to grow in subsequent years. The demand is of fluctuating type and it is more in winter and summer and less in rainy and autumn.
Further studies show that there are over over 200 machinery manufacturers in India with different scale of technologies in India supplying 3000 machines per annum ranging from fully automatic to semi automatic machines. The owners, in order to create jobs for workers, have specially instructed not to use fully automatic machinery in the plant.

The manufacturing process include the following processes(not necessary in the given order):
Extrusion(monolayer or multilayer), printing, Lamination, Slitting and end cutting, cutting and sealing, pouching and packaging. The various end products possible are:
a. Monolayer on Monolayer: in this, one monolayer film is printed on and then laminated over another monolayer film.
b. Monolayer on Multilayer: in this, the monolayer film is printed on and laminated over the multilayer film.
c. Plain Monolayer film: Rolls of monolayer films are sent to the proposed buyers who do the printing themselves.
d. Plain Multilayer Film: Rolls of multilayer Films sent to the proposed buyers.

Some important raw materials(other than PHA) used in the process are:
a. 20-30% by wt LDPE or LLDPE or HDPE in multilayer film.
b. Masterbatch as a coloring pigment during extrusion.
c. Suitable adhesive for lamination.

No comments: