Maharashtra is taking its plastic policy a step further by inviting Professor Rajagopalan Vasudevan, known as the Plastic Man of India, for consultations on innovative ways to dispose of plastic and turn waste into roads.

Plastic to fuel plan

The State Environment and Public Works Department will hold talks with the 73-year-old Prof. Vasudevan, recipient of the Padma Shri, in the first week of August. The chemistry professor from Madurai could work with the government in an advisory role to recommend the use of plastic in building roads and convert it into fuel for the cement industry, officials said. “We could ask him to advise us on a long-term basis on ways to dispose of plastic waste. Primarily, we are looking at using recyclable plastic in construction of State highways and roads,” said a senior secretary.

Since 2002, Prof. Vasudevan has been using shredded plastic waste of 2 mm over hot bitumen. The thin film of this plastic is spread over stones and later added to molten tar. The roads constructed in such a way have lasted longer than those constructed by local bodies and State governments. The Maharashtra government has said it is hopeful of integrating Prof. Vasudevan’s innovative ways in its Road Development Plan 2001-2021. Under the plan, the State is targeting to develop 3.37 lakh km of roads by 2021. Maharashtra has been steadily increasing its road length at a substantial cost. From a network of 2,99,368 km in 2015, the State government took it up to 3,00,789 km in the next year.

On March 23, the government issued a notification banning the manufacture, use, transport, distribution, wholesale and retail sale, storage and import of plastic bags. The ban covers disposable products made from plastic and thermocol, such as single-use disposable dishes, cups, plates, glasses, forks, bowls, containers, disposable dishes or bowls used for packaging food in hotels, spoons, straws, non-woven polypropylene bags, cups or pouches to store liquid, packaging with plastic to wrap or store the products and packaging of food items and grain material.

The ban is not applicable to PET bottles, irrespective of capacity. These bottles, however, should have a predefined buyback price ranging from Rs. 1 to Rs. 2, depending on the size, printed on them.

“While we are giving some more time to find a way around the use of multi-layered plastic, the government is keen on banning all kinds of plastic in the next two years,” said an official.

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