Ban on non-biodegradable plastic likely

Bill proposing amendment to the Karnataka Plastic Rules Act will be tabled in Assembly


A Bill to amend Karnataka Plastic Rules in this regard is likely to come up for discussion in the coming Assembly session.

According to Secretary of Environment Kanwarpal, the draft Bill has been prepared and will be tabled in the Legislature after securing the nod from the government.

The existing rules prohibit manufacture of plastic less than 20 micron (one micron is one
millionth of a metre) thickness. The thicker the plastic, the better the chances of recycling it. The Secretary said that once the Bill is passed, all plastic manufacturing units have to switch over to production of bio-degradable plastic. Many states and National Capital Territory of Delhi have brought in similar laws to halt the production and use of non bio-degradable plastic.

Bio-degradable plastic, as the name itself suggests, decomposes in nature with the active role of micro organisms - bacteria, fungi, algae. Corn starch is widely used as an additive to make plastic bio-degradable. As starch is an organic component, it decays when it comes in contact with organisms in nature, and makes the material porous.

However, the life of the plastic varies with its thickness. There is no difference in the carrying capacity of the bio-degradable plastic.

A major disadvantage with the use of non-bio-degradable plastic is that it blocks the flow of water in drains. The problem does not arise if the plastic is bio-degradable; after a few days in the water, it becomes porous and allows water to flow through it.

K M Lingaraju, senior environment officer with the Karnataka Pollution Control Board, said the bio-degradable plastic can be used for manufacturing carry bags, cups, plates.

“Production of bio-degradable plastic may require 20 pc more investment than that required for manufacturing non bio-degradable plastic,” he revealed, opining that the industrialists have to change the course of production.

Bangalore City generates about 3,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste which includes 40 tonnes of plastic waste, every day. Rasul Khan, director of KK Plastics in Bangalore, said that extensive use of plastic has become a hazard as there is little public awareness about exploiting the utility of plastic. In Bangalore alone, 1,600 tonnes of plastic waste has been utilised for laying roads of 1,000 kms. BBMP is the only city agency in the country which has taken up using plastic waste for roads seriously. If other corporations across the country follow the Palike, the challenge posed by use of plastic can be countered considerably.

Rasul Khan said there is a need for comprehensive study on the time required for natural decay of bio-degradable plastic.

“As of now there are many issues still unclear about bio-degradable plastic. Can it hold weight on par with the non bio-degradable plastic? These issues need to be addressed before doing away with non bio-degradable plastic”, he said.

Highlights

*  Bangalore generates 40 tonnes of plastic waste a day
* Three units manufacturing bio-degradable plastic in the state
* Manufacturing of bio-degradable plastic incurs 20 per cent extra investment
* Corn starch is used as an additive to make plastic biodegradable
* Total plastic producing units in Karnataka: 290

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