India’s state-owned Clean Kerala Company has announced an innovative new initiative where the company pays citizens for plastic waste. Although similar schemes have been launched in various countries and cities across the world, the end usage of Kerala’s recycled plastic will be fantastically different; the company plans to use plastic in road construction, which will increase the roads’ endurance.
A kilogram of shredded plastic can be sold to the company for INR 15 (around US $0.22) and it will then be sold to road contractors for INR 0.20 (US $0.30). The Kerala government has gone on to mandate that every municipality within the state to use the recycled plastic in at least 10% of roads laid in its jurisdiction.
According to Amol Bale, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University, road paving mixtures that include plastic have some important advantages over traditional mixtures. These include lesser moisture absorptive capacity due to coating of plastics at the surface, high compressive strength and high flexural strength, leading to roads that are “twice as strong as normal roads.”
The Kerala government has launched several campaigns to minimize plastic waste. Those attempts included the banning of sale of any plastic materials near the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa Sabarimala, a temple of pilgrimage.
Hindu Times reported that the court ruled that: “There can be no sale of any material including water in pet bottles or other types of plastic bottles in any place connected with Sabarimala, including Sabarimala sannidhanam, Pampa, Nilakkal etc.”
According to The Hindu, the city has witnessed protests due to the increase of accumulated plastic waste, which has put the state-owned cleaning company under fire.