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Friday, May 31, 2002

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TN plastic makers to collect, recycle scrap

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THE plastic manufacturers in the State are willing to work with the local bodies to collect and recycle segregated plastic wastes, according to the Tamil Nadu Plastics Manufacturers' Association (TAPMA).

Addressing the media, the TAPMA spokesperson, Mr B. Swaminathan, said that the essential problem is due to the way used plastic is handled and not because of the use of plastics as a material, even when made into single-use items. The industry is committed to work with the local administration and non-Governmental organisations on social and environmental issues relevant to plastic waste.

"The industry will support a State-wide consumer awareness programme to promote segregation of waste as source to facilitate recycling of plastics," he said. According to him, though there is enough capacity with the industry, they do not get enough material for recycling.

He said that if the Tamil Nadu Government went ahead with passing the Bill on controlling the manufacture and use of disposable plastic articles at least 5,500 plastic units will be affected. About 95 per cent of these are under the small and tiny industry category.

The move will also affect the livelihood of eight lakh people engaged in the industry, including the rag pickers who supply wastes for recycling.

"There are no credible alternates to plastics in terms of safety, hygiene, availability and cost", he said. "Any alternate product cannot be mass produced and will not be cost-effective".

The Tamil Nadu Government had introduced the Plastic Articles (Prohibition of Sale, Storage, Transport and Use) Act in the Assembly, during the last session. This has, hence, been referred to a select committee.

According to Mr Swaminathan, the concept of segregation of solid waste at source, which is accepted all over the developed world, has not even been explored in India. Such a system would overcome the problems of disposal of plastics.

He said that plastics form less than four per cent of the municipal solid wastes in Indian cities, and so it was a myth to insist that plastics constitute much of the urban garbage. At three kg per person per year India has a low per capita use of plastic when compared to other countries. It also has a high percentage of recycling, which is at 60 per cent.

Dr A.N. Bhat, Director-General of the Indian Centre for Plastics in Environment, said that burning of plastic bags did not generate dioxins.

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