Simple solutions for complex problems

Sitaram Naik

Plastic waste

Many countries are banning plastic covers and other plastic items. In developing countries like India with large percentage of poor people, it slows down the development. It is giving major impact on small businesses which have very poor people as customers.

Small restaurants pack wet food items in plastic covers if it is delivered out of restaurant. Those plastic covers are of low quality and trashed on first use. There are many reasons why poor people carry food to home and eat. Very poor people when they cannot cook at home, take one pack of meal and whole family shares. Similarly when poor students go to cities or towns for education, they get packaged food and share. Sharing is not possible at restaurants. These small restaurants encourage packaged food without any extra cost because the place is small for many customers to sit, cleaning and maintenance cost is reduced and the cost of plastic covers is low.

Similar packaging happens at big restaurants also. As the cost of food is high, their customers are relatively richer. So for packaging, these restaurants use plastic boxes instead of plastic covers and they charge for those boxes also. Though customers have paid for those boxes and those boxes can be reused, for their economical status, those boxes are trashed same as free covers.

Small shops who sell household items are also facing the problem with plastic cover ban. If a person is going home from work and plans to buy the required items, he expects a cover from the shop. If the shop keeper does not give a cover or insists the customer to buy the cover, poor people reduce their purchases to fit in their hand and pockets or simply goes to another shop. The customers that go to big shops or shopping complexes do not feel the cost of cover as burden.

Use & though low cost plastic covers help small businesses to run smoothly. Ban on thin plastic covers is burden on poor people.

Instead of banning plastic blindly we can think of other solutions till we find alternative for plastic covers.

Usage of plastic is not a problem. Plastic in garbage or trash is the problem. It is better to solve the problem than banning plastic. If the trashed plastic items are used to create a new product, it will have double advantage. One is that plastic is reduced in garbage and the other is new product.

The new product that can be created with waste plastic material is plastic sand. The plastic covers and other plastic items collected from garbage will be used to create plastic sand. Quality of covers or other items is not important. It does not require big machines to create plastic sand.

For completeness, I am giving a simple procedure to create plastic sand. There may be many better solutions to create it.

  1. Melt the plastic (Don’t burn)
  2. Take a big bowl of water
  3. Pour molten plastic in a filter that has many holes of required size
  4. Keep shaking the filter so that plastic comes down as rain drops and falls in to the water
  5. Another person can stir water with a long stick

Advantages of plastic sand

When demand for plastic sand increases, automatically innovative methods come up to collect waste plastic items at door step.