With the advancement of human civilization, many products were invented. Within no time, few of them became a part of our daily lives. One such product is Plastic. We all know about its harmful effects on human health and environment, but still we are too addicted to it that we can’t avoid its role in our daily lives. From a simple toothbrush to gadgets almost everything is made up of plastic. The result is that we have produced heaps of wastes dumped into our surroundings.
For an average, plastics take from 50 to surprising 600 years to fully decompose in soil. This is a devastating fact. There is a need to reduce the usage of this crap around the globe, and at the same time a need to transform the waste that already has cluttered around. So, here is a list of innovative techniques that is helping to transform plastics into treasure.
10 Innovations to Transform Plastic Waste into Treasure
In 2002, Prof. Rajagopalan Vasudevan, Prof. of Chemistry at Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai, thought of a concept of reducing the load of waste on environment and converting it into something useful. He experimented with various concepts and finally stumbled upon a miracle ingredient to build up a water and season-proof road. And that free of cost and widely spread waste was ‘plastic’. After this eureka moment Prof. Vasudevan is called as the ‘Plastic man of India’.
How it is done : The plastic wastes, such as wrappers of junk food, sweets, candies, plastic bags and all that is made up of Low Density Polyethylene Plastics (LDPE), are collected, sorted and then shredded into finer particles. These are then heated to 165°C and mixed with gravel. Simultaneously, bitumen is heated to 160°C. The plastic mixed gravels are then added to bitumen and spread onto roads.
It’s that simple! Currently 11 states of India (including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh) have taken responsibility to build their roads with plastic.
You can also read Easy and Smart Ways to keep Environment Clean
Plastic Clothing Material
Like many others, Ian Rosenburger of Pittsburgh, USA, was too discontented by the amount of enormous plastic waste piled up near the shores upon his visit to Haiti. He ascertained an idea of converting waste plastic bottles into a fabric. He established his fabric industry in Haiti, collecting the enormous bottle waste from the shores with the help of locals, generating employment opportunities to the poor ones at the same time. He now has a link up with many top fashion brands.
How it is done : The plastic trash bottles and everything that is made up of PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) are collected, shredded into finer pieces and then thoroughly washed. It is then melted and its fibres are mixed with cotton, canvas or rubber. Thin threads are then made from the fibres and send to fashion industry which then make bags, clothes, footwear, sports clothing and many more items out of it.
Plastic Bricks and Homes
The creation of bricks made out of plastic waste has been done by various innovators around the globe. The bricks resemble the traditional clay ones in dimension and are even light weighted. The homes made out of these bricks are proved to be water and earthquake resistant, heat insulated and thermo-acoustic.
How it is done : The plastic waste of every type is heated to definite temperature, melted and then mixed with sand and ash. The mixture is then fed to crude machinery for moulding for about 2 hours. The undried bricks are then managed and hardened for 7 days and after that they are ready to be used!
Plastic to Fuel Oil
The most innovative and efficient way to utilize plastic waste is to convert it into a fuel. The technology is being developed under various research institutes around the globe to minimize the residues left over after combustion of the fuel.
How it is done : The waste plastics are collected and sorted according to different resin types. Each batch is extensively cleaned and then fed into a semi batch reactor. By the process of pyrolysis it is heated upto 300-400°C for 6-7 hours to finally extract a fuel that is suitable to be used in vehicles.
Plastic bottle DIY Cooler
The burning temperatures in summers in most of the tropical countries bring many problems with it. Many people in such countries live in slums and are not able to afford for coolers or ACs. One such person, Ashish Paul of Bangladesh, once fed up of the scorching heat ended up innovating world’s first no electricity and low cost cooler that too from trash. His innovation, later named as ‘Eco Cooler’ is able to transfer cooler air inside a room.
How it is done : A ply board of the size of a window is cut out. Plastic bottles are collected and their bottoms are removed with a cutter. Many holes of the size of the neck of bottles in a grid pattern are made on the board and bottles are fixed onto it. And that’s it! The DIY EcoCooler is ready to be installed. With the funnelling action, these coolers are capable of reducing the room temperature upto 5-7° from the current level.
Plastic Bottle Bulb
With the innovation of a no cost bottle bulb, Moser of Brazil in 2002, changed the lives of thousands of poor people. He stumbled upon this idea while working in his mechanical workshop, when suddenly the electricity cut out and he was still left with his assignment. He then used a plastic bottle to converge the solar light and illuminate the dark interiors.
How it is done : A trash plastic bottle is thoroughly washed and cleaned. Put water inside along with some quantity of bleach so as to check the growth of algae and other microorganisms. This bottle is then installed on roofs by cutting out a patch and then sealing with an epoxy. And it’s done! The bulb is capable of illuminating equivalent to a 40-60 watt electric bulb. These bulbs are now being installed in Bangladesh, Tanzania, Argentina, Fiji, Philippines and India. According to Moser, the bulb works best with a black cap on.
3D printing technology is a new buzz all over the world. With the technique it is very easy to efficiently create anything from shoes, gadgets to robots and bikes. Usually 3D technology uses a variety of raw materials such as plastic, metal and rubber. An Indian based firm named Protoprint innovated an addition to the raw material – waste plastic, which is spread over large parts of India and many other countries. They collected the waste with the help of SWaCH cooperative society and converted it into a raw material.
How it is done : The plastic waste is collected and High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plastics (milk bottles, washing detergent bottles, food storage containers, bottle caps) are separated from other. They are then melted at a specific temperature and dyes are added accordingly.
Prof. Rajagopalan, with his experiments with plastic once again came up with an innovation in 2012. He then invented a plastic stone. It is actually a stone coated with thick layers of plastic taken from waste. The plastone is water resistant and impervious to wear and tear.
How it is done : The plastic waste, from PET, HDPE, PVC to LDPE and every type of plastic, is cleaned, shredded and melted at high temperatures. It is then mixed with stones or granite or ceramic wastes and then moulded into desired shape and size. These plastones can be used for flooring, lining water reservoirs like canals, pools, etc., pavements and anything else. The plastones can bear higher pressures than other stones or tiles making it durable and secure.
DIY Decorative Items
There are hundreds of items that can be made by reusing bottles, containers, wrappers and bags. These items are very easy to make and can be made at home.
Plastic Bottles in garden
Plastic bottles can be used in lawns and gardens. The soda bottles can be used as planters and sprinklers. They can efficiently reduce the cost of many implements.
How it is done : For making water sprinklers, pierce needle sized holes in a pattern into the bottle, then connect the bottle to the water hose, and your DIY sprinkler is ready to use.
For making planters, cut out the plastic bottles into desired size. Decorate the containers with desired art! Mix compost with equal parts of soil and seed any plant into it.