There’s going to be more face masks than jellyfish in the ocean very soon. These discarded face masks, and every other imperishable waste that harms the planet, is a man-made concept. Simply relocating them is not going to solve the issue.
27-year-old Binish Desai, known as the “recycle man of India,” immersed himself in his home laboratory to come up with an ingenious solution – Brick 2.0 – to tackle the rising demand for PPE suits and masks. Since April 2020, he’s been recycling bio-medical waste especially single-use masks, head cover, and non-woven PPE kit, into bricks that are claimed to be environmentally friendly.
His company, Gujarat-based Eco-Eclectic Technologies, has already started commercial production in September 2020. Earlier, in 2010, Binish had developed P-bricks, which were mainly made from paper waste, leftovers of chewing gum, some organic binders, and plant extracts. The new bricks are an updated version of P-bricks.
Binish’s Brick 2.0 contains 52% shredded PPE and masks, 45% paper waste, and 3% specially developed binder. After following good sanitation protocols, the material is shredded, added to industrial waste paper obtained from paper mills, then mixed with a binder. The mixture is stored for 5-6 hours before being put into a mold. The bricks are naturally dried for three days, and the products are ready to use.
The new variant, Brick 2.0, is stronger and more durable, making it three times stronger than conventional bricks at twice the size and half the price. It is fire retardant, recyclable, and absorbs less than 10% water to ensure a good grip on the plasters.
Safety and hygiene are paramount when handling medical waste. Binish admitted they followed the guidelines of the Central Pollution Control Board. PPE waste must be kept untouched for 72 hours before processing. Binish also introduced something called Eco Bins to collect the waste generated in hospitals, police stations, other places where the staff or people are using PPE kits and medical-grade masks.
The bins have an indication mark to show that it is full. Once it is full, the waste is left untouched for the next 72 hours, and then it is disinfected thoroughly and shredded in Eco Centers.
The bricks would be used in the construction of private homes and factories. Each brick is 12 x 8 x 4 inches in size, and it uses 7 kg of biomedical waste per square foot. Binish claims it is lighter and stronger compared to the P-Block 1.0 and costs Rs 2.8 per piece.