Tech can help people turn plastic waste into bricks and tiles

Plastic products have become an integral part of our daily life as a basic need. It produced on a massive scale worldwide and its production crosses the 150 million tonnes per year globally. In India, approximately 8 Million tonnes of plastic products are consumed every year (2008) which is expected to rise by 12 million tones by 2012.

Almost, 70% of total plastic consumption is discarded as waste, thus approximately 5.6 million tons per annum (TPA) of plastic waste is generated in the country, which is about 15342 tons per day.

Having concern over this issue, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, have developed a technology that will turn plastic waste into useful products likes tiles and bricks.

Scientists used polymer substance (HDPE or high-density polyethylene material), some fibrous substance and a chemical to bind the polymer and fiber materials to form the composites.

People can use just about any plastic waste – old or broken plastic buckets, used pipes, bottles or mobile covers. For the fibrous substance, anything that is fibrous can be used – wheat, rice and corn straws or jute, coir, hemp fibers or even human hair.

Shishir Sinha, Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Institute said, “The technology is very simple. A person has to just heat up a mixture (up to 110 to 140 degrees) of plastic and fibrous materials in a mold with the chemical and then let it cool for some time. A nice tile or a brick would be ready for use.”

“We have developed this chemical by using domestically available ingredients. It would cost only around Rs. 50 per 100 gram. This means people in villages will be able to produce a set of 10 one sq ft tiles at a cost of just about Rs 100.”

“The technology could be used with any material including waste. We focused on human hair mainly because it is one material that will be available in plenty in any villages and hamlets including those with the poorest. They just lay scattered, sometimes even clogging drains and water bodies. We wanted to ensure that at least some of the work we do could be of use to the poorest of the poor. This technology would help achieve that.”