These Indian fishermen take plastic out of the sea and use it to build roads

Erik Solheim India Plastic Pollution Beach

Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations in a campaign against plastic pollution in India (UN Environment, #CleanSeas campaign)

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: John McKenna, Formative Content

Every one of India’s 1.3 billion people uses an average 11kg of plastic each year. After being used, much of this plastic finds its way to the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, where it can maim and kill fish, birds and other marine wildlife.

Fisherman in India’s southern state of Kerala are taking on the battle to cut the level of plastic waste in the oceans.

When the trawlers drag their nets through the water, they end up scooping out huge amounts of plastic along with the fish. Until recently the fishermen would simply throw the plastic junk back into the water.

But last summer Kerala’s fisheries minister J. Mercykutty Amma started a scheme to change this. Under her direction, the state government launched a campaign called Suchitwa Sagaram, or Clean Sea, which trains fishermen to collect the plastic and bring it back to shore.

In Suchitwa Sagaram’s first 10 months, fisherman have removed 25 tonnes of plastic from the Arabian Sean, including 10 tonnes of plastic bags and bottles, according to a UN report on the scheme.

From waste to roads

Once all the plastic waste caught by the Keralan fishermen reaches the shore, it is collected by people from the local fishing community – all but two of whom are women – and fed into a plastic shredding machine.

Like so many of India’s plastic recycling schemes, this shredded plastic is converted into material that is used for road surfacing.

There are more than 34,000km of plastic roads in India, mostly in rural areas. More than half of the roads in the southern state of Tamil Nadu are plastic. This road surface is increasingly popular as it makes the roads more resilient to India’s searing heat. The melting point for plastic roads is around 66°C, compared to 50°C for conventional roads.

Using recycled plastic is a cheaper alternative to conventional plastic additives for road surfaces. Every kilometre of plastic road uses the equivalent of a million plastic bags, saving around one tonne of asphalt. Each kilometre costs roughly 8% less than a conventional road.

And plastic roads help create work. As well as the Keralan fishing crews, teams of on-land plastic pickers across India collect the plastic waste. They sell their plastic to the many small plastic shredding businesses that have popped up across the country.

Plastics ban

The need for schemes such as Suchitwa Sagaram is emphasised by research that shows 90% of the plastic waste in the world’s oceans is carried there by just 10 rivers – two of which are in India.

According to a study by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, India’s Indus and Ganges rivers carry the second and sixth highest amounts of plastic debris to the ocean. The Indian Ocean, meanwhile, is choked with the second highest amount of plastic out of all of the world’s oceans.

Image: Statista

Like Kerala’s fisheries minister, Indian politicians appear to be taking action in the face of this mounting crisis.

This month India’s prime minister Narendra Modi pledged to eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022, starting with an immediate ban in urban Delhi.

The move came just three months after India’s western state of Maharashtra issued a ban virtually all types of plastic bag, disposable cutlery, cups and dishes, as well as plastic containers and packaging.

Residents face fines from 5,000 rupees (US$73) for a first time offence to 25,000 rupees ($367) and jail time for repeat offenders, while the state’s Environment Department is also encouraging people to recycle bottles and milk bags through a buy-back scheme.

While’s India’s plastic problem is substantial due to the size of its population and its rate of economic growth, schemes such as those in Maharashtra, Delhi and Kerala set an example to western nations.

In the US, for example each person on average generates up to 10 times the amount of plastic waste generated by their Indian counterpart.

If western nations followed India’s lead of combining political pressure with entrepreneurial ventures, perhaps the world will stand of a chance of avoiding the predicted catastrophe of there being more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Here’s how data can shine a light on financial crime

The Schengen area is at a crossroads

These countries have some of the highest voter turnout in the world

Brexit: European Commission publishes Communication on preparing for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU

Towards a tobacco free India

Youth2030: UN chief launches bold new strategy for young people ‘to lead’

The MWC14 Sting Special Edition

What is hydroponics – and is it the future of farming?

First peaceful transfer of power in DR Congo ‘an extraordinary opportunity’ for advancing rights

UN forum spotlights cities, where struggle for sustainability ‘will be won or lost’

World Health Organisation and medical students: is there any room for improvement?

“France will be there, it will always be there!”, French President Hollande says in a rather disorganised speech; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

Is there a cure for corruption in Greece?

Fashion’s hot new trend: clothes you don’t need to wash (very often)

The EU Consumer Policy on the Digital Market: A Behavioral Economics View

Congolese expelled from Angola returning to ‘desperate situation’: UN refugee agency

What do the economic woes of Turkey, Argentina and Indonesia have in common?

Parliament wants to suspend EU accession negotiations with Turkey

Why Indian students are going abroad to become Doctors?

Office workers in these economies clock up the most extra hours

The Franco-German axis considers that all EU needs now is more armaments

Cancer is a growing global threat and prevention is key, UN study shows

How Hawaii plans to be the first US state to run entirely on clean energy

The secret weapon in the fight for sustainability? The humble barcode

Athens searches frantically for a new compromise between politics and economic reality

We need a fresh approach to climate change migration. This is why

‘Warp speed’ technology must be ‘force for good’ UN chief tells web leaders

Gaza probe finds ‘reasonable grounds’ Israeli forces committed international human rights violations

Report on EU trade defence – effective protection against unfair trade

EU job-search aid worth €9.9m for 1,858 former Air France workers

FROM THE FIELD: Survival in Yemen against all odds

Four million Syrian children have only known war since birth: UNICEF

MEPs list conditions for new EU-Azerbaijan deal

10 million Yemenis ‘one step away from famine’, UN food relief agency calls for ‘unhindered access’ to frontline regions

Paris, Washington, IMF against Berlin and ECB on money and interest

Future fit: 3 ways fashion can be more sustainable

FROM THE FIELD: Faces and Voices of Conflict

UN agencies welcome green light for Rohingya projects in northern Myanmar; urge ‘more effective access’

North Korean families facing deep ‘hunger crisis’ after worst harvest in 10 years, UN food assessment shows

Why capital markets have no more reservetions about Eurozone

SMEs and micro firms sinking together with south Eurozone

Innovation can transform the way we solve the world’s water challenges

UN says ‘many humanitarian achievements’, one year after ouster of ISIL from Mosul

The Brexit factor in the US-China trade war and other conflicts

‘Continuing absence’ of political solution to Israel-Palestine conflict ‘undermines and compounds’ UN efforts to end wholesale crisis

GSMA Announces Speakers for Mobile 360 – Russia & CIS 2018

The Brits are not an exception and that’s why they voted to leave

Fighting forest fires in Europe – how it works

European Semester 2018 Spring Package: Commission issues recommendations for Member States to achieve sustainable, inclusive and long-term growth

In Rome you can swap plastic bottles for metro tickets

EU Budget: A Reform Support Programme and an Investment Stabilisation Function to strengthen Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union

Fairness in the food supply chain: Commission proposes to increase price transparency

Meet Alice, the battery-powered plane that could herald the age of electric air travel

Eurozone slowly but surely builds its Banking Union

Ten reasons to be optimistic in 2019

Another doomed EU attempt to interfere in Libya?

Facebook/Cambridge Analytica: MEPs pursue personal data breaches probe

Inclusion, equality a must for ‘long-lasting peace and sustainable development’, UN official tells high-level event in Baku

Satellites and data are going to help us phase out fossil fuels. Here’s how

These are 2018’s stats of the year

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s