Providing a further push to waste management initiatives in the state of Telengana, a plastic bottle recycling machine has been installed at the Kacheguda Railway station. The move attempts to manage the loads of plastic bottles that get discarded at these railway stations. Secunderabad and Kachiguda railway sations have already featured on the A1 category list prepared during the assessment by government for Swachh rankings in 2016. This step would take the stations a step further towards becoming India’s cleanest Railway station.
Recycling of plastic bottles: How does this work?
Bottles which would have otherwise been spewn on the platforms and tracks now find a new mode of disposal – the reverse wending machine. With an unique way of incentivizing recycling of waste bottles, the machine provides a coupon or Paytm points in return for a minimum number of bottles fed into the machine. The coupon may be exchanged at the station for food or retained as reward points or discounts. The plastic bottle that is recycled is then converted to produce a fabric known as polyester yarn.
What is a Reverse Vending machine?
A reverse wending machine is a kiosk that accepts used beverage cans/ plastic bottles that are to be recycled. The waste is crushed or pelletized and then resold further to industries. The machine is preinstalled with a coin hopper or a receipt or a coupon printing facility that can be used to incentivize these efforts.
Recycling machines that pay: Why is the incentive important?
- Incentives could take any form. They may be given out as cash, coupons, offers or food bills. This models thrives on incentives, however small they may be. The idea of receiving something in return as an appreciation always plays on the mind of citizens to recycle bottles safely. This would turn into a win-win scenario if the monetary value of the incentives handed are orginate through a sound business plan and are yet attractive.
- The informal sector – The rag pickers and kabadiwallahs thrive heavily upon the income from scavenging and picking waste bottles. An introduction of such a machine, can disrupt their daily income and challenge their livelihood. Hence a nominal incentive would not only encourage ragpickers to still remain in the system but also feed the machine with more plastic bottles.
Plastic bottle recycling: Should it remain a choice?
An assessment done by CPCB in 2009 reveals close to 4358 kg/day (32% water and soft drink bottles) of plastic waste is generated by New Delhi railway station. The numbers look a similar with Old Delhi station flushing close to 1428 kg/day (20% water and soft drink bottles) . These numbers although date back to 2009, are staggering. The increasing percentage of water and soft drinks bottles start to point fingers towards the need to effectively implement Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR). The waste management rules 2016 mandate the concept of EPR for plastic importers, producers and brand owners. The rules state:
The producers within a period of six months from the date of publication of these rules shall workout modalities for waste collection system based on EPR and involving state urban departments either individually or collectively through theirdistribution channel.
It is time companies start to take the onus to begin taking charge of their own waste.
How to recycle plastic bottles: Producers should teach us the way
The Plastic bottle recycling Machine offers a golden window for beverage companies to begin recycling waste from products being introduced in the market. These wending machines installed at public areas offer companies a channel for branding and EPR. Companies could even begin to selectively accept bottles into these Kiosks. These reverse wending machines have the capability to get installed with bar code sensors which could be used to accept products from specific brands.
I happened to try my hand at recycling a plastic bottle at the Kacheguda railway station in the video below:
Plastic bottle recycling machine: Is it time for the Container deposit Legislation?
The numbers definitely tell a story. Countries around the world are beginning to have polluters responsible for their waste stream thorugh container deposit legislations. The schemes require companies to charge the consumer a monetory deposit for milk, water, beverage at the point of sale. The same would be returned when the container is returned by the consumer.
- The state of South Australia refunds an amount of 10 cents per carton, can or bottle.
- In Belgium, smaller beer bottles hold a deposit of 0.10Euro, fruit juice bottles a Euro 0.30 deposit.
- Many states in the United States have introduced container deposit legislations deposits ranging from 5-10 cents per unit. (Source: Wikipedia)
The plastic bottle recycling machine could be the real deal for many companies who are able to capitalize on the opportunity. Companies could incentivize these as one of the efforts to comply with the mandate of EPR by charging the consumers a deposit. Afterall it is the matter of who pays to clear the mess, it definitely must be the polluter.