To prevent pollution caused by litter and unmanaged plastic waste, the Government of India has banned the manufacture, import, storage, distribution, sale and use of identified single-use plastic items that have low utility and high Litter capacity. across the country.
The list of banned items – which came into effect from July 1 – includes plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice cream sticks, polystyrene for decoration (thermocol), plastic plates, cups, Glasses, cutlery included. Such as wrapping or packing film around forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays, sweets boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns, stirrers.
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To address the resolve to manage single-use plastic production, the government is also taking measures to create awareness towards the eradication of single-use plastics. Here are five student-led organizations that have followed the path of zero waste:
1. Project Sneh:
Have you ever wished that the disposable diapers worn by your children in their childhood were safe and eco-friendly? Disposable diapers have a layer of petroleum-based plastic that acts as a waterproof coating, reducing the risk to the environment. To fight this issue, Project Sneh, run by Naman Utreja of Motilal Nehru College, has manufactured reusable cloth diapers at affordable rates.
“Our diapers are the perfect choice for babies as well as the environment. They are skin friendly, reusable, easy to wash, eco-friendly,” he said.
CPSIA-certified diapers are suitable for babies up to three years of age for a minimum period of five months at a rate of Rs.50.
Following a cycle of ‘wear-wash-repeat’, these diapers help inculcate basic hygiene habits among all sections of the society across India.
Regarding the recent ban on single-use items, Uterja said, “This will be a great help as we promote the reuse of products by introducing different alternatives and creating awareness in the society”.
2. Project Sugam
What do you do after drinking all the water from a plastic bottle? Ideally, throw it in the trash or maybe use it as a carry on for your next outing.
Project Sugam is collecting single-use plastic bottles to make eco-bricks for creating publicly accessible washrooms in Delhi. Sugam, led by Ishita Mahajan and Kriti Jain from Jesus and Mary College, has won the ‘People’s Choice Award’ at the Enactus World Cup, 2021 for this charitable endeavour.
Elaborating on Sugam, Mahajan said, “We make eco-bricks by packing single-use plastic in plastic bottles to serve as an ideal and reusable building block. They are made entirely of non-recyclable plastic, which when combined with cement and mortar forms a strong and resilient structure.
Sugam has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 2531 kg over the previous year by collecting 1646 kg of single-use non-recyclable plastic. Kriti Jain said that each structure will reduce 1538 kg of carbon dioxide emissions.
Further, in the long term, Sugam aims to diversify and use eco-bricks for manufacturing of other products such as dustbins and handicap-friendly street furniture, and expand operations outside Delhi NCR.
3. Project Tabeer
‘Tabir’ means ‘interpretation of dreams’. The aim of this project is to fulfill the dream of creating a secure and sustainable future for the generations to come. Directed by Manya Dodwani and Anmol Jagetia of Satyavati College, Tabir creates betel nut to replace plastic tableware.
Betel nut is a tree found in the southernmost regions and eastern parts of India, which has medicinal properties used for the treatment of glaucoma. “We use betel leaf to make betel nut cutlery by heating and pressing it in the machine. It is 100% chemical free, biodegradable, oven friendly and leak proof.
In addition, the waste generated while making betel nut cutlery is used as animal feed, making it a zero waste project.
4. Project Kadira
“The importance of menstrual hygiene is considered paramount in the life of every menstruating person. Our team believes in striving to all heights to make the world accessible to basic sanitary napkins,” said the founder of Project Cadira and Bennett University, Greater Noida student Drishti Makhijani said.
Project Kadira aims to offer a range of sanitary pads that are skin friendly, reusable, economical and eco-friendly. “A disposable sanitary pad contains 90 per cent plastic, which is hazardous to menstrual health and also contaminates soil, air and water when dumped. Our pads are safe, reusable and non-polluting,” said Makhijani.
To expand its objective of educating the public, Project Kadira has organized and curated 17+ Menstrual Literacy with translations available in multiple languages (English, Hindi and other regional languages) approved by gynecologists and teachers .
Recently, Project Kadira, in association with Enactus India, hosted India’s largest youth-led menstrual and sex education campaign called PAHAL. The program was addressed by artist Avanti Nagraal and Gynecologist Dr Anjali Kumar, who greeted the audience with music and songs, who presented their perspective on the dire need of menstrual literacy.
Currently, Kadira is working on creating a D2C brand called ‘Kadira Hygiene’.
5. Project Basera
Personal protective equipment commonly known as PPE was welcomed during the coronavirus pandemic. But, we are little aware of the dark reality of PPE. PPE has added to the plastic crisis contributing to the destruction of our environment.
To tackle this issue, Vanshika Bansal, a third year student of Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, along with her team at Project Basera, has been collecting PPE scrap for the past two years and converting it into multipurpose mats and bags . “During Covid-19 PPE waste had reached tremendous heights for which there is no disposable mechanism, and we have a solution,” she said. Project Basera addresses the problem of urban homelessness and the management of plastic waste from both textile/PPE scraps.
Delving into the details of the production, Bansal said, “The scrap collected from PPE is recycled into multipurpose mats and bags through the braiding process and shipped from the manufacturing site with the help of distribution partners to the customers. ” In an effort to uplift the underprivileged communities, Basera also provides employment to women belonging to government shelter homes.
With an aim to transform the lives of homeless women through this entrepreneurial action, Basera has organized sensitization sessions, regular surveys, health camps, educational webinars etc. for the under-privileged communities belonging to shelter homes.
In view of the government’s decision to ban plastic, Bansal said, “When we see the government’s support, it motivates us and increases the problem we are solving. Now is the time to start looking for alternatives to plastic, as we have already suffered a lot.”
(The author is an intern at The Indian Express Online)
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