Like many other places around the world, India has a big problem with plastic waste. Its 1.3 billion people each use an average of 24 pounds of plastic per year and much of it ends up in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.
Fishermen in India’s southern state of Kerala have taken on the battle against plastic waste in the ocean by launching a campaign called Suchitwa Sagaram, or Clean Sea, in which they are collecting the plastic and bringing it back to shore.
In the first 10 months of the program, fisherman have removed 25 tons of plastic from the Arabian Sea. Once the plastic waste reaches shore, it is fed into a plastic shredding machine. As is the case for many of India’s plastic recycling schemes, the shredded plastic from the sea is converted into material that is used for road surfacing.
There are more than 20,000 miles of plastic roads in India, mostly in rural areas. In fact, more than half the roads in the southern state of Tamil Nadu are plastic. Such roads have become popular because they are more resilient to India’s searing heat. The melting point of plastic roads is around 150 degrees Fahrenheit as compared to 122 degrees for conventional roads.
Roads made from recycled plastic are also cheaper than ones using conventional plastic additives. A mile of plastic road uses the equivalent of a million and a half plastic bags and saves about a ton and a half of asphalt. Overall, plastic roads are about 8% cheaper than conventional roads and create jobs for people in the fishing communities.
India’s plastic roads are a promising way to fight the problem of ocean plastic pollution.
These Indian fishermen take plastic out of the sea and use it to build roads
Photo, posted April 25, 2016, courtesy of Bo Eide via Flickr.
Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.
Leave a Reply