How a plastic menace is turned into assistance for villagers
October 2nd , 2018 | Dr Medha Tadpatrikar
Plastic menace is cared less by us
Most of us progress through life without giving much thought about our surroundings. After a while, we stop noticing things. Everyday our life in city is filled with lots of trials and tribulations that waste is least of our worries until something does not work.
We were also one those who knew about plastic waste and its implications but didn't gave it much thought till we witnessed an incidence which made us think internally and ask questions.
Inception of Rudra Solutions
In 2009 , I, with my partner Shirish Phadtare had gone to one of the wild life sanctuary with our respective families. One morning our guide informed us that our route has been changed. As natural curiosity we inquired about the reason, and were told it's because of the death of some deer. Next day naturally our interest was piqued when we discovered the real reason for death of those deer, as we had expected some wild animal was responsible for those deaths. Later we found out that the reason for the death was plastic in the stomach of the deer. Naturally we were appalled with this news. For most it would have been a story to be respected at the dinner parties, but for us, it was a turning point in our life.
We didn't give it much thought then but for the next few months every time we used to discuss about this trip we used to feel frustrated about the waste plastic and used to say to each other someone should do something about this menace of type of things, there should be strict penalties for people who throw garbage on roadside. I guess after few times us repeating similar conversation we both thought of understanding the problem of waste plastic and to see if we could find a solution to this.
From day one we were ready for the failure as we did not think that we will find some solution. But the curiosity and determination was there so was eagerness to learn. Shirish and I have no engineering background, so first few months it was learning and knowledge gathering. As we did not knew much we used to have really wild ideas and many questions to various experts. We were very fortunate to meet so many experts who explained and cleared many doubts. When frozen water turns to ice and at room temperature it turns back to water, in similar lines if plastic is made from crude can we turn it back to hydro carbon fuel.
This thought was the basis of our future experiments, and soon it became the focus of our life. So began journey of Rudra Environmental Solution. It is name of lord Shankara, who is destroyer, and we are destroying the waste.
Women Awareness Program
Experiments lead to many more experiments for safer output
After kitchen experiments, we built our first machine where we manage to turn the waste plastic to fuel. Our happiness soon turned in to more experiments and learning as someone pointed out that we are emitting the gases that were produced in the conversation process.
It took us almost two years to save money for our project and to learn about the characteristics of the gas. We developed the second machine in 2013 in which we started to use the gases produced in the process as energy sources for the machine itself.
Even though we were successful by this time, we had turned into mad scientist, every day coming up with new ideas for improvement. Since this time we started to refer to Shirish as vision engineer, simply because he used to come up with some crazy but still workable ideas. After running, the plant continuously for couple of years we designed the third plant and only then started to market and sale the machine that successfully converted all kinds of waste plastic into fuel, which had higher calorific value.
Awareness campaign in society towards plastic
While all this development was happening, we started to create awareness of segregation at source in terms of waste plastic. But soon realized that simple talk without action does not hold bring about any change and when a senior citizen’s passing comment (Even if I starts segregating, when it goes out it will be mixed with other garbage and will mostly end up in landfill. ) struck a cord with me. So, I promised to pick up the plastic from his home if he starts collecting and the collection began. At first i used to go out with my driver and used to collect waste plastic in my car. Soon the word of mouth has spread across city. Now, through our NGO ‘Keshav Sita Trust we collect waste plastic from almost 16,000 households, businesses, hotels in Pune, Baramati, Bhimashankar. Recently we have started collection from Thane and Dombiwali. All collection is done by our two tempo and team of five.
Solution with a purpose for rural villagers
We are working as a social enterprise, so the focus of this work was mainly to help society.So when we used to go to rural area for collection we realized the women in villages rely partly on wood fire. Sometimes they would use the plastic for burning too. We encouraged them to use the plastic fuel for the burning to reduce the cutting of trees and stop the burning of plastic. This has had a great impact on their daily lives.
It is really inspiring to see that citizens are becoming aware and want to do something about it. We have many senior citizens who segregate and donate the plastic. They and kids inspire us.
Change in mindset towards plastic
The attitude towards waste is changing slowly, and the Swatch Bharat Mission and recent plastic ban in Maharashtra has had a great impact on citizens, which is evident in increase in segregation and recycling.
We have collected around 4, 50,000 kg of waste plastic till now and our is a long way towards the fight.
The author of the story are Founders of Rudra Solutions(Dr. Medha Tadpatrikar & CMA Shirish Phadtare) and can be reached at email@example.com
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