Thursday May 30, 2024

Plastics waste recycling: an unexplored realm of green opportunities

September 25, 2023

Islamabad:The country’s economic meltdown, increasing inflation and mass exodus of educated youth amid unemployment pressure calls for exploring novel business ideas for livelihood and sustenance of our youth capital.

Experts believe that shifting from traditional businesses and industry to modern and novel ideas like plastic waste recycling can offer innovative and eco-friendly business and livelihood for our idle and jobless youth.

Pakistan has emerged among the top populous countries having a huge population of 240 million with over 65% per cent of its population comprising of youth that barely had any clear direction to improve their lifestyle, living, and income.

The country, according to the International Trade Administration (ITA), U.S. study, produced some 49.6 million tonnes of solid waste per annum with an annual increase of 2.4 percent.

It also lacks dedicated infrastructure based on scientific lines to manage waste collection, dumping, and eco-friendly degradation.

Pakistan’s massive waste generated never makes its journey to a proper dumping site or a technically managed source to be reproduced into eco-friendly or sustainable solutions. Therefore, both the public and private sectors will have to initiate small to large-scale projects of waste collection and recycling.

According to industry experts, the local market will continue to offer sizeable business opportunities to local and foreign companies for the foreseeable future as mentioned in the ITA study.

However, we can see some scattered initiatives like the Green Earth Recycling project in Lahore that can recycle hundreds tone of plastics per day producing a number of waste recycled items like manhole covers, benches, toilets waste bins, etc. The Company also creates staple fibre from plastic bottles whereas waste from plastic recycling is reused for making other products.

“We produce multiple daily use items like benches, tables, wracks, makeshift bathrooms etc., from plastic waste. Our products are not only used locally but also exported to other countries,” said Bilal Ahmed, Business Head of the Green Earth Recycling project.

“We also produce manhole covers from plastic waste and have installed 350 at Lahore’s,” he informed. The company was also selling six-layer wood pulp extracted from tetra pack for Rs100 per kg that has four layers of plastics, one of aluminium and one of paper.

He said the machinery used at the project was previously imported from Germany, China and Taiwan but now we are also focusing on indigenization. Our products are environment friendly as we do not use any chemical during processing and segregation of plastics for recycling.

Bilal Ahmed said the Company also creates staple fiber from plastic bottles to prepare non-concrete and water, snow, and pests resistant washrooms and kitchens, comprising 95% recycled material.

Mentioning Greed Earth Recycling, Lasani Fiber Industries and Tetrapak as pioneers in this business would not be out of context they are aggressively working on waste recycling into reusable eco-friendly material.

Lasani Fibre Industries is one of the leading companies in the country manufacturing regenerated, recycled, or carded polyester fibre through pet bottles. Last year, it recycled more than six million PET bottles. It is one of the collection sites of major beverages companies factories, and others. Last year we recycled approximately more than 18000 metric tons (Six million) bottles.

we are working with all major beverages factories,” informed an official of the company. “Our company prepares 32 products from PET bottles with a capacity of daily producing 55 tons of polyester fiber, he said and informed that some 11,000 tons of PET bottles were recycled from January 2023 to July 2023 although 170,000 Mt bottles are annually produced in Pakistan for beverages industry. The Lahore Waste Management Company is also offering young entrepreneurs and innovators to collaborate with it by coming up with implementable solutions for plastic recycling.

Methane gas management and other unique recycling solutions can help generate a new circular economy benefitting from the dark gold of plastic waste still unexplored. In Islamabad, the CEO of Trash Bee, Arsalan Ayaz, a university graduate-cum-entrepreneur has established an environmental services business that offers a waste recycling process.

The Company Trash Bee receives different types of waste and converts it into useful materials like raw materials, reusable products, and sustainable items that are environment friendly and can be used for various industrial units across the country. Arsalan Ayaz claims that it’s a comprehensive approach taken by Trash Bee, ensuring that waste materials are repurposed effectively, thereby reducing the strain on natural resources and contributing to a more sustainable future.

The environmentalist claims that the lack of academia, industry, and policymaking was further aggravating the waste disposal and recycling challenge and there is a dire need to patronize and promote this business.

We seldom see any initiative meant for bridging the waste generation and its disposal and recycling gap that adds to already growing waste heaps choking our sewerage systems in megacities and posing serious environmental and health hazards. Therefore, a shift was required to transform the conventional industry into a modern, circular, and sustainable industry of plastic recycling to help grow our economy and employment generation for communities living miserable life due to economic stress in the country.