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Plastic waste: Management practices and Business Opportunities

Plastic recycling: a business opportunity

What is Waste?

The process of urbanization and increasing population is creating forums for the generation of heavy amounts of waste. Waste is generated from industries, municipal solid wastes, and manufacturing processes. Basel Convention defines waste as follows, ‘’Wastes” are substances or objects which are disposed of or are intended to be disposed of or are required to be disposed of by the provisions of national law. Waste can be both organic and inorganic. Waste is generally classified into the following six categories namely:

  • organic
  • paper
  • Plastic
  • glass
  • metals
  • other

Further, waste can be categorized on the basis of substance, source, hazardous properties, and management.

Generation of waste

What includes in waste management?

Waste management involves the following steps:

  • Collection
  • Transport
  • Processing
  • Recycling or disposal
  • Monitoring of waste material.

The waste management system includes residue collection, transport, pre-treatment, processing, and final reduction of the residue. The very aim of waste management is to provide sanitary living conditions in order to reduce the quantity of matter entering or leaving society and to promote the reuse of matter within society.

Knowing about Plastic Waste!

Plastic comprises organic solid materials that are synthetic or semi-synthetic in nature. Plastics usually consist of polymers having high molecular weight. Typically, they are synthetic, most often originating from petrochemicals, but many are partly natural.

Penetration of plastic encircles all facets of human life, such as packaging, agriculture, water transport, building, telecommunications, education, medicine, transport, defense, consumer durables. Plastics exhibit an enormous range of properties which makes them quite popular. Therefore there exists an increasing demand for plastics in modern living to enhance the quality of life. The amount of plastic waste in municipal solid waste (MSW) is growing due to population growth, construction activities, and lifestyle changes.

  1. Types of plastics

Seven types of plastics as per the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) Are:

1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE or PET)
2. High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
3. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
4. Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
5. Polypropylene (PP)
6. Polystyrene or Styrofoam (PS)
7. Miscellaneous plastics


Is plastic problematic?

Plastic can take as many as one thousand years to degrade, it is becoming a long-lasting environmental problem for today’s generation and those to come.

Plastic pollution is a phenomenon wherein the accumulation of plastic occurs in the environment which casts harmful effects on both humans and wildlife. The very fact that plastics are inexpensive and durable, paves a way for humans to use it repeatedly.

Land, rivers and oceans are adversely affected by plastic contamination. Living organisms, specifically marine animals, may also be affected by entanglement, direct ingestion of plastic waste, or by exposure to plastic chemicals that cause biological function interruptions. Plastic contamination also impacts humans, such as through the disturbance of the thyroid hormone axis or levels of sex hormone.

Handling plastic waste through 3R’S

Industrialization and urbanization are leading to increasing levels of plastic waste generation at a tremendous rate. The work at hand is to manage plastic in an efficient manner, keeping in view to maintaining the ecological balance.

The process of recycling is to transform waste materials into new products in order to prevent wastage of materials having potential. The disposal of plastic waste is governed by one of the procedures:

  • Reuse,
  • Recycling,
  • Landfills
  • Incineration

In order to promote the processing of secondary raw materials, recycling plastic requires integrating various plastic waste technologies. Two variants called thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics are grouped under the genre of plastics.

Polyolefin, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), LDPE, HDPE, or PP, are recyclable thermoplastics. Unlike condensation polymers, added polymers such as PE are not easily recycled using simple chemical techniques. Incineration and chemical recycling (pyrolysis) forms the basis of plastic recycling.

Various routes proposed for the recycling of waste plastics include:

  • Primary
  • Mechanical recycling.

Primary recycling includes in-plant waste recycle of scrap substances. Mechanical recycling involves the process of separating plastics from their contaminants and thereafter processing through melting, shredding, or other similar processes. Further mechanical recycling is inclusive of the separation of numerous plastic resins as per their chemical orientation.

  1. Plastic Recycling sector In India:

The recycling sector in India is diffused into formal and informal.

  • Formal recycling units require registration, tax payment, and the municipality keeps a check on them.
  • Some landfills are also used for waste management purposes, such as the temporary storage, consolidation, and transfer, or processing of waste material (sorting, treatment, or recycling).
  • Through the process of incineration which is a waste treatment process, the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials takes place.
  1. Reuse, Reduce, And Recycle:

Plastic pollution can be controlled by adhering to the principles of reducing, reusing, and recycling. The following ways can be incorporated into the daily routine:

  • Adoption of practices to discourage the use of disposable plastic
  • Minimal use of plastic items
  • Campaigning and Public awareness mechanism
  • Refusing to use plastic
  • National ban and levy

Plastic recycling: a business opportunity?

Plastic waste and recycling are paving way for entrepreneurs to dig gold out of the waste materials. it has the potential to be reused. It efficiently engineered into reusable end products. Further, two or more plastics can be combined with additional additives and end up being useful.

Plastics can be put to use in road construction and can be molded using the process of Powder Impression Moulding (PIM). Moreover, recycled plastic can be encapsulated by a thin layer of higher-value plastic under the encapsulation.

Setting up the plastic recycling business:

There are certain prerequisites require to start a successful business of plastic recycling:

  • Conducting thorough research
  • Crafting a business plan
  • Getting the business register with the required capital and location
  • Investing in machinery and equipment
  • Promotion of business
  1. Plastic waste recycling Process:

  • Plastic waste collection and dumping
  • Sorting and separation of plastic waste.
  • Grinding
  • supply of plastic raw material to a recycling unit
  • Initiation of the Recycling process
  • Process of compressing and melting raw materials
  • Pellet formation
  • New product manufacturing


Plastic waste and recycling are setting cornerstone in modern times. In order to reuse plastic and put it to further use, cost-effective ways could be implemented. Recycling can help generate job opportunities and help in business expansion.

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