Reusing and Reclycling Plastic Waste In Underdeveloped And Developing Countries...With A Hint Of Art!
Waste management is important for environment and in long term it might affect climate. Waste management scenario in urban areas of developing and underdeveloped countries is very disappointing. Waste management deals with a lot of things and a lot of materials. But plastic waste is very critical since it is non-biodegradable and can become toxic for the soil, water and air. This proposal talks about the idea of establishing an organization run by youth in urban areas of underdeveloped and developing countries that would deal only with waste plastic aesthetically. A school would be established in every 100 square kilometers of each city that would be called the “Plastic” school and would be run by the youth. This school would collect waste plastic from the local communities and use these plastic for creating various types of artwork. Anyone can make good things with customized new plastics, but this school would deal with the challenge of making beautiful things with not so beautiful waste plastic. There will be teachers, students and researches who would work to develop and promote this branch of artwork. Moreover, this school would have an office that would be open for people to donate their plastic wastes. The school would collect the plastic waste, keep them in the inventory and supply them to the teachers and students for use. The school would also promote the idea of better management and recycling of plastic wastes and advocate for environment preservation.
Category of action
Youth Leadership on Climate Change
What actions do you propose?
With the emerging economy and industrial advancement, Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, is growing bigger and faster each day. The growing economy, rapid urbanization and industrial boom bring in more people into the city and hence with more people, waste generation increases. But, the backdated waste dumping system of Dhaka can only take care of nearly 30% of the generated waste. The rest pollute the environment, make the localities dirty and unhygienic and even sometimes kill trees (http://www.thedailystar.net/garbage-dumping-killing-trees-32002 ) . This problem lies with not just Dhaka, but with many other cities in underdeveloped and developing countries like India, Nepal, Nigeria and many other. Improper waste management has long-term climatic effect and directly affects public health.
Many advanced waste management technologies already exist which have been adapted by first world countries. But for countries like Bangladesh, India , Nepal etc, these procedures are -
i) Not financially affordable
ii) Not suitable with the lifestyle of the mass people since majority of the people belong to the low-income block and their lifestyle has very little scope for proper garbage dumping
iii) Incapable to fit into the current infrastructure and are not aligned with the public policies. These countries need more infrastructural development to make room for such technologies.
The generated waste has a huge amount of plastic materials. Since plastic is not bio-degradable, it affects the soil, water and air to a great extent. A lot of companies in developed countries collect back the empty plastic containers of their products (e.g. Lush cosmetics gives a jar of their new products in exchange of three empty plastic containers of their product). Such practices are not very feasible in developing countries since the qualities of the provided plastic material are not so good most of the time. So, these plastics are garbage after use.
Since the plastic wastes are not properly collected, attended and recycled in underdeveloped and developing countries but are very harmful for environment, the plastic wastes should be collected and treated in some other way.
Establishment of the “Plastic" school:
There would be a school run by the local youth in every 100 square kilometers that would collect plastic wastes of that given area. This would be an art school that would work only on plastic art like making toys, things of domestic use, jewelries, accessories, decorative items etc only with waste plastic. Waste plastic artwork already exists where people make fancy things with used water bottle, broken plastic containers etc. This school would have trained up trainers/teachers who would teach students who are interested in waste plastic art. They would also go to the schools in that community weekly and take classes on how to make different things with waste plastic. This school will not deal with any kind of new or fresh plastic but only with torn and used waste plastic that are dumped as waste by local community.
There will be a part of the "Plastic" school that would ask the people of that community to donate their plastic wastes to the school. People can donate any kind of plastic waste, be it polybags or computer hardware made of plastic. People can also donate plastic waste if they find any in public places like streets or public transport. After the collection, the plastics would be cleaned and made germ and odor free.
The cleaned collected plastic waste would be sent to an inventory. The teachers and the students would be able to use these plastics in inventory to make different things. Any one can enroll in this school and learn to make different kind of artworks with waste plastic. There would be an annual exhibition held by each “Plastic” school where the creations of the students and the teachers would be exhibited. Inter-“Plastic” school competitions would be held too and the best schools would be awarded in different categories. Every school would also have sort of a museum that would preserve their own art creations.
The school would also have a shop. People can buy things made by the students and teachers for reasonable price.
The school would have a body that would to approach different companies that work with plastic products to take waste plastics from the school inventory and use them in production rather than using new plastic (as long as the waste plastics are reusable and non-toxic). The school also would have some academicians and researchers involved to encourage better studies on local waste plastic and on how to reuse and recycle them. The researchers would be funded to do research on feasible and environment-safe plastic dumping solutions for underdeveloped and developing countries. Moreover, the school authority would also work on approaching the local government to adapt better technologies to manage and recycle plastic waste.
This school would also uphold the idea of preserving environment. If not the 3Rs of waste management (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) , this proposal can at least serve 2 of the Rs, reuse and recycle.
Who will take these actions?
i) Local youth who would be working as teachers and officers of that school. They are the key players of the idea of the school. Their ideas and contribution would be mostly welcomed to develop the entire school.
ii) Senior year Students of fine arts and fine arts experts would be engaged in this project to promote plastic art and craftwork.
iii) The local government would be engaged to train the teachers and volunteers and to provide school building and office space.
iv) Waste management experts, local engineers and researchers would also be affiliated with the school as consultants to make sure better technologies and alternatives can be proposed while needed.
What are other key benefits?
i) It would reduce the amount of plastic wastes that remain there unattended and pollute the environment massively.
ii) In most underdeveloped and developing countries, different types of wastes ( organic waste, combustible waste, non-combustible waste etc) are not collected separately.This proposal would make that segregation possible to some extent. Hence, it will be easier to design plans to take care of non-plastic wastes too.
iii) Since working with broken used plastic is more challenging than working with fresh customized plastic made solely for artwork purposes, this idea would add a new dimension to this branch of plastic art.
iv)This would engage almost the entire community for better waste management and materialize the 2 of the 3Rs of waste management (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) without making people feel burdened with new civic responsibility.
v) This project would be financially affordable and infrastructurally feasible for underdeveloped and developing countries.
What are the proposal’s costs?
The wages are already very low in underdeveloped and developed countries. It is not very expensive to run an art school in a city like Dhaka. A model school in Dhaka can easily function with an annual budget of BDT 20 to 30 lakh (approximately, USD 25000-USD 40000).
The establishment of the school would take not more than about 1 year. Once it is established with infrastructure and manpower, it can continue to work over 15-20 years term.
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David Montero,( 2005) “Trash is Cash in Bangladesh”; The Daily Star, Dhaka.
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