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Waste can be turned into an economic opportunity, says an Indian-Australian Scientist Veena Sahajwalla

The two-day event that addressed the need to develop the scrap recycling industry in India saw participation by over 280 delegates from the scrap and steel industry

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E-waste. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

New Delhi, Sept 11, 2016: An Indian-Australian scientist who has been looking for ways to transform waste into something useful, said here on Saturday that non-metallic waste can be turned into new economic opportunity.

“We can either consider non-metallic waste as an environmental burden or turn it into a brand new economic opportunity,” Veena Sahajwalla, Director at the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology at the University of New South Wales in Australia, said.

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Veena Sahajwalla. Pic from Twitter account.
Veena Sahajwala. Pic from Twitter account.

Sahajwalla, who invented Polymer Injection Technology (PIT) that can be used to recycle end-of-life rubber tyres to replace coal and coke in making a green steel, was speaking at “Scrap Recycling Conference – Emerging Markets”.

The two-day event that addressed the need to develop the scrap recycling industry in India saw participation by over 280 delegates from the scrap and steel industry.

“Green steel could be a potential solution deal with the growing problem of disposal of waste tyres globally,” Sahajwalla added.

The PIT or “green steel” technology introduces a simple modification into the conventional manufacturing process for steel precisely and controls the injection of granulated waste tyres in conventional electric arc furnace (EAF) steel making, partially replacing non-renewable coke.

Waste tyres, like coke, are good sources of hydrocarbons. This means they can be usefully transformed in EAF steel making, as long as the process of injecting them into the furnace is precisely calibrated.

However, though modern tyres are fundamentally rubber products, they are a complex mix of natural and synthetic rubbers, and various structural reinforcing elements such as metals and chemical additives, which makes the recycling process more complicated from the traditional methods.

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This complex nature of wastes has also led to stockpiling, dumping and diversion to landfill, exposing people to environmental and health risks.

“So from the traditional reduce, recycle and reuse one has to move towards reforming. It’s the transformation of waste to higher value products,” Sahajwalla noted.

In addition, the waste stocks are full of materials that contain valuable elements like carbon, hydrogen, silicon and metals that we would otherwise source from virgin raw materials.

The technology may not only help control pollution but also open several avenues for metal and scrap processors in India, Sahajwalla said. (IANS)

  • Manthra koliyer

    This can surely help us destroy all the debris.

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Cambodia Returns 1,600 Tons of Plastic Waste Exported from US, Canada

Neth Pheaktra said 70 of the containers were shipped from the U.S. and 13 came from Canada. Both countries are major waste exporters

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plastic waste
Containers loaded with plastic waste are pictured in Sihanoukville Port, southwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. July 16, 2019. VOA

Cambodian authorities have announced plans to return 1,600 tons of plastic waste exported from the U.S. and Canada, according to a high-ranking official from the Environmental Ministry.

Inspectors found the waste Tuesday. It was packed in 83 containers unloaded in Sihanoukville, one of Cambodia’s main ports.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra told VOA Khmer on Wednesday that “authorities are seeking the companies that smuggled the plastic waste in order to take legal action.”  He added that the waste would be returned “to the country of origin.”

Neth Pheaktra said 70 of the containers were shipped from the U.S. and 13 came from Canada. Both countries are major waste exporters.

plastic waste
80 percent of the waste found on 93 beaches was plastic. VOA

‘Not a dustbin’

“Cambodia is not a dustbin where foreign countries can dispose of out-of-date e-waste, and the government also opposes any import of plastic waste and lubricants to be recycled in this country,” said Neth Pheaktra.

In the past, Cambodian authorities have found radioactive and film waste arriving in Sihanoukville.  He said the plastic waste found this week was not biodegradable.

Emily Zeeberg, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia, said the embassy “is monitoring reports of plastic waste at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port.”

Zeeberg added that “we have requested additional information and are offering U.S. government assistance to determine both the exporter (country of origin) and the importing entity here in Cambodia.”

Sorn Chey, who works with the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, said the authorities should heed control mechanisms. “This is something that should not take place,” he added.

plastic waste
Scientists: China’s Ban Causes Plastic To Pile Up, Nations Must Reduce Usage. Pixabay

Chinese project

Cambodia’s rejection this week was the latest step in a trash crisis that emerged when China began Operation Green Fence in February 2013. It was aimed at reducing the vast amounts of contaminated recyclables and waste sent to China.

ALSO READ: Mahindra Group Chairman: No More Plastic Bottles at Boardroom Meeting

In January 2018, Beijing banned almost all imports of two dozen types of recyclable materials, such as plastics, mixed paper and electronic waste. Now, unless the materials are clean and sorted so they are unmixed, China rejects them.

Since then, other countries in Southeast Asia that accepted waste have started to turn it away. In May, Malaysia returned 450 tons of plastic waste to the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands. Earlier this month, Indonesia rejected waste from Australia. (VOA)