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RIL inks pact with CSIR-NCL to make useful products from Covid-19 PPE waste

On Thursday, September 23, 2021 at 05:45 IST

Reliance Industries (RIL), one of the largest private sector corporations in India, has joined hands with CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL), a research, development and consulting organization, to manufacture useful moulded plastic components from Covid-19 PPE (personal protective equipment) waste. These components can be used in agriculture and automotive sectors.

The breakthrough has been achieved after undertaking a successful pilot project which confirmed having potential to scale up and replicate throughout the country to convert PPE waste into useful and safe products.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in February 2020 in India, there has been a sharp increase in demand for single use plastic items such as PPE, masks, gloves, etc. As a consequence, more than 200 tonnes of Covid-19 related waste was generated every day in May 2021 in India. So far, this hazardous PPE waste is seen incinerating at central waste management (BMWM) facilities. Incineration is energy-intensive and leads to the release of harmful greenhouse gases.

CSIR-NCL and RIL, in addition to other companies, embarked on a mission to develop an end-to-end process for effective recycling of Covid-19 plastic waste to produce value-added plastic products ensuring decontamination of Covid-19 plastic waste, focusing on the conversion of the plastic waste suitable for downstream processing and identification of potential stakeholders / markets for creating value for entire supply-chain.

In a proof-of-concept study, CSIR-NCL team successfully demonstrated the lab-scale manufacture of moulded automotive products from the decontaminated PPE plastic waste (at Niky Precision Engineers, Pune) by leveraging the existing recycling infrastructure available in Indian cities,” said a joint statement issued by RIL.

On successful pilot project, however, CSIR-NCL and RIL have now signed an memorandum of understanding (MoU) to scale up the production to pilot-scale, laying a path to take the concept to the national level.

A pilot scale of 100 kg in the Pune city area was successfully implemented by collaborating with Pune-based companies, viz. APPL Industries Ltd, SKYi Composites, Harsh Deep Agro Products, Urmila Polymers, Jai Hind Autotech Pvt. Ltd., who produced value-added products.

The feed material (PPE kits) was collected and decontaminated by Passco Environmental Solutions, a waste management company located in Pune. CSIR-NCL secured all regulatory approvals needed from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to complete this pilot trial.

For this breakthrough, however, the technical journey of CSIR-NCL, aided by RIL and CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIR-IIP) Dehradun, with funding from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), mainly involved converting the decontaminated PPE waste (comprising PPE suits/overalls) into an easily processable and upcycled agglomerated form (pellets or granules).

In the process, it was ensured that the polymer pellets show the right attributes necessary for successful conversion to produce non-food applications, including high-performance automotive components.

This pilot project can be implemented across India to build a sustainable circular “green” economy that can propel India’s growth in this relatively untapped sector and contribute towards India’s socio-environmental targets, the statement added.


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