The government mandated to mix five to eight percent of plastic waste with bitumen for road construction in 2015.
Plastic suppliers for road construction say that they have not been contacted even after the Karnataka State Pollution Board Control (KSPCB) has issued the order for mandatory use of plastic. The Bruhath Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Urban Development Department say that they are continuously in contact with the plastic-suppliers.
However, Ahmed Khan, Managing Director, K K Plastic Waste Management Ltd. Said, “The government is not interested.” The organisation has worked with BBMP for the construction of 2000 kms of road using 8000 tons of plastic but the supply of plastic for the road is minimal. He added that the plastic industry is not able to earn proper revenue because the government is not using plastic for the roads. For alternate revenue, the K K Plastic Waste Management Ltd was involved in making plastic bags which has also stopped due to the ban on single-use plastic.
Mixing plastic with bitumen reduces the cost of construction by five to eight percent because plastic replaces five to eight percent of bitumen, explained Vijaya Kumar, President of Karnataka State Polymer Association. He said that plastic also does not allow water to seep inside the roads, thus improving their durability. G. Govardhan, Trustee, Bangalore Environment Trust saw the roads using plastic being tested for the first time in 2002. He said, “Since plastic has a longer durability, use of plastic in roads also increases the life of roads.”
Nandeesha J R, Superintendent Engineer, Rajarajeshwari Nagar zone, BBMP said “No special tenders are released for using plastic in roads.” He added that those tenders are included in the road construction tender, after which the plastic suppliers are contacted. “The suppliers are contacted on the basis of plastic waste available,” said Mr. Nandeesha. He added that the engineers are not responsible for the amount of plastic to be supplied; it is entirely on the contractors.
“I had to dismantle my industry,” said Ahmed Khan. He said that he has not been contacted for supplying plastic. The only authorities that contact him are the airport authorities for repair work. He further said that due to that the supply has dropped to just five tones in a month, in total. The plastic that is used in road construction requires heavy processing and takes time and money to undergo recycling. “We add quality to the plastic which is a waste,” said Ahmed. According to him, by making roads with plastic, the plastic that is abandoned or thrown away can be put to better use.
The official order of the Karnataka government states that the any department constructing roads is supposed to use plastic for it. Some of these are the Urban Development Department, BBMP, Directorate of Municipal Administration, National Highway Authority, and State Highway Authority. Moreover the Karnataka Public Works Department (KPWD), Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Limited (KRIDL), Karnataka State Highways Improvement Project (KSHIP) also has a mandate to use plastic in road construction.