Saturday, January 23, 2010

Making roads with recycled plastic

Making roads with recycled plastic
Two brothers have solved the problem of recycling plastic waste and in the process laid almost 1,000 km of lasting roads in Bangalore. They are Rasool Khan and Ahmed Khan — pioneers of ‘plastic’ roads
GAYATRI NAIR


Stung by protests to ban plastic, they hit upon the idea of recycling plastic and mixing it with bitumen to lay roads. Thanks to their enterprising spirit, they have so far laid almost 1,000 km of roads — Lalbagh Road, Cunningham Road, Old Madras Road and many others — in the city with recycled plastic. They are brothers Rasool Khan and Ahmed Khan.
RESEARCH & IMPLEMENT
Rasool, the director of K K Plastic Waste Management Private Limited, tells Bangalore Mirror how the brothers came up with the idea of recycling plastic for roads: "In 1996, there were demands for a ban on plastic. Our entire livelihood depended on plastic as we manufacture plastic bags for our company called K K Polyflex. We also had about 100-odd employees working with us. So we thought of researching on alternate uses of plastic."
During their research the Khans realised that plastic could be used along with bitumen to make roads. After reading up about Bangalore roads, they thought of laying such roads in the city. In 1996, Rasool (59) made the first trial use of plastic with bitumen. He successfully used the bitumen-plastic mixture to fill about 100-200 potholes on Rajalakshmi Nursing Home Road in Jayanagar.
He then asked his son Amjad Khan, who was then studying chemical engineering at RV College of Engineering, to take this up as a research project and also funded it. After two years of research work, Amjad concluded that it was feasible to use bitumen-plastic in laying roads. Next, they needed the approval from experts in highway Engineering. Highway engineering professors Justo and Vir Raghavan from the Bangalore University took special interest in the idea and studied it. Now, they had to get the approval of Central Road Research Institute, Delhi.
After a two-year they got the green signal from CRRI. Armed with approvals from all quarters, the brothers met the then Karnataka CM S M Krishna. Thanks to the CM's encouragement, the Khans laid their first plastic waste road in front of Rajarajeshwarinagar front gate in 2002.
In the first year of their road work, they were paid Rs 11 lakh by the government. "In 2003-04 we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the BBMP to lay 250 km of roads," says Rasool.
Some of the roads they have laid include Millers Road, Cunningham Road, Old Madras Road, J C Road, Lalbagh Road, almost all roads in Jayanagar, and Mysore Road till Kanakpura Junction.
FROM WASTE TO ROAD
The company gets approximately five tons of plastic waste every day. It buys plastic waste at Rs 6 per kg from apartments, schools, ITC factory, and pourakarmikas. Rasool says, "We also have our own auto and lorry that picks up plastic waste strewn around the city."
The plastic waste thus collected is cleaned and put in a shredder. The shredded bits are then stored in bags for six to seven days to drain out the moisture in them. The shredded plastic is then taken to a hot mixing plant located on the city outskirts, where it is mixed with bitumen to make roads. The bitumen-plastic mix is called K K Poly Blend.
Ahmed Khan (61), an alumni of St Joseph's College of Commerce, says, "Normally the life of a road is about three years. But with K K Poly Blend it increases to about six to seven years. This is because the melting point of bitumen is about 60 to 70 degrees where as plastic's melting point is about 130 to 140 degrees. Moreover, Bangalore generates 5,000 tonnes of solid waste every day, out of which at least 50 tonnes is plastic. If all that plastic waste is used the remaining solid waste can be used to make organic manure."
He reasons, "Every day India produces 1,23,000 tonnes of waste, out of which about 2000 tonnes is plastic. If we can use all that plastic, the plastic waste problem can be solved."
Their plastic road concept has even attracted attention from the Burmese government and entities in Italy.
THE MAKING OF ‘PLASTIC’ ROADS

• K K Plastic Waste Management Private Limited buys and collects about 5 five tons of plastic waste every day

• The plastic waste is cleaned and shred into bits

• The bits are dried for six to seven days

• The shredded plastic is then taken to a hot mixing plant on the city outskirts, where it is mixed with bitumen to make roads

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