By Dashmeet Kaur
As I write this article, I’m simultaneously hogging on a packet of chips and savouring the taste of cold drink that I’d hidden for quite some time from the hawk’s eyes, alias, my brother. Had it not been preserved in plastic, it surely would be gobbled down by him *widens eyes*.
Dear plastic, you’ve made lives easier and Mr. Rajagopalan Vasudevan, Professor of Chemistry at Thiagarajar College of Engineering at Madhurai sure knows how to utilise the excessive plastic waste in ways that would solve many problems.
Sporting a prominent namam on his forehead, he could quite easily be mistaken for a Sanskrit pundit. He seems to be as much at tranquility when he assesses the chemicals in his laboratory, holding beakers over flames, as under a Peepal tree when he converses with his students in recess, enlightening them all about the Bhagavad Gita.
When he heard a doctor on a certain TV programme mistakenly stating that plastic “dissolved” in water bodies and caused pollution, this set the Plastic man’s grey cells to work and he took up the challenge to tame this baddie.
Results in the laboratory of mixing waste plastic with heated bitumen and coating the mixture over stone proved that it was possible to implement the use of plastic waste. In 2002, plastic waste was used to construct a road inside the college premises and till date this stretch of road is going strong. Later in 2006, the Thiagrajar College of Engineering received the patent for this technology and there was no looking back.
Plastic waste has been a troublesome problem for years and while his technology was argued, Dr. Vasudevan started receiving offers from private companies from across the world to vend the patent. “But I think it is my duty to serve my country first and therefore, I gave it free to the Indian Government.” What he laments is the leisurely progress, “the plastic binding with bitumen is an ideal option for roads that bear the brunt of torrential rains.” He also emphasizes on the need to segregate plastic waste to avoid accumulation of litter and make India a greener and cleaner place.
There are many woohs that gives this technology that uses waste plastic for road constructions a green flag:
- The process is easy and it doesn’t need any new machinery from the Government; the green Gandhi papers can relax for a while longer.
- The wear and tear of the roads has decreased to a large extent.
- The road construction procedures are extremely eco-friendly with no toxic gases being released.
- Not only are the dangerous plastics being used up for a good cause, but it also allows roads to be built quickly.
- The maintenance cost is also lower as compared to traditional roads.
- Also these roads are hollow, making it much easier to install cables and utility pipelines below the surface.
“It serves the twin purposes of increasing quality of roads and also solves the problem of plastic disposal. The vision should be to eventually replace all existing roads and lay every new road with this technology,” says the professor. He’s a man with a mission whose tenacious nature had given way to an undoubtedly eco-friendly invention which offers a sizeable lesson for all municipal institutions. He was also invited on the Indian television talk show, Satyamev Jayate, to throw light on this very under-rated topic.
Such inventions provide solutions to many problems. Here‘s another one.
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.