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National Institute of Technology Karnataka

Plastic Recycling- I CARE, NITK

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Published on Dec 21, 2018

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need but not for every man's greed', - Mahatma Gandhi.

From the invention of Bakelite (world’s first fully synthetic plastic) in the year 1907, plastics have become an indispensable part of the industrial world. Once touted as the wonder material of the world, our illogical use and overconsumption has made plastics an enormous bane on our environment and ecosystem.

Most plastics are extensively used for their durability. However the catch is these plastics degrade at an excruciatingly slow pace. This also causes the problem of microplastics. Microplastics are minuscule pieces of plastics such as microfibers from clothing or created from degradation of larger plastic products. These microplastics easily enter the natural ecosystems and their foodchains and degrade them.

The United Nations Ocean Conference estimated that the oceans might contain more weight in plastics than fish by the year 2050. The Great Pacific garbage patch, also described as the Pacific trash vortex, is a gyre of marine debris in the central North Pacific Ocean. The patch is characterized by exceptionally high relative pelagic concentrations of plastic, chemical sludge and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre. Similar patches are present in Indian ocean and the Atlantic ocean.

Midway Atoll, a remote island in the USA, recieves significant amount of plastic debris from the Great Pacific garbage patch. The albatross population present in the island is dying due to unwitting ingestion of plastic debris washed up on the Midway coast. Thousands of seabirds and sea turtles, seals and other marine mammals are killed each year after ingesting plastic or getting entangled in it. Marine plastics especially microplastics have been found to have direct correlations with growth and spread of invasive marine population such as that of sea skaters (oceanic offshore insects). The ingested plastics debris often gets transferred through food chains and reach bigger animals including human beings.

One of the earliest and an effective method to deal with waste plastic disposal is recycling. I-Care is the philanthropic branch of Incident, the annual cultural fest of NITK, Surathkal. I-Care has several projects going on such as beach schooling for the local students of Surathkal and voluntary work at Lion’s special school and Make A Difference (MAD) home for orphans. In order to take a step towards a cleaner environment, student volunteers of I-Care take up clean-up drives along the NITK beach. The waste plastic obtained is recycled at our own campus to produce products like keychains, drawing clips,etc. This initiative is in line with the swatch bharat mission.

Even the smallest step of picking up garbage along the coast and putting it into a bin can go a long way in reducing marine plastic debris. The I-Care team truly hopes our humble efforts resonate with our fellow Indians and strives for a cleaner and a scenic coast line.

Music credits: Sappheiros- Lights

Key chain mould design credits: Harikrishna Dev 15ME134

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