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"The environmental problems are raising not so much because plastics are bad but in the absence of an effective disposal and recycling mechanism."

IndianOil Moves towards Restoring Environment

January 2020
The single use of plastic has created numerous hazardous issues and in the current scenario, executing wise ways to curb the single use of plastic is the need of the hour. In an ardent effort to restore the environment, IndianOil Corporation Limited has flagged off novel ways to neutralise plastic and work towards achieving plastic neutrality. IndianOil shares with us the factors that have been instrumental while initiating the innovative campaigns and challenges faced while conceptualising the novel initiatives.

By Namrata Nikale Tanna, Editorial Manager, Oil Asia Publication.

  1. OAJ: What have been the factors for IndianOil to flag off four innovative initiatives to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle plastics?

  2. IndianOil: Plastics have become an integral part of life in today’s world, and have in fact helped make human life easier. The environmental problems are raising not so much because plastics are bad but in the absence of an effective disposal and recycling mechanism. Consequently, we find plastics finding their way into landfills, clogging drains or floating in water bodies, causing serious environmental damage.

    While PET bottles and other containers, made with reusable plastic are recyclable, single-use plastic such as polythene bags poses a serious environmental challenge, IndianOil has, therefore, launched several innovative schemes to reduce the burden of ever-increasing plastic waste by using them as material for building roads and making soluble polybags for bitumen filling.

  3. OAJ: According to a survey, India generates 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, of which 40 percent remains uncollected and 43 per cent is used for packaging, most of which is single-use, do you think boycotting single-use of plastic is the need of the hour?

  4. IndianOil: Our endeavour has always been to promote the responsible reuse of single-use plastic. While we understand that it is not feasible to completely eliminate plastic usage, we encourage limiting the use of single-use plastic and its responsible reuse to avoid adding to the ever-increasing plastic waste.

  5. OAJ: Kindly brief us on single-use waste plastic based bituminous road and how is it better than the concrete roads?

  6. IndianOil: IndianOil's R&D Centre has conducted a study and evaluated the effect of shredded waste plastic on bituminous concrete. As per the lab tests, the waste plastic roads have the advantages of higher strength, increased durability, lesser rain-water seepage due to the presence of plastic in the aggregates, better binding/bonding of the mix and lesser stripping with fewer potholes.

    R&D has worked out various compositions of waste plastic inroads, to be incorporated in aggregates. 850 meters of the road outside IndianOil R&D Centre in Faridabad has been laid for test use at varying concentrations (1 per cent- 3 per cent) of single-use waste plastic which is by far the maximum percentage of waste plastic used for paving bituminous roads.

    For this purpose, about 16 MT of waste plastic from single-use carry bags/packaging film waste has been used. Performance of this road will be monitored by IndianOil R&D Centre in association with CSIR-CRRI, and also fine-tune the concentration of single-use plastic to be added.

    For this purpose, about 16 MT of waste plastic from single-use carry bags/packaging film waste has been used. Performance of this road will be monitored by IndianOil R&D Centre in association with CSIR-CRRI, and also fine-tune the concentration of single-use plastic to be added.

    The plastic road was inspected and test launched for use by Dr SSV Ramakumar, Director (R&D), IndianOil, on 2nd October 2019 at Faridabad.

  7. OAJ: Can you elaborate on the rest of the initiatives?

  8. IndianOil: Special Grade Crumb Rubber Modified Bitumen (CRMB55): IndianOil has designed a special grade of Bitumen, CRMB55, and using 2wt. per cent of waste (single-use) plastic material. The new grade has equivalent performance to the existing bitumen product CRMB 55 as demonstrated in the lab.

    Soluble Bitumen Polybags: Polybags for bitumen filling produced from 100 per cent single-use waste plastic, which is solubilised fully in the bitumen at the time of paving of roads. Bitumen is packed in two-layered specially designed polybags - one inner liner bag for filling and another outer (raffia) bag with handle for ease of handling. At the user's end, the outer bag is removed and bitumen along with the inner bags can be charged into the bitumen hot mix plant. During the bitumen melting process at the road construction site, the inner bag melts and completely homogenises with the bitumen, which can be further used in the same way as conventionally packed bitumen.

    Expression of Interest (EOI) for Procurement of Plastic Waste: In order to establish a robust supply chain of waste (single-use) plastic material for implementing the above initiatives on a regular basis and to develop a sustainable business model that comprises of various organised aggregators & NGOs, IndianOil has also released a National Expression of Interest (EOI) on 2nd October 2019, for assessing the market availability and willingness of parties/aggregators /organisations to supply different types of waste plastics in commercial quantities on a consistent basis.

    As a part of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and in a bid to achieve plastic neutrality, IndianOil has worked out these various options of using waste plastics, leading to value creation for different stakeholders in the waste plastic ecosystem.

  9. OAJ: What are the challenges that the IndianOil team faced while conceptualising and developing the mission?

  10. IndianOil: The idea of developing a bituminous road came with its own set of challenges and required IndianOil to carry out several tests to make a road with bituminous concrete mixed with single-use plastic waste. About 850-meters of the road outside IndianOil R&D Centre in Faridabad was chosen on an experimental basis for testing its strength and durability. The road was demarcated into three zones representing 1 percent, 2 percent and 3 percent concentration of waste plastic such as carry bags and packaging film waste, and will be monitored under the same conditions for two years.

    According to Central Road Research Institute specifications, the allowable percentage of waste plastic in bitumen is 0.8 percent. IndianOil, in partnership with CRRI, is experimenting whether this limit can be extended to 3 per cent.

    Incorporation of 3 percent of waste plastic is estimated to save ` 2 lakh per km in road construction as compared to currently used premium quality bitumen. The input cost will be reduced massively if indigenous waste plastic is used instead of imported virgin polymers. If the experiment is successful, IndianOil will approach the Road Transport Ministry to make it mandatory for every bitumen aggregator to use waste plastic to the scientifically proven percentage.

    IndianOil is also working on converting the single-use plastic waste into special grade bitumen that can be used for the construction of roads and highways. A pilot project has been conducted at Faridabad with the construction of a "single-use waste plastic" based bituminous road. IndianOil has also introduced soluble bitumen polybags for bitumen filling which, produced from 100 percent single-use waste plastic, which dissolve fully in the bitumen at the time of road paving.

    To achieve complete plastic neutrality, IndianOil is also planning to introduce bio-degradable and bio-compostable polymers in the next five years. We are also in the process of developing a technology that will help convert plastic waste to fuel.

  11. OAJ: Could you please elaborate on commencing awareness vans to popularise the Repurposed Used Cooking Oil (RUCO) and its benefits for the future?

  12. IndianOil: The RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil) initiative aims to generate awareness among people about the conversion of used cooking oil to bio-diesel. This would prevent the disposal of the oil in drains, which leads to environmental damage and health hazards.

    The RUCO campaign involves spreading awareness and educating people about the ill effects of used cooking oil and ways to dispose of it for converting it to biodiesel. The publicity vans will carry the poster messages across 100 cities to spread awareness.

    IndianOil, along with BPCL & HPCL, floated Expression of Interest (EOI) across 100 cities of India for sourcing bio-diesel produced from Used Cooking Oil (UCO). The EOI provides that the entrepreneurs setting up Biodiesel plants get remunerative price and assurance of complete offtake of production by the oil companies. As on date, Letters of Intent for setting up six such bio-diesel plants in the states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan with an aggregate annual capacity of 102 TMTPA have been issued.

    The consumption of Used Cooking Oil (UCO), during repeated frying, several properties of the cooking oil are altered and Total Polar Compounds (TPC) is formed, which pose adverse health effects. The toxicity of these compounds is associated with several diseases such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, liver diseases, etc. Therefore, it is essential to monitor the quality of the vegetable oils during frying. Also, disposal of UCO in drains causes ecological damage and is an environmental concern.

    In order to safeguard consumer health, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has fixed a limit for Total Polar Compounds at 25 per cent, beyond which the vegetable oil shall not be used for cooking. Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO), launched by FSSAI, provides an ecosystem that will enable the collection and conversion of UCO to bio-diesel.

    Consumers can give their used cooking oil to authorised aggregators who will, in turn, give it to the bio-diesel manufactures for production of bio-diesel which can then be blended with diesel. The details of the RUCO oil aggregators are available at website https://fssai.gov.in/ruco/collection-point.php

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