We cannot deny the fact that plastic usage in India is swelling out. The use of plastics has grown so much that plastics are actually laminating the earth. The worthless odds and ends of plastic waste generation, have made it very difficult for the environment to recycle waste, posing a great threat to humanity itself.
Plastic waste has already taken a shape of debris monster
To conquer this monster, Prof. Rajagopalan Vasudevan, pioneered his innovative technology and became a savior of the World. This superhero has the power of mutating one man’s trash into another man’s treasure. The story of India’s plastic man starts from here.
Making of Plastic Man of India
The ‘Plastic Man of India’ is a 73- year old retired chemistry professor from the Thiagarajar Engineering College in Madurai. He devised a ground-breaking method of reusing plastic waste by building more durable roads out of it. It was a waste management cum development discovery.
This enterprising technique of Plastic Man of India became a chief asset to rural India, where roads were not constructed out of brick and mortar. In rural areas, plastic waste was used to make roads, which were durable and cost-effective. He had a taste for waste and plastic waste management much easier.
Events that made Prof Vasudevan to clampdown on plastic residue
Prof. R Vasudevan, when one evening he saw a doctor on a TV Program citing that the plastic ‘dissolved’ in water bodies causes pollution, was moved to do something about this plastic waste.
Professor Vasudevan thought over it and wondered, that plastic is a product of petroleum, an organic compound and this theory of the doctor had to be false. Since it was an organic compound it had to be biodegradable.
At the same time, there were serious talks about banning plastics all over the country and finding solutions to the waste plastic strewn all over. Realizing the great danger that plastics waste possesses, Prof R Vasudevan decided to experiment with waste plastics and see if he could find a solution.
The story of Plastic Man of India
While experimenting with waste plastics, Prof R Vasudevan came up with the idea of turning plastic litter into paved roads. His ingenious approach became a boon to the world, and India of course, where everyone was fighting the dangers of plastic waste accumulation.
India’s Plastic Man, just like India’s Pad Man, did a fabulous job. By Prof R Vasudevan’s technique, we will not only get rid of plastic waste but also provide water resistance and longevity to roads in rural areas. If you watch it closely, Prof Vasudevan has solved two problems – plastic waste management and rural road development.
Plastic tar technology for road construction
Prof. R Vasudevan is executing something fantastic by cutting down the plastic and assuredly the change will be drastic. But the interesting part is the way he converts plastic waste into water-resistant roads.
The plastic wastes like plastic carry-bags, plastic disposals, packets of potato chips, biscuits, etc. which are generated in large quantities on a daily basis, are first shredded to an appropriate size using a shredding machine.
Further, the aggregate mixture is heated at 170 degree Celsius with shredded plastic and bitumen (coal). The molten plastic mixture is used to coat stones with thin films and then added to molten tar. Since both plastic and tar are petroleum products, they bind well.
Once the stone-tar mix is ready, it is laid on the roads and it's done! The very first road, which Prof R Vasudevan constructed using this technology was inside the premises of his college, as a part of his research. As the paved road served the commuters, Plastic Man of India became confident about his findings.
Achievements of Prof Vasudevan
One of the biggest achievements of Prof Vasudevan was that he became the apple of the eye in the construction industry. His frugal innovation holds a patent, but often licenses it for free, so that it benefits the masses.
Prof Vasudevan has also given his innovation to the Indian Government for free so that they recycle plastic waste and develop rural India simultaneously. Prof Vasudevan is also the man behind the laying down more than 5,000 km worth of plastic roads in at least 11 states across the country.
Another of Prof Vasudevan’s personal achievements is the use of his patented technique in many foreign countries, like in the Netherlands. Prof Vasudevan has received many awards, and he is also a recipient of India’s fourth highest civilian honor, Padma Shri, in 2018.
With so much on his list, Prof Vasudevan, the Plastic Man of India, is a humble human being. He is one amongst the many superheroes that India has, like Sindhutai Sapkal and Arunachalam Murunganantham.
Let us hope that plastic waste generation gets controlled through his technique and we see many more India Man in the future.