The Ecobrick Project
The Problem ~ Burning Plastic
The sad and horrible fact is that most of the 1.3 billion people in India are all burning their plastic trash in open fires. A multitude of toxic chemicals are released when plastics burn. Dioxins and furans, in particular, are known to be the most deadly chemicals on earth, even more deadly than radioactive waste. They are mutagenic. Even the most minute amount of exposure will permanently mutate your genes, and the genes of all of your future offspring. Dioxins are the chemicals found in Agent Orange, which was used during the Vietnam war.
The Solution ~ Ecobricks
The basic idea is to collect all the soft plastic waste and stuff it into plastic water bottles. Those bottles are then used as a building bricks. Held together by mud, ecobricks can be used to build agricultural water storage tanks, rain shelters, benches, bus stands and retaining walls. Click here to find out more about this low tech and low cost solution.
Every village has someone who’s business is to collect hard plastics and send them to Delhi for recycling. Recycling is an incredibly toxic process which creates a plastic which is much less stable, and thus much more volatile, than it’s original, but that is a far greater problem than we can tackle at this time.
SHRI’s Pilot Project
SHRI’s goal is to create & implement a two year pilot project that will solve the growing plastic waste disposal crisis in our village. We have a three point plan of action that involves public health education, plastic collection and safe ecobrick construction.
SHRI has organized a coalition of local health practitioners, governmental officials, school administrators and community leaders. Despite this support we have a long road ahead. The local villagers don’t easily understand how burning trash can affect their health. We must be gently persistent in our educational efforts. Some listen to our words and then just continue to burn their trash. However, we are slowly making progress. Each day, more and more people get the message that burning plastic is harmful and that there is an easy solution.
Our team has been going house to house speaking with residents as well as giving educational presentations in schools. We have opened two centrally located ecobrick collection and manufacturing centers. In one day, three local women can process over three kilograms of soft plastic, making thirty usable ecobricks! This is the equivalent of 2250 chip bags that are not burned! We already have building projects lined up, such as retaining walls and school benches which will utilize over 3,000 ecobricks. The successful implementation of this pilot project could be an example for all of India.