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Innovation in Recycling Technology

Plastics arouse passions. The technos say plastics are omnipotent; that man's future will be fully served by its miracles. The greens say, plastics have no merits whatsoever and must be un-invented. Amidst slogans of "ban plastics" and "use plastics with care", the debate rages. The plastic hazard caused due to non judicial usage of plastic polybags and their subsequent disposal into water bodies, land and burning results in the gradual loss of the existing ecological balance and causes related health hazards . Plastic recycling is an alternative method to prevent plastic from entering our environment and thus reducing the menace .

Centre for Environment Education (CEE) has been awarded the ‘Plasticon 2005 Award' on 1st October 2005 in Mumbai by the PlastIndia Foundation in the category of ‘Innovation in Recycling Technology' for its innovation of a ‘Polyloom' . The polyloom is a plastic weaving handloom that helps reuse and recycling of discarded plastic bags (polybags).

The concept of ‘polyloom' has been popularized by CEE's Waste Management Initiative as part of its mandate to address the reuse and recycling of dry waste from domestic garbage. Under this initiative, CEE has established an ‘Ecofriendly Reuse and Recycling Unit' (CEE-ERU) especially for recycling of paper scraps and plastic carry bags. In this unit, paper scrap is recycled by the hand-made paper making method while polybags are reused through the polybags weaving method.

The plastic weaving concept is based on the fact that plastic bags which are thin and flimsy (be it 20µ or less) have an average life time of 2 to 3 hours after which they are discarded. They end up in gutters, dumpsites or on mountain sides and even in the stomachs of animals; they are responsible for clogging, choking, flooding, asphyxiation, landslides, death and destruction. Instead, if they are collected, even from roads, they can be washed, cleaned, dried, cut into strips and woven into the basic plastic textile fabric, which can then be stitched into various products like mats, folders, hand bags and purses. In this manner, both the plastic and paper waste becomes more manageable and less destructive.

The first CEE-ERU was first established in Coorg, Karnataka and subsequently, through various CEE offices, it has also been established in Ahmedabad, Coimbatore , Delhi , Goa , Patna and Tirupathi. Today, the concept has been taken up by many women's self-help groups who gather raw material either by door to door collection or by buying it from rag pickers. This provides them livelihood while taking the plastic carry bags away from the environment.

To address the dry recyclables wastes i.e paper and polybags, which are a major problem in Coorg, Centre for Environment Education (CEE) setup a hand made paper making unit and a plastic weaving loom. This unit together was called CEE's Ecological Reuse and Recycling Unit (CEE-ERU). This unit has been functioning for over five years and has been providing employment for the rural women in Coorg.

As an alternative mode to mere disposal for used polybags generated in this district, a novel sustainable method helps in reusing discarded polybags in the form of woven products, which are more durable, and eco friendly. This prevents the poly bags from polluting our environment. A concept popularized by CEE through its networks of offices & various training programmes, the Waste polybags are now regularly collected from schools through the ecoclubs, houses, through waste retrievers and SHGs. These polybags are washed, dried, cut into strips and woven in handlooms to make attractive bags, mats, folders, pencil cases, wall charts, curtains for windows and doors etc.


•  These woven products can be used for longer period and are durable.
•  This novel method of polybag weaving prevents environmental pollution.
•  While collecting used carry bags and selling these products, messages are given to avoid the environmental hazards of disposing these in our environment
The products are sold through various exhibitions and melas, CEE offices and its marketing outlet at the Coorg & Ahmedabad Units.


•  Green loom (Multi Activity Loom) comprising a set of 48” width looms + warping (spooling) machine + 2 Charkas, bobbin stand, heeled stand, khargosh and wooden plank.
•  Shed of 100 sqft covered
•  Raw material– cotton thread, liner cloth and plastic carry bags collected from our environment.
•  Human power to do the weaving
•  Cleaning and drying of waste carry bags (Vats, Tanks, tubs, pipes)
•  Sewing Machine and accessories.


The Process

Collections of discarded “plastic carry bags/poly bags” from houses, roadsides, schools, colleges, hostels etc

Washing with soap water and drying
Plastic Polybags cut into strips
Thread taken from Charka

Reel to be Arranged in Bobbin stand

Thread rolled to Warping Machine from Bobbin stand

Thread set to loom from warping Machine

Weaving to produce plastic woven fabric with different designs

Tailoring and finishing to make different products of different types of Mats, Awnings, Bags, Files, Pencil Case, etc

Marketing the products and Training and creating more employment opportunities

•  The product is designed keeping in view with the present trend of the market. Although made out of recycled plastic, the hygiene aspect along with aesthetic and utility aspects is always taken into consideration while preparing the final product for marketing. (Aesthetic Value)
•  Gandhiji's Charkha, a user and environment friendly technology is continuing to provide employment opportunities to less fortunate. Electricity is not required for setting up the loom, which helps it to be integrated with other electricity dependent activities to fully utilize the services of the workers during power shutdowns and periods of no electricity in the rural areas. (Energy Conservation)
•  Creation of new business opportunities with minimal investments and space requirement. Machinery is easily transportable and easy to assemble. Addressing the growing urban menace it has led to merging of rural technology and to curb the ever-increasing problem of plastics being unthinking dumped in our environment (Business Opportunity)
•  The new technology has led to increase job opportunities among women due to its easy & user friendly process. (Functional Opportunity )
•  This process, which helps in diverting the plastics away from the landfill, prevents environmental degradation and leads to employment opportunities. The product is also environmentally safe and can be used for over five years. It can be used regularly in any location and helps in removing lakhs of such unwanted plastic carry bags from our environment. This leads to cleaner & greener environment. (Cost Benefits)

•  Seminar kit bags and folders
•  Double Cot Mat
•  Single Cot Mat
•  Dining Mat
•  Small/Yoga mat
•  Box Type Market Bag
•  Fancy Market Bag
•  Shoulder Bag
•  Fancy Jhola Bag (Big/Small)
•  Tiffin Carrier Bag
•  Puja Bag with stick handle
•  Hand Purse
•  Dining Set
•  Mobile Case
•  CD Case
•  Pencil Case
•  Travelers Bag
•  Cloth Market Bag
•  Traveler's kit bag
•  Jhola Bag (Big/Medium)
•  Fancy long Handle Bag
•  Puja bag with rope handle
•  Fancy small shopper

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