IIT Kharagpur researchers have come up with a set of recommendations for managing solid waste, including biomedical and plastic waste, causing environmental problems during COVID-19 pandemic situation. A recent study by the researchers has led to the formulation of the recommendations which include adoption of “eco-friendly bioplastics and biodegradable materials with higher recyclability”, the institute said in a statement on Saturday.
“While reduced economic activities due to COVID-19 have certainly made air and water cleaner as per many reports, change in the dynamics of plastic, food, and biomedical waste generation has however stirred the woes of solid waste management,” the statement said. The researchers have explored the challenges faced by the solid waste management sector during the pandemic and the underlying opportunities to fill existing loopholes in the system, it said.
The study, led by Professor Brajesh Kumar Dubey of IIT Kharagpur’s Department of Civil Engineering, emphasised on sustainable technologies and development of green business models by analysing economic prospects in the post-pandemic world.
“It should be well understood that the mess created by the COVID-19 crisis should not be solved at the expense of solving the longer-term issue of the climate crisis. The post-COVID-19 world would need a systems-level approach on a global scale to address the issue of solid waste management and protect our environment with low carbon footprint,” Dubey was quoted as saying in the statement.
The study recommends the adoption of new technologies in solid waste management using “socially viable designs scoring high on environmental and economic feasibility”, the professor said. “Incentive policy could be introduced for adopting eco-friendly bioplastics, biodegradable materials with higher recyclability. This would enable the standardisation of plastic products and packaging leading to economic recycling models,” he said. Artificial Intelligence-powered sustainable technologies can be deployed to manage efficient sorting and recycling of waste. This shall be further supported by means of “refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle” mantra of the circular economy, he said.