A Delhi based startup has found an innovative solution to plastic waste disposal. For the past two years Shayna EcoUnified India Pvt. Ltd has been using plastic waste to make colourful floor tiles.
Paras Saluja, the founder of Shayna EcoUnified India Pvt. Ltd believes that plastic is one of the finest inventions of this century. “I see people complaining about plastics on social media and expressing their concerns on climate change, but the sad part you know what is? These people have never taken a step to help the environment.”
Inspiration From Vietnam
In 2015 when Paras visited Everest Base Camp he noticed the large plastic dump on the corners of the road. The tourists had littered mostly the waste. “After I returned from the camp, the sight of plastic waste left by the enthusiast travellers, bothered me,” says Paras.
However, a commerce graduate did not have much idea in the world of plastics. But when he visited Vietnam, he found an innovative idea to deal with plastics. “We all know Vietnam is an economically weaker country. However, the way they keep their cities clean despite having scores of street markets amazed me,” Paras recalls.
However, recycling plastics to create a new product wasn’t an easy task. The first challenge Paras faced was to come up with a recycled product that can last at least five years.
“These days, the products made of recycled plastics such as bottles, chair, and tables, have a life expectancy of five years. I had to make a product out of recycled plastics which can have a life span of more than five years, or else why will anyone invest in it?” Paras said.
Paras met with government officials and scientists at the National Physical Laboratory to get an insight about plastics/polymers. Incidentally, NPL was working on a technology that could turn plastics into tiles. Fascinated with the technology, Paras invested in the Research and Development and also took rights to manufacture the tiles for his company Shayna EcoUnified.
How Are Plastic Tiles Made?
“There are seven types of polymers present in this world. However, we generally use two to three types of polymers to make tiles,” Paras explains.
High-density polyethene (HDPE), Polypropylene (PP), and sometimes Low-density Polyethylene (LDPE). “We mix 15 per cent of fillers while recycling the plastics, to make it more tensile and durable,” Paras says.
Once they receive used plastic waste from vendors (Kabadi walas), the plastic is crushed, washed, mixed with fillers and then compressed to make tiles at the production unit based in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. Currently, Paras is closely working with three major street vendors in Delhi NCR area for raw materials. In a day around 10,000 paver tiles and 4,500 square tiles are manufactured. A kg of plastic waste makes 1 sq ft of tiles which comprises of 4 plastic paver tiles.
“All our tiles are anti-static, antimicrobial, antibacterial with a heating capacity up to 140-degree Celsius and can be cooled down to -25 degree Celsius,” Paras adds. As of now, the tiles with a load-bearing capacity of 20 tonnes and 40 tonnes are manufactured. Paras claims that their plastic tiles’ can last up to a minimum of 50 years.
Paras takes pride while talking about The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation’s (GHMC) dog park, company’s first bigscale government project undertaken in 2018.
Inside the park, the bright blue-green-pink tiles on the pavement quickly draw bypassers’ attention, and word of appreciation will spurt out after knowing that these tiles were made out of plastic waste.
Till now, Paras has provided tiles to L’Oréal International, Tata Motors – Jamshedpur, and has also won the tender from Municipal Corporation in Gurugram.
Many corporate companies have reached out to the Shayna EcoUnified for EPR and CSR activities. In this case, the concerned company will provide the raw material i.e plastics, and Shayna EcoUnified will make tiles. As of now, Shayna EcoUnified have turned 340 tonnes of waste plastics into colourful plastic tiles.
Even though Paras receives appreciation for the innovative idea, he is stunned by the lack of awareness that people have about plastics.
He says that people feel cheap using recycled plastic products. “A person with a house of two crores will go for expensive Italian marbles rather than investing on plastic tiles,” says Paras.
But Paras has plans for such high-end customers. In future, he wishes to manufacture designer wall tiles made of plastics which can match the quality of expensive tiles but are made out of plastics.
According to Paras, people should know the benefits of recycled plastic products. He says that government support is a requisite to embolden the recycled plastic products market.
On asking about the future plans, Paras told that he wishes to conduct an awareness campaign across country on plastic with the help of the government. “Majority of the population are unaware that PET polymer can be recyclable, they believe that it is single-use plastic,” Paras mentions.