Recycling has practically become a household term with school children across the country being educated about the need to recycle, conserve and preserve. The same can be said for Sagolband Sadokpam Leikai in Imphal district (west) of Manipur, where an effective recycling programme is being spearheaded by Sadokpam Gunakanta (65 years).
Knowing that plastics are a threat to the eco-system as they negatively impact the natural environment and create problems for plants, wildlife and even human population, Gunakanta who is an electrical engineer from the Government Polytechnic, Manipur has been determined to make his district a better place to live.
Earlier, for over 30 years he had served an Assistant Engineer in the Electricity Department. Thereafter, he founded the S. J. Plastic Industries in early 1990s, and since then he has been the driving force behind the effective recycling process of plastic waste in his area.
A father of three children, Gunakanta runs the small enterprise, with the help of his son who helps him in the daily operations at the recycling plant.
The small set up has certainly come a long way. They have been recycling plastic waste collected from the city for 20 years. Initially, the waste collected was sent to Guwahati and Delhi for recycling. However, in 2010, new machines were procured that could build pipes and other household items from plastic waste.
Currently, as many as 120 types of plastics have been identified in Manipur alone. While the recyclable ones are recycled, the non-recyclable ones are still sent to Delhi and Guwahati after a compression process, the set-up operating like clock-work. With only 30 persons required to man the entire plant at any given time, there is almost zero attrition as all employees manage their leaves in cohesion!
Every day about 20,000 kilograms of waste is collected. Multiple small enterprises are utilized to segregate waste from across the city; and paid 8 rupees for each kilogram. Out of the 120 types of plastic collected, almost 30 are recycled in Manipur. The set-up employs many migrant and local workers throughout the plastic collection process.
Considering that use of plastic has increased by leaps and bounds across the country, Gunakanta is a staunch proponent of Recycling of Waste. “Plastics are recyclable! We need to make conscious efforts to recycle such waste so they can be used for other purposes, instead of allowing them to pollute our water bodies,” he said.