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Shimla: Buoyed by the successful use of plastic waste to build three stretches of road, the Himachal Pradesh government

will now use all the plastic waste it collected during a drive last month for road surfacing. During the weeklong 'Polythene Hatao, Paryavaran Bachao (remove polythene, save environment)' campaign carried out across the state, about 1,381 quintals of waste was collected, a government spokesperson said. "The entire plastic waste (1,381 quintals) would be used for laying plastic-bitumen mix roads in the state. This waste would be sufficient to tar a stretch of 138 km," the spokesperson said. The Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board in collaboration with the Public Works Department (PWD) has built three road stretches on a pilot basis by using shredded plastic waste on the outskirts of Shimla. The waste plastic such as carry bags, disposable cups and laminated plastics like pouches of chips, pan masala, aluminium foil and packaging material used for biscuits, chocolates, and milk and grocery items was used in surfacing roads. "The results have been good in the past four months as there has been no stripping or any other major damage to the roads laid by using plastic-asphalt mix. Of course, the plastic blend not only helps lowering the cost of tarring but also enhances the durability of roads because of higher binding strength of plastic," PWD superintending engineer Naresh Sharma said. Explaining the rationale for using the waste plastic in road construction, he said if plastic waste could be mixed up to 15 per cent, this would lead to saving of equivalent quantity of asphalt, reducing the overall construction cost. "The plastic waste replaces 10 to 15 per cent of the bitumen and thus saves approximately Rs 35,000 to Rs 45,000 per km of a road stretch," Sharma added. Himachal Pradesh imposed on October 2, 2009, a ban on the production, storage, use, sale and distribution of all types of polythene bags made of non-biodegradable materials. The government is also planning to include all plastic materials like disposable plates, cups and glasses in the ambit of the ban. The ban on use of coloured polythene bags manufactured from recycled plastic was initially imposed on January 1, 1999. Later in 2004, the ban was imposed under Section 7(h) of the State NonBiodegradable Garbage (Control) Rules on the use of small polythene bags having thickness less than 70 microns and size less than 18"x12". But last year a total ban was imposed on the use of polythene bags of all types and sizes. Before the partial implementation of the ban in 2004, polythene pollution was a major problem in the state. During the monsoon, the rainwater brought along heaps of polythene bags and other nonbiodegradable material that choked most drains.