World Sustainability Day: IIT Madras launches 'Punch the Plastic' campaign

On World Sustainability Day, celebrated on the fourth Wednesday of October every year, IIT Madras has launched the ‘Punch the Plastic’ campaign.

The campaign looks for a new method to collect clean and dry plastic which is considered non-recyclable (such as food packaging) and then send them for recycling options such as pyrolysis.

IIT Madras students, faculty and staff have formed a ‘Sustainable Campus Collective’ and they are trying to raise awareness among residents on waste segregation, and minimising water and energy usage.

At the launch on Tuesday, Professor Ligy Philip elaborated about institute initiatives in wastewater recycling and a proposed bio-methnation plant for food waste.

Professor Indumathi Nambi Faculty Advisor, Sustainable Campus Collective, IIT Madras, said, “The Sustainability Drive aims at making IIT Madras a truly sustainable campus in three aspects - zero waste campus, low carbon and low water footprint.”

“The drive takes into its fold hostels, academic zones, residential zones, places of worship, shops and schools. It encourages all students, staff, faculty, residents, school kids, supporting contract workers to voluntarily participate and make it successful,” she added.

1. Punch the Plastic drive: Food packaging plastic such as from food delivery companies and small snack packets are usually deemed nonrecyclable as they are dirty and mixed with organic waste. They end up in water bodies or dumpsters most of the times.Two models of a simple hook device have been designed by IIT Madras students to collect the plastic packaging which are clean and dry and send them for recycling options such as pyrolysis.

2. Monkey-proof food waste dustbin hackathon: The Carbon Zero Challenge 2022 is set to sponsor the winner of a hackathon which will help come up with a larger, robust, user-friendly dustbin model for wet and dry waste that will also keep waste monkey-free.

Since IIT Madras has a significant monkey population which often forages for food in dustbins and creates waste management problems, several such models have come up before. But there is still scope for a better.

3. Sustainability champions contest: A sustainability contest will be held to select the sustainability champions among the residential, academic and hostel zone and also among the vendors and service providers in the campus.

This is being done to raise awareness among all campus residents. Green ratings will be used to judge the participants by doing a water, energy, waste and hygiene audit.

The champions will be awarded with a trophy during the convocation.

To expand their reach, IIT Madras also plans to host contests across schools, hostels, and academic and residential zones which can encourage residents to live sustainably by internalizing and implementing the concept in their everyday lives.

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