Plastic Industry – Toxic Concerns

Malegaon’s booming illegal plastic industry causes illness and injury amongst its workers. Malegaon is well-known for its flourishing power loom industry. But since several years, the city also hosts a rapidly growing plastic sector. Numerous factories have been set up in the outskirts of the city, the majority of them illegally. These factories gather plastic waste and melt it in order to make plastic pipes. These plastic pipes are cheaper than the usual PVC pipes, and the demand for them have grown high. The industry provides jobs to approximately 25,000 people, but indirectly provides livelihood opportunities to a total population of 100,000 people involved in the recycling process. “Local officials have been quite supportive to the plastic industry. They see it as a source of employment and as a way to resolve the problem of waste management. They don’t want to see the hazardous side of this industry,” explained Anand, our Community Correspondent in Malegaon. Indeed, burning plastic releases highly toxic fumes that have a very harmful impact on workers’ health. A large — but totally undocumented — number of them have developed various types of cancers. Moreover, labourers are working in a total absence of physical, legal, or monetary protection, and accidents are frequent. Be it disease or accidents, compensation is not offered to the workers. “The workers in the plastic industry are really exploited. Their health is seriously at risk. I hope that my video will make people aware of what is actually going on there, and what plastic recycling involves,” stated Anand.

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