InkWeek focus: Medha Tadpatrikar on turning plastic to fuel

Dr Medha Tadpatrikar, director, Rudra Environmental Solution, doesn’t believe that plastic, as a product, is itself bad. Plastic has its advantages. It has made life easier to a considerable degree. What is bad, however, is the waste it generates. For one thing, while we tend to throw away the discarded plastic, it never goes away. It stays either in the landfill or on the ocean. It was time to do something about it. This was the beginning of Rudra Environmental Solutions, which Tadpatrikar started with her business partner Shirish Phadtare — a company based out of Pune which works towards converting plastic into fuel.

14 Mar 2022 | By PrintWeek Team

Dr Medha Tadpatrikar of Rudra Environmental Solution

Dr Medha Tadpatrikar will speak on the importance of segregating plastic waste and the possibility of turning plastic into fuel on the last day of the InkWeek event organised by PrintWeek from 21 to 25 March 2022.

It all started when Tadpatrikar witnessed the death of a deer due to plastic ingestion while visiting a wildlife sanctuary. The Tadpatrikars decided to do something about it. After two years and much trial and error, they found a solution that ‘recovers’ plastic by converting it to fuel.

“We realised that if we reversed the plastic-making process, we got two materials. One was this polyfuel that can be used for ignition and burning, while the black powder that came out of it was carbon black,” Tadpatrikar said in a newspaper interview.

Established in 2009, Rudra Environmental Solution has been involved in research of converting waste plastic into fuel technology through the thermo catalytic depolymerisation process. The first pilot plant was established in March 2010, a second-generation plant in 2013 and now its patented, third-generation plant is running successfully in the company's own factory in Jejuri MIDC area.

In the same interview, Tadpatrikar added, “We are a social enterprise and I feel it is more important that we do good than that we make money. But, yes, to be sustainable we have to make money. Which we will, once we roll out our plan to reach all the metros. We are getting calls from Delhi particularly, since air pollution there is terrible.”

Rudra has tied up with Keshav Sita Memorial Foundation Trust for creating awareness of segregation at source as well as picking up waste plastic from various areas of Pune for the last year and a half. At present, the collection happens from almost 12,000 households, hotels and businesses.

Keshav Sita trust has been connecting with many societies by creating awareness of segregation at source by personally conducting meetings with flat holders and society committees as well as various hotels. This personal contact has helped the trust and Rudra to not only create awareness but to get the cooperation of an army of people who have started segregation and are giving the plastic to the trust.

This gives Rudra an advantage, as the same model can be replicated and enhanced to reach more households and businesses. Rudra and Keshav Sita trust have worked constructively over the period of almost Three years to develop a good working relationship with all its stakeholders.

“The world has about eight billion tonnes of plastic dumped in landfills or the ocean. Imagine the amount of polyfuel this can generate. Imagine how much savings a huge mall in India can make (which uses approximately 10,000 litres of diesel per annum) if they buy polyfuel, and generate miniscule amounts of pollutants while doing so?” she said.

A serial entrepreneur, Tadpatrikar is also the director of Mantraa Research & Consultants, and Phoenix General Insurance Brokers. She has 16 years of experience in marketing, research and training with renowned Indian and European companies.