Plastic pollution has become an urgent environmental issue, resulting in overflowing landfills and oceans contaminated with plastic waste. Annually, India generates approximately 3.4 million tonnes of plastic waste, but only a mere 30% of it is recycled. The luxury real estate sector has contributed significantly to our increasing plastic consumption, with the nation consuming 25 million tonnes of plastic in the past year alone. However, by embracing sustainable practices and implementing innovative solutions, the real estate sector can play a pivotal role in driving change and redefining the principles of responsible building and living. Here are a few measures that can contribute positively towards this mission:
Sustainable Construction Techniques:
Instead of metal or plywood formwork, recycled plastic formwork can be used for non-critical areas. The utilisation of recycled plastic formwork not only achieves a fair face concrete finish but also offers means to upcycle plastic waste. Builders can take this one step further and even equip their construction sites with recycled formwork systems. Every single developer should be committed to promote a cleaner and healthier environment throughout the construction process by prioritizing conscious material choices. This includes selecting non-polluting organic chemicals for adhesives and jointing compounds, as opposed to traditional polymers that contaminate our soil, water and air. To protect the environment from plastic pollution, one other measure involves a meticulous approach to land refilling. Earth used for refilling, undergoes thorough sieving which helps filter out any plastic component. By taking this one proactive step, developers can prevent plastic from re-entering the ecosystem.
Working With Plastic:
Plastic and luxury have not traditionally been associated with each other. However, due to the global efforts in waste reduction, we are witnessing a trend of new materials entering the market that are responsibly manufactured and capable of meeting customers’ standards. An excellent example would be the use of recycled plastic lumber or wood-plastic composite for decking in developments. While delivering luxury real estate, it is crucial to source materials from different parts of the world.
However, global sourcing often results in the use of plastic packaging to protect high-end finishing of such materials. To tackle this issue, the use of sustainable packaging materials should be prioritized, promoting a culture of repurposing all packaging during the delivery process. By giving these materials a second life, one can not only reduce overall plastic waste generation but also maximize the resources invested in packaging.
The commitment does not end with construction. Developers must take this practise forward even after the building is delivered. To begin with, they must consciously try to avoid any single-use plastic throughout their operations. Thereafter, regular practises like grey and black water recycling within the development helps reduce water wastage drastically, low-flow flushes and fixtures help consume 50% less water, centralized water heating eliminates the requirement of instant geysers.
With the help of evolution and technology, new-age developers are also finding more ways to exhibit their commitment to sustainability, like powering common areas through solar energy, LEDs with occupancy sensors ensure efficient utilization of energy, EV supportive architecture encourages residents to switch to cleaner fuels, using double glazed performance glass which increases efficiency of HVAC systems, so on and so forth.
Effective waste management should be at the core of all sustainable practices. All buildings can be effectively designed to include waste segregation by providing convenient access routes to recycling facilities. To further foster the effort, free pick-up services can be offered for residents who actively
participate in segregating their waste. Through all these efforts, developers can promote responsible disposal practices and encourage a circular economy.
In conclusion, the battle against plastic pollution in luxury residential real estate requires a holistic approach, one that weaves sustainable practices into every aspect of the industry. By utilizing recycled materials, embracing responsible manufacturing, reducing plastic consumption, implementing efficient waste management, and fostering a culture of sustainability, developers can make a significant impact. It’s time to redefine the standards of sustainable living and pave the way for a much cleaner, healthier, and environmentally conscious future.
By – Rishad Khergamwala – Director – Developments, MAIA Estates