USED TEA BAG IN YOUR CUP: Solution to Waste Water Remediation and Starting Material for Production of Essential Phytochemicals
Contamination of water by toxic heavy metals, dyes, pesticides, herbicides and other xenobiotics through the discharge of industrial wastewater is a worldwide environmental problem. This toxic water adversely affects plant life, and thus an entire ecosystem can be destroyed. Usage of reverse osmosis system, precipitation followed by coagulation and membrane filtration are limited due to high cost and energy demands. Activated carbon-produced by carbonizing organic materials is the most widely used adsorbent for toxicants. However, the high cost of the activation process limits its use.
Thus Manav Rachna University at its Department of Chemistry started working on the principles of Green Chemistry to address this problem. Initially, Manav Rachna Campus Chapter of Green Chemistry Network Centre (GCNC) was established and inaugurated by Dr. Avtar Matharu, University of York UK. To promote Green Chemistry Initiatives, theUniversity also conducted, an International Conference ‘Green Initiatives in Science and Technology’ inaugurated by Dr. Matharu and International workshop ‘Chemistry for Tomorrow’s World’ sponsored by RSC, inaugurated by Prof. David Constable, Director ACS-GCI, USA.
A team of students started working on the concept of bio-adsorbent, a Green Chemistry Principle. It was observed that University generates approximately 450-500 waste tea bags/day which is in addition to solid waste per capita of the country. It is an oxygen demanding pollutant and takes a long time for biodegradation. The generation of bio waste also produces economic loss due to the high cost of transportation to disposal areas and also generating ecological and sanitary problems.Waste tea bags used as adsorbent becomes saturated, it is just incinerated, the waste tea ash obtained by incineration is not a pollutant rather it could be also used as an adsorbent. Hence, tea waste is a cost effective adsorbent. The work is under collaboration with Dr. Matharu.