Every year, the Reserve Bank of India destroys 7.325 million old and defunct notes in its shredding machines. But with Modi’s recent currency ban, the load on shredders has increased exponentially.
Now banks like RBI have to get rid of about 22 billion notes. And they don’t have many options. Once the money is shredded there’s nowhere for it to go.
We tried recycling it by making products out of it, like cardboard or novelty paperweights. We tried making bricks out of them. We tried getting NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and commercial firms to see if they could use it. We even tried giving it away to the NGOs, free of cost.R Gandhi, Regional Director of RBI
Many paper recycling companies don’t usually accept shredded money because there isn’t enough of it to make use of the material, R Gandhi, Regional Director of RBI, told Mint.
Up until the 1990’s, banks would burn notes that became too destroyed or were too old to be widely circulated. But burning waste is discouraged because of its impact on the environment, so the left-overs now end up in landfills.
Still, in the rush to get rid of worthless notes, piles of burning bills have been found across the country. Bags with bills worth crores have also been dumped.
Environmentalists say all this panic over the currency ban has drawn attention from other crises in the country.
There was a public momentum that was building up (against air pollution). The news of demonetisation has shifted the public focus, as well as media focus, from that public health emergency we are facing.Sunil Dahiya, Campaigner, Greenpeace