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Creating Wealth from Plastic Waste needs a Systematic Approach by all Stakeholders
The advent of polymer science and the application of the polymers in packaging has been the greatest contribution to human health in last 5 decades. In last many years, several learned scientists and institutions have tested suitability of plastics for various packaging applications. Specifications have been made for kind of additives to be used. Billions of dollars have been spent in various labs to set up standards for plastics packaging application in a spectrum of forms like films, bottles, single layer or multilayer, application in hot or cold conditions, application with pressure or under vacuum, etc.
Plastic products, being mostly organic in nature, are always in the cleanest form with least possible damage of any type to human beings, when used as packaging material. Today we have healthy children, clean hospitals, clean food habits, clean drinking habits, clean toilets all because of use of plastics in packaging. We have tamperproof medicines, we have safe drinking water, we have food with proper shelf life, and above all we can trust what we consume. Plastic packaging shields us from virus or bacteria attacks. Plastic packaging is like the defence or the Border Security Force which protects our country.
This industry is also one of the highest employment generators in the country with the maximum number of start-ups. Banning of plastic is really an ill processed thinking, when all the benefits of plastics are visible to us. Why we have to think in retrospective when world has moved forward. Where do we want to take our country and what do we give our next generation. We cannot burden them with stone-age thinking. We all agree, vast scrutiny is needed before any packaging material is cleared for food, beverage or pharmaceutical product. But a "Ban" or "Partial Ban" or "Selective Ban" is not the answer. We have spent crores of rupees in setting up laboratories from across the country in various fields and we need to trust them.
Correction of any error is essential but retrospective step without scientific support is a dangerous trend for future.
The issue which should be debated is how we can have efficient plastic waste recycling in the country with participation of people and Local urban bodies. What can be debated is how much is the thickness of the film to be used in carrier bags or in any other packaging form. The thickness should be guiding factor for easy collection and recycling. The noise we hear today is more because of not having a systematic waste collection. It is definitely not because plastics are nuisance. Instead of thinking of banning plastics in packaging let us think of making our food, beverage, milk and Pharma products more and more safe with innovative packaging using plastics supported by systematic recycling network.
The nightmare is over and it is time for action. All the municipal commissioners are now geared up to work on separation of solid waste and organic waste. The Plastic waste management policy PWM-2016 has become reality now. Role and responsibility of all stake holders are very well defined in the policy. Modern world can not survive without the support of plastic industry. So please stop slogans like ban plastics. Instead please say collect plastic waste and build wealth and build a swatch bharat.
Plastic is essential part in every individual’s life, right from time you get up with your tooth brush in hand till the time you sleep with your finger on electric switch. Every industry is dependent of plastic industry to grow. Food & Beverage consume almost 40% of plastic as packaging and storage material. This is followed by automobile, white goods, electrical appliances, agricultural industry, construction industry, and toys for children, medical kits, medicine containers, educational instruments, recreation instruments and so on.
When we use plastics we also generate waste after its usefulness is lost. It is here that the real disconnect happened. The industry did not realize that it has to work faster to generate collection method for plastic waste to make it an employment generation sector and generate application for plastic waste with products to suit industry and society. Only notable exception is the recycling of PET products. Every PET bottle is collected and sold with reasonably good price. PET is rag picker’s delight. For other plastic waste specially packaging films, wrappers and thermoformed thin containers road side is the destination. There was nobody to explain value of the plastic they throw to the street or at the lake side or at beaches. There was no strong authority to impose the laws to prevent littering. Food industry has been always coming up with innovative packages, but never thought of creating a cyclic approach. The present approach is eat or drink and throw the packing material into the street. The future approach will be eat and preserve the packing for generating sufficient income. More we keep the plastic waste in clean condition better the price you get. We as individual or collectively by the housing society can collect, store and sell all our plastic waste for a good price.
Plastic waste can be used to make different products, both for engineering and non-engineering applications. Plastic waste can be used for energy generation. It can be reused for the same application after processing
In INDIAPLAST 2019 Exhibition, organized by PMMAI, concluded on 4th March 2019, we decided to educate people how waste recycling is happening across the country. We gave place for many champions of recycling world who showcased their contribution in recycling world. The pavilion was flooded with mainly youngsters who learned how plastic is not bad, but the way we handle plastic waste is wrong.
Some of the key takeaways are:
1) Deshmukh Research Institute demonstrated how coming from a small village patented application was developed for developing useful products from village waste. DRI has made bricks which is projected to be used for Army bunkers as it has ability to absorb the power of high intensity gun firing. This application alone can absorb large scale mixed plastic waste consumption. He has developed equipment which can process 50kgs of mixed plastic waste to tiles, bricks, paver blocks and mile stones. Normally a village has population of 10000 to 20000 and average plastic waste generated will not be more than 50Kgs per day. By having such equipment in every village, all plastic waste can be converted to useful products for villages. PMMAI has decided to drive this initiative to national level in a big way.
2) Recykal is a company which developed digital platform to help people to get value to their plastic wastage. Highly successful in Hyderabad, it is likely to hit all major cities. The App-based waste collection and creation of value for the waste segregated has helped in cultural changes of people.
3) Gore Plastics and Carbouys, a Pune based company demonstrated with a glass reactor how plastic waste is converted to Diesel which can used as fuel for vehicles or for energy generation. The company has successfully installed two 5 ton capacity plants in Southern India. This is useful in medium cities where collection of waste is higher. Worst of plastic waste mixed with even Tetra Pak cartons can be converted into useful fuel for tractors and energy generation.
4) A Pune based start-up company Plus0ne has developed employment to thousands of people for making school bags out of Flex panels waste. Normally Flex panels which are used for advertisements are literally dumped for land filling. Such flex can be now made useful. It is a social enterprise, but having large impact on swatch Bharat program. Flex are made from PVC and normally would have gone for land filling.
5) Bhopal model of waste segregation was well demonstrated by Sarthak Samudayik Vikas Evan Jankalyan Sanstha, Bhopal. This model must be repeated across the country. It also explains why three cities of Madhya Pradesh, including Indore & Bhopal are top green cities of India. Then there were many product displays made out of waste like furnitures, pallets, mile stones, crates, entire low cost houses all made with upcoming new start-ups.
Complete demonstration of how MLPs (multilayer) is reprocessed and converted to useful products was done by UFLEX, a global giant in multilayer products.
Today, India's per capita consumption of Plastic is approximately 12Kgs. The demand forecast is 20kg/person in year 2020. 40% of this is used food and beverage applications. This also means lot of plastic waste. This also means lot of business opportunity and employment generation. Hence EPR which is part of the PWM 2016 policy becomes very crucial. Responsible package development with recycling and reuse in mind must be the motto of food & Beverage Industry.
Per capita consumption of Plastic in India is too low compared to USA, Europe and China. The damage these countries have inflicted on environment is lesson to us to be one step ahead. We have better recycling rate and by driving systematic and sustainable program we can achieve target of less than one percent Plastic in land filling by year 2025.
In a seminar which I addressed in Pune, I told people to take 4R oath on Plastic waste management.
In conclusion, Employment opportunity will be there in developing machines and system for waste sorting, segregation, compacting, transporting, product developments and so on. We have to give respectability, health check, insurance, sustainable revenue for these warriors of SWATCH BHARAT. In next 10 years recycling and upcycling Industry will grow bigger than main stream business.
PLEASE DO NOT LITTER AND DO NOT MIX PLASTIC WITH ORGANIC WASTE. LET US KEEP PLASTIC WASTE IN CLEAN CONDITION FOR BETTER PRICE RECOVERY AND FOR BETTER ENVOIRNMENT.
CLEAN INDIA IS BETTER INDIA FOR OUR NEXT GENERATION.
AFTER ALL PLASTIC IS OUR FRIEND IN NEED. RESPECT PLASTIC.
Author is chairman of Active Biz Solutions Pvt Ltd. You can reach him on,
» Publication Date: 15/03/2019
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