Plastic Packaging Waste is at an all time high & is due to increase, India must act | Valdamark

Asia consumes 50% of global plastic packaging, which could quadruple by 2050. Food, beverage and healthcare represent 75% of plastic packaging use.

Waste

These numbers make for some pretty grim reading.

In total Asia generates about 50% of plastic packaging globally. As if that were not enough it is forecast to go up 4x by 2025.

About 75% of the plastic waste generated is due to three primary markets. Healthcare, food & drink.

The demand is forever increasing though as Asia’s appetite for home food delivery is on the up too. This change in buying conditions just mean more plastic is used.

As if this wasn’t bad enough recycling is extremely low for all Asian countries except Japan who currently recycle about 83% of their waste. Compare that with near neighbours Taiwan who only manage about 35%.

The Indian Ocean and China Seas contains an estimated 2.7 to 7.3 million tonnes per annum.

Attention from the mainstream media and other outlets has combined to try to encourage government intervention and initiatives. Indeed the G10 initiative has made this issue a key discussion point.

But action is what is needed!

Australia, Japan & Taiwan have gone down the regulatory routes to monitor and penalise manufacturers who exceed plastic packaging limits. China & Indonesia have recently brought in fees for plastic bags. Mumbai the city in India has introduced a 5000 rupee fine for not recycling plastic bags and bottles.

These steps however do not go as far as Korea who is looking to eradicate coloured plastic bottles by 2020. Taiwan has taken the ambitious step to ban all plastic packaging by 2030.

Business needs to change. This will cost money with capital expenditure for expensive re-tooling and supply chain changes. Like adapting their packaging for export shipping.

But, with it taking 500 years for one of these bottles to biodegrade can we afford not to.

Indian Plastic Packaging Waste And Government Action

In recent years, India has experienced a concerning increase in pollution brought by plastic waste. This environmental crisis is a result of the nation's rapid population growth along with the associated rise in plastic consumption. Unfortunately, bodies of water such as rivers, creeks, and oceans have turned into landfills for disposable plastics. This causes severe harm to marine ecosystems and animals.

The consequences of the plastic pollution crisis are multifaceted. They include general safety risks to the public, wildlife degradation, and environmental imbalances. With this situation, the government has taken bold steps to address plastic pollution.

Ban of Single-Use Plastic
One of the actions taken was the ban on making single-use plastic packaging. The ban went into effect in July 2022.

This move aimed to reduce the generation of plastic waste at the source. It prevented further contamination of the environment. The Management Rules of Plastic Waste, 2016, had previously defined carry bags. It encourages the manufacturing of thicker carry plastic bags. Initially, the prescribed thickness is 50-micron for these bags. It replaces the 40-micron prescribed previously.

Plastic Waste Management 2021
Recently, the Plastic Waste Act and Amendment Rules, 2021, mandated an even higher thickness. In the rules, the required plastic thickness is 75 microns. This took effect from January 1, 2023. The goal was to increase the value of carry bags. This would improve the possibility of their collection from streets and landfills.

The role of garbage collectors is critical in channeling plastic to recycling stations. But, the question remains whether increasing the bag thickness alone will fully resolve the issue. Informal waste workers may still find it unprofitable to collect or recycle plastic with low value. Even with the ban implementation, plastic bags and other waste may continue to litter.

Banning single-use packaging and plastics is a favourable action. However, to fight this situation, a comprehensive strategy must be taken. Aside from regulatory measures, the government needs to increase awareness and education. It should promote alternative packaging options. The collaboration between citizens, the government, and businesses, is essential. Together, they create a future for India that is free of plastic and is more sustainable.

Sustainable Packaging
India has not just been combating plastic pollution through regulations. It has also witnessed the introduction of sustainable packaging and other initiatives across businesses and industries. Thus, it highlights an increasing concern for safeguarding the environment. Companies in India are implementing environmentally friendly packaging techniques.

These alternatives include paper and biodegradable materials. Others are edible packaging and upcycling options, returnable and reusable systems.

Packaging optimisation is also being developed. This shift away from single-use plastics reduces the use of non-renewable resources. It promotes renewable materials, minimises waste, and optimises the use of raw materials.

Efforts to raise awareness among consumers and promote the practice of responsible disposal are also in motion. Sustainable packaging options are creating a significant shift towards friendly alternatives. It results in reducing the impact of plastic packaging waste on the environment. By implementing creative approaches promoting ethical disposal, companies are contributing to a circular economy. This fosters a greener and better future for the nation.

In conclusion, India's battle against plastic pollution is far from over. But the government implements decisive actions. Also, businesses commit to sustainable packaging practices. These provide hope for a cleaner and healthier environment. To achieve lasting change, it is essential that the government, businesses, and citizens, continue to work together.

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