November 7, 2018

More corporates join war on plastic

News Source: The Hindu

More Indian corporates have signed up for a global commitment to eradicate plastic waste and pollution at source. There are 250 organisations already on the list, including many of the world’s largest packaging producers, brands, retailers, and recyclers.

The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with the UN Environment. The Foundation began studying the issue of plastic pollution four years ago, to understand how much plastic is collected for recycling globally, how much is burnt, downgraded to a lower quality, sent to the landfill, and how much escapes into nature.

It found that 32 per cent ends up ‘leaking’. The Foundation calculated that by 2050, there could be more plastic in the ocean, by weight, than fish.

Waging a war against plastic, big brands have pledged to cut all plastic waste from their operations. Spirits and wine major Pernod Ricard is the latest signatory, joining Unilever, Coca-Cola, L’Oreal, Marks and Spencer, Nestle, PepsiCo, Philips, Colgate-Palmolive, Danone and Indorama Ventures Public Company Ltd.

India’s consumption of plastic amounts to some 12.8 million tonnes annually. While an estimated 5.6 million tonnes of plastic waste is disposed off annually, 43 per cent of this is attributable to packaging.

Volumes of plastics coming up for processing are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of above 10 per cent, said an official with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

To tackle the growing amounts of plastic waste in both urban and rural areas, the Government of India issued the new Plastic Waste Management Rules in 2016. A core feature of this, according to the official, is the Extended Producer Responsibility, which mandates producers to establish collection systems for generated waste in close collaboration with State urban development departments.

Reducing volumes

Major brands are signing up for the initiative. Coca-Cola Hindustan Ltd is contributing to not only a reduction of the per capita consumption of plastic waste at its units, but also enhancing plastic waste collection and recycling. ACC Ltd, one of the largest producers of cement, is also looking to reduce its plastic waste volumes through co-processing the same in their cement kilns. From managing around 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste in 2012, ACC is likely to increase the volume from the current 82,000 tonnes to around 1.20 lakh tonnes a year. Nestle India, too, has joined hands with the initiative, with work progressing across 12 States in India.

The company has also initiated a consumer awareness campaign: ‘2-Minute Safai Ke Naam’, focussing on proper collection and disposal of plastic waste in a few geographies.

Coca-Cola India says addressing the broader plastic waste challenge, it is closing the loop connecting every player in the plastic recycling value chain starting from waste collectors to recyclers.

This January, the company globally announced its vision to collect and recycle equivalent of every bottle or can that Coca-Cola sells globally by 2030.

Along with managing post consumer waste, Coca-Cola India said it will continue to offer its beverages in Returnable Glass Bottles (RGBs) which are completely recovered from the market except for breakages. In 2017, RGBs constituted 31 per cent of sales.