"There is a lot of misinformation about plastics in our country," said Vimal Kedia, Chairman of Indian Institute of Packaging - Bangalore Centre. He was talking at the National Conference on Packaging Waste - Challenges and Opportunities, held here on Tuesday.
This conference is a part of a series of events that the Indian Institute of Packaging has been organising to create awareness about the packaging industry in India and also to bust myths about the hazards of plastic packaging.
According to the Indian Centre for Plastic in the Environment, about 48 per cent of the plastic consumed in India last year was from packaging.
Kedia said that the conference was timely as it came amidst citizen initiatives to rid the city of plastic. Plastic carry-bags are a menace to society today because nobody sees the value in collecting or recycling them, he said.
"All forms of packaging used in India are safe and 100 percent recyclable," he pointed out. He was referring to food and pharmaceutical packaging.
According to Prashant Khandelwal, the Senior Vice President, Ganesha Ecosphere, a firm involved in the collection and recycling of PET bottles, absence of written rules on recycling contributed to a uninformed social bias against recycled goods.
The other problem was contaminants, mixed with plastic either during manufacture ( aluminium, paper, etc) or at the time of consumption (wet waste), which make it unfit for reclycling.
Companies such as Tetra Pak, which manufactures the paper and plastic-based liquid cartons, actively involve themselves in ensuring that their packaging does not end up in the landfill, by educating consumers and ragpickers about it.
Globally, Plastic Waste Management is gaining prominence as a viable and profitable economic activity, estimated to cross $26 billion in the next four years. Companies in India are picking up on the trend.
"We have enough plastic to cover the planet four times over and by 2020, it is expected to double," said Dr. Babu Padmanabhan, Managing Director of Steer Engineering, the city-based firm which is implementing new technologies to safely recycle heterogenous plastic - a challenge that discouraged recycling in the past.
A standardised process for collection and recycling, public awareness and segregation at source will ensure that we continue to use plastics in packaging and safely so - this was message reinforced by discussions and case-studies presented throughout the day-long event.
Source : economictimes.indiatimes.com