With the National Green Tribunal mulling ban on plastic packaging of products, including PET bottles, a study has estimated that the ban is likely to hit 13 lakh jobs and sales of whopping Rs 53,000 crore.
The study by industry body Ficci and Strategy& highlighted that nearly 13 lakh workers across 10,000 firms engaged in plastic packaging for FMCG products will need to find alternative jobs.
"The study estimates that a ban on plastic packaging will directly impact plastic industry sales of Rs 53,000 crore. Additionally, 13 lakh personnel across 10,000 firms (mostly SMEs) engaged in plastic packaging for FMCG will need to find alternative employment," the study said.
A ban on plastic packaging could lead to unwarranted consequences particularly on low-priced products as the cost to manufacture and distribute these products could rise multi-fold, it said.
The study recommended that the prudent way forward is not an outright ban on plastic packaging but rather finding solutions to the problem of plastic waste management.
The study highlighted that plastics are the material of choice in packaging products across categories globally.
In India, an overwhelming majority of the FMCG products are packaged in plastic. In fact, 90 per cent of biscuits, dried processed food items, hair care products, dairy products, laundry products and baked goods sold in India in 2014 were packaged in plastic.
"While appreciating the concerns related to environment it needs to be noted that restrictions or ban on plastics packaging would impact the growth of several industries like FMCG, Food Processing, Plastics Packaging and allied industries. It could further adversely impact consumers in terms of cost, health and safety," the study noted.
Plastic has been the preferred material for packaging globally as well as in India due to three critical benefits relative to alternatives such as glass, paper, metals etc.
It offers superior food safety, quality and shelf life; lower environmental impact across the product lifecycle; and better versatility to create more innovative and consumer friendly packaging options.