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From Waste to Worth: Transforming Plastic Waste Into Valuable Resources

Industry leaders highlight sustainable solutions and innovations in plastic management

Deepa Nagraj, Global Head of Communications, Sparkle Innovation Ecosystem, ESG and CSR, Mphasis outlines the primary contributors to plastic waste, she says, “One of the things that we hear a lot of people talk about is we’re probably the last generation who can do something to ensure that the world doesn’t get warmer than what it already is. The question we should ask ourselves is what kind of ancestors we want to be. Individuals and organisations like Mphasis, may be doing multiple smaller initiatives. We run something called zero plastic, which means no single-use plastic ever enters the building.”

Nagraj adds that for a plastic-free world, one must look at the entire life cycle of the material. How it is created, the source of plastic itself, how it is manufactured to consumables, how people use it and how they dispose of it.

On effective regulations to reduce single-use plastic, Rahul Nene, Head of Sustainability, Huhtamaki India asserts, “In our general public perception, we end up villainising the material. What is bad is the way we are using it. We have created linear systems for plastic usage where we don’t have correct end-of-life treatments for it. It is necessary to have a scientific approach in managing plastics. There are items which our pollution control board has recognised in the Indian infrastructure and those have been enlisted as single-use plastics and they have been banned. There is definitely a thought that has gone behind enlisting certain aspects which are single-use plastics and then banning them because as a country probably we cannot use them in the most sustainable way.”

Nene notes that EPR is something pushing companies to take responsibility beyond its boundaries and take responsibility for plastic waste post-consumer use. From the next year, 2025-26 onwards there is a push for companies to include recycled content into their packaging, 5 per cent, 10 per cent, depending on the type of plastic packaging it is.

Vishwa Bandhu Bhattacharjee, Director-Sustainability, Tata Consumer Products emphasises, “We can do smart packaging where we reduce the weight of the package itself, that stops plastic being introduced into the stream. For example, in our Tata salt, a one kilogramme pouch, has been re-engineered to weigh 11 per cent less. That means that we have been able to avoid 200 plus tonnes of plastic even getting introduced into the stream.”

He stresses designing for recyclability and notes that Tata has a very strong focus that what cannot be replaced, should be made recyclable so that the managing it becomes easier.

Talking about changing consumer habits to responsibly help in reducing single-use plastics, Satish ChamyVelumani, CEO / Business Head, Compostables Division, Pakka highlights, “As a company, we live and die for sustainability. We are manufacturers of sustainable packaging, but we call it regenerative packaging. Consumers are extremely price conscious and so are the businesses. Unfortunately, we are still, as a business community, looking at cost as a driver because the consumers are also looking at cost as a driver. Sustainability today is expensive, but not being sustainable is going to be extraordinarily expensive in the future. We must bite the bullet.”

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