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Moving Towards Sustainable Packaging: One Step At A Time

The government and the private sector need to collaborate and work in tandem to create a circular economy that ensures a steady transition towards green packaging.

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With the stupendous rise of social media, it is not uncommon for timelines and dashboards to continuously throw up distressing images of sea-life and the havoc that plastic has caused to our oceans and lives in general. Take a look at some of these global figures for instance: “More than 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally every year, and 10 percent will end up in the sea; in the worst affected ocean areas, there are over one million pieces of plastic for every square mile and plastic will outweigh the population of fish by 2050,” claims environmentalist David Attenborough’s groundbreaking wildlife documentary Blue Planet II.

Considering a majority of us have either heard of, or seen images of tangled fish, beached whales and injured turtles, many of us have, more often than not, helplessly wondered about the consequences and where solutions lie? To begin with, let me assure you that, the packaging industry firmly believe that green and sustainable packaging coupled with innovation, is arguably the way forward and though there may be plenty of reasons to feel disenchanted, there’s never a reason to be pessimistic. 

Today, globally green packaging and sustainable solutions have become a rule rather than a norm for CPGs and end-users. Although, cost-effective solutions that provide positive environmental impact seem far and few in between, increasingly brands are consciously veering towards manufacturers that provide these solutions as part of their sustainability roadmap.

Green packaging is based on the 3R policy: reduce, reuse, recycle (and additionally re-consume and re-circulate). Though these words may seem larger than life and the task easier said than done, the industry believe that to contain the New Plastics Economy, companies, manufacturers, government and stakeholders must work towards adopting imaginative solutions like biodegradable packaging and recyclable packaging, making us move towards a circular economy that propagates a new way to design, make, and use things within planetary boundaries. The system involves everyone and everything: businesses, governments, and individuals; our cities, our products, and our jobs. By designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems we can reinvent everything. This cannot be achieved in isolation; consumers, as well as manufacturers collectively, have to lead the charge towards this system. 

The packaging industry is constantly evolving their in-house capabilities towards sustainable innovation. A fine example of this is the progress made towards manufacturing special films that contain a minimum of 90 percent post-consumer recycled PET content. This means creating green packaging using these films, in the form of pouches, sachets, labels, etc. that gets collected after use for recycling, thereby creating a circular economy for these products and lowering the carbon footprint. 

In India, with the recent announcement made by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change regarding the final date for the ban on plastic scrap imports, there has been a sudden rise in demand. However, once the ban comes into force later in August this year, it is inevitable that the industry will have to look inwards in order to meet the demand. This perhaps poses as a significant opportunity for the packaging industry to step up to the challenge and once and for all, decide the fate of recyclables in India. 

In order to switch toward green packaging, it is imperative that both governmental bodies, as well as the private sector, collaborate toward boasting initiatives which will not only solve the urgent issues around plastic waste but will also reiterate India’s firm position in upholding United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Anantshree Chaturvedi

The author is Vice Chairman of FlexFilms International

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