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Sustainable Packaging Becoming Priority Across Sectors

With the rapid growth in the use of plastic for packaging, the concern for the environment has grown stronger.

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The packaging industry, one of the fastest-growing industries in the world – is valued for the Indian market at over $32 billion and offers employment to more than 10 lakh people across the country, as per a FICCI report. In India, it grew at a CAGR of 16 per cent between FY10 and FY15, the report further states. Range of factors from rising population, increased income levels and rural demands due to media penetration through the internet and television are contributions in the direction. 

Fig.: Plastic Packaging Industry Outlook (USD Bn)

Plastics fulfils the major quota in the packaging need. It the most go-to resource for packaging that household buy. The plastic-packaging are of two types - rigid and flexible packaging. The Indian packaging industry is expected to grow at 18 per cent p.a. - the flexible packaging at 25 per cent and rigid packaging at 15 per cent. With such rapid growth in the use of plastic for packaging, the concern for the environment has grown stronger. The government push for the curbing of single-use plastic has rattled feathers across all sectors involved in the packaging – FMCG, E-commerce, Hospitality, Retail, etc. As a consequence, the need for ‘Sustainable Packaging’ has come to be the need of the hour. The idea is to modulate the packaging material with sustainable and eco-friendly content along with keeping business objectives into consideration.  

Amidst the desired change, Cargill has redesigned its packaging across its oil business by cutting down on the amount of raw plastic used across all products. Coming in partnership with the Dow Chemical they have reformulated its plastic material to make 90 per cent of its plastic packaging recyclable. Apart from that, the business has also reduced the use of plastic by removing the paper label and converting it to in-mould labelling and converting paper used in the corrugated boxes to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.  

Piyush Patnaik, Managing Director, Cargill’s Oils Business in India said, “As a responsible business, we started this initiative with the goal of rethinking plastic packaging without compromising on packaging quality. Our efforts in the future will be strengthened as we are working to further our efforts to reduce, recycle and recover plastic packaging.” 

To improve the recovery of recyclable plastics, Cargill is working with the Indian Pollution Control Association (IPCA), India's First PRO registered with Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), to strengthen the collection and processing of used packages from consumers. IPCA has installed various dry waste collection centres at important locations to segregate and compact plastic waste before distributing it to co-processing industries and plants. Cargill’s Oils Business has increased its collection target to 70 per cent while adding more locations across India.  

Commenting on the partnership, Ashish Jain, Director IPCA said “IPCA is a proud partner of Cargill India for executing its Extended Producer Responsibility for managing plastic waste. We are happy to be associated with a company who pro-actively carries their Extended Responsibility for the betterment of society and the environment and it gives immense pleasure to see their efforts not only collecting and recycling post-consumer plastic waste, but they are also working toward reducing their plastic consumption and did excellent work in R&D with respect to plastic packaging design.” 

One of the biggest food Delivery Company in India, Zomato too has taken up initiatives in the direction. A Zomato spokesperson said, “The Company’s first step towards limiting the use of single-use plastic was by launching 'don't send cutlery' option on our app over two years ago. It offers consumers to opt-out of single-use plastic cutlery when they order.” To add to the whole efforts the companies have been funding researches or working with research organisations to develop products that have to fulfil the sustainability criteria. “We have been working with several research-based start-ups and firms to introduce high-quality, eco-friendly packaging for all our restaurant partners,” added the Zomato spokesperson.  

E-commerce companies have plastic-packaging accounting for 40 per cent of non-fibre plastic, according to a source. In this sector, the big e-commerce giant Amazon announced their commitment to eliminate single-use plastic from our packaging by June 2020. Akhil Saxena, Vice President, India Customer Fulfilment, Amazon India said, “The first step taken towards this change was the introduction of ‘paper cushions’, that is aimed to replace plastic dunnage like air pillows and bubble wraps across its fulfilment centres.” 

Indirectly, companies have been looking for sustainable sources of vitalizing their business. Saxena stated, “We have 10 large fulfilment centres and sort centres in the country which are powered by the rooftop solar panel and we will continue to expand this across the network. This will generate close to 9 megawatts units of solar energy yearly to support the annual energy needs of the buildings, reducing dependency on conventional sources of energy.”

 


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