Material Recycling the voice of India Recycling Industry Oct-Nov-2019
The plastic industry has come a long way in the past 25 years. It deserves due recognition and “recycling” could possibly be an avenue for its survival, believes Deepak Mehta of leading supplier of recycling technologies, Leevams Incorporated.
The continued growth of the Indian economy with 1.3 billion inhabitants, change in lifestyle, consumer behavioural pattern and convenience-oriented uses have enhanced the demand for plastic products many folds. Of course, this has invited risk of environmental pollution, with lack of waste management practices. At times, the danger goes beyond the limits: with the plastic waste originating in the city or town resting on the barren lands while the countryside plastic waste getting introduced in the oceans via rivers and coasts, thus seriously harming the environment. A precondition for protecting or safeguarding the environment with sustainable growth is to create effective and efficient recycling systems for the used plastic products, commonly known as post-consumer waste. The challenge we all are facing is the growing amount of plastic waste with the ever-rising consumption pattern. No wonder, why it has posed a serious
environmental issue catching the attention of court, government & NGOs. Major reservation is towards the plastic waste which is not biodegradable! In fact, such plastic waste should be processed and re-used, realizing it as a valuable resource.
The growing global concern towards the environment, amongst the developed countries as well as the emerging countries, offer immense opportunities to share diverse and extensive experience in building appropriate, well-proven and economically viable recycling solutions for the plastic waste.
It is heartening to see the new plastic waste management rules 2016, amended in 2018, bringing the political will, legal framework for collection, disposal and execution, requisite information on plastics waste that needs immediate addressal as well as involved actors and stakeholders to comply with the EPR and CSR responsibilities. As the system sets its pace, a lot more clarity, understanding and streamlining would follow in the coming years, bringing India too in line with global practices. Rightly so, improvement in waste management practices is a continuous process.
A big fear or threat amongst the plastic fraternity is, if the targets are not met, the public or the government or NGOs could choose not use plastics and may come out with a solution that the industry likes the least!
Optimistically speaking, such a thrust has given the plastic industry a huge opportunity to shape their own future. Circular economy is going to be the zing thing; a buzz word in the field of plastics. An era to demonstrate, plastics can be circular by its economical reuse in production, replacing the virgin feedstock. It is going to be a game-changer; a paradigm shift in the mindset of the industry.
If taken in a positive stride, the results ought to show a strong demand from the plastic processors and converters for producing good quality recyclates. While the recycling of inhouse and industrial waste is fairly developed, very soon we will see a considerable potential in the recycling of post-consumer waste too.
If we recall, a decade or two ago no rag pickers or kabadiwalas was interested in collecting PET bottles, purely because they found no resale value for it. Today, special attention is given to PET amongst the post-consumer plastic waste recycling segment. PET bottles have become the most valuable stream fetching around Rs. 50/- per kg. Going by the recent announcement of PACE, about 90 percent of the collected PET is recycled in India. Due to legal restrictions, currently there is no bottle-to-bottle recycling, but soon India too would follow suit, like any other advanced country. Till then, majority of the material would continue to be converted into fibers, yarns and filaments.
Though the recycling of post-consumer plastic wastes from other applications are majorly in the domain of unorganized sector and playing a minor role, but it is a matter of time when we will see professional recycling practices being followed just like PET. One would agree, to qualify EPR, approach towards recycling of plastic waste ought to be different – far more advanced to meet the emerging quality standards for reuse of recycled granules or pellets.
Respecting the type, kind and commingled nature of Indian post-consumer waste, especially the recyclables originating from MSW or household waste, the very first step would be proper sorting, segregation and separation of all the major fractions.