Companies launch more than Rs 1,000-crore plastic waste management drive

Days after the government announced a ban on a slew of polluting items, leading manufacturers from several industries like fast-moving consumer goods, apparels and liquor have come together to launch a plastic waste management programme that they claim will be the largest in the continent. 

Led by top beverage makers — PepsiCo Holdings, Coca-Cola India, and Bisleri International — the programme is a producer-led-and-owned plastic waste management venture, a first of its kind.

Several other companies like Reliance Industries, Diageo, Parle Agro, Varun Beverages and CavinKare, etc. have also committed to join in, taking the total number of firms to 32.

Manufacturers said the participating companies would mobilise and converge assets, resources, and investment of more than Rs 1,000 crore. They plan to have a network of 125 material recovery facilities in the country, which will work with over 2,500 aggregators over the next three years. By 2025, they aim to recycle all recyclable plastic in the country.

According to Vimal Kedia, president, Packaging Association for Clean Environment (PACE), an industry body, the venture is aimed at bringing together 60 per cent of the plastic value chain in the country. 

The initiative comes after a country-wide ban was announced on a dozen items like straws, small cutlery, plastic sticks used for ear buds, balloons, flags and candies, thin carry bags (less than 50 microns), and non-woven carry bags. However, no ban has been proposed yet on PET bottles larger than 200ml, that are used by beverage majors extensively.

Plastic bottles, less than or equal to 200 ml, are often used in hotels, airlines and banquet halls. The beverages industry is planning to request the Central Pollution Control Board to exclude plastic bottles, irrespective of size, from the list.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech, had announced his government’s intention to ban single-use plastic. The new initiative by the leading manufacturers of consumer goods is in line with their stated vision of recycling plastic waste, instead of use of any alternate material for packaging. 

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