But the current negotiation between the private players and the government bodies has further complicated the situation, with various industry lobby groups in action to strike a deal. Despite PETs being a single-use category packaging material, sources say, the government has agreed to keep it out of the fold. Other branded packaging materials like sachets and wrappers for confectionaries too may get exempted. Rather a middle ground is being worked out which will allow large branded players to continue using such materials in exchange of a cess. However, that may increase cost burden on consumers.
According to P C Joshi, secretary general of the policy advocacy industry body for PETs - PACE, state governments like in Gujarat are installing reverse vending machines to recycle plastic. The machines that are also being installed by several NGOs that work with private players, pays a nominal amount of Rs 1-2 through electronic transfer to consumers who deposit PET bottles. And for rag-pickers, special machines are being worked out that dispense cash rewards in exchange of plastic waste.
“The organized plastic recycling industry is pegged at Rs 50 billion a year. Last year 9,70,000 tonnes of PETs were produced out of which 80 percent of PETs were recycled in India. The government’s latest push is to ensure that the rest of it also recycled”, said Joshi.
(With inputs from Rajesh Bhayani)