KOCHI: The recently concluded Material Recycling Association of India's (MRAI) 6th International Indian Material Recycling Conference here found that India generates about 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste per day and contributes to 8 per cent of the global solid waste generation.
But only 60 per cent of it is processed, and the remaining unsegregated and littered waste remain scattered in our neighbourhoods and landfills.
At the first-ever session attended by 100 delegates mainly from plastic recycling industry, municipal authorities, material recycling technologies, consumer brands and plastic recycling domestic and international associations like BIR and ISRI, it was stressed that a concerted bid must be made by all stakeholders to collect maximum non-recycled plastic diverted to landfill and minimise single use and educate society at large.
"Plastic recycling needs to be taken as the commodity business; the value of plastic scrap is directly related to its quality. The need of the hour is to adopt a circular economy - produce-use-collect-sort-recycle-produce," said Navin Sharma, director, MRAI.
"However, in the Indian context, the real challenge lies in the collection and segregation. This is because though the plastic packaging industry is sophisticated, the waste is left to the informal sector of estimated 15-lakh rag pickers at the bottom of the pyramid to scavenge and collect recyclables."
He stressed the need to co-opt the waste pickers into the process for the integration value chain so that waste pickers find it economically beneficial to collect the waste.
Sameer Joshi, secretary, Indian Plastic Institute, said as per Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) policy 2018, finished goods producers using plastic as a packing material have to ensure that 30 per cent of the plastic used by them should be collected back and reused, recycled, remanufactured. The suggestion was made at the meet that under EPR the responsibility of cost of disposal should be shifted to the producer. It was also announced that single-use plastics would be phased out by 2022 in India.
"We need to recycle maximum plastics, and non-recyclable plastics be sent to end of life disposal units like cement factories, where it can be used as fuel, or convert same to oil for use in boilers," said International Scrap Recycling Institute (ISRI) plastics division chair Sunil Bagaria...