Why PRS in India?
Despite recent challenging times, the Indian economy has been growing over the last few years. The Indian Plastics Industry is one of the key economic growth drivers of the country and consistently proves its ability to contribute via the automotive, construction, electronics, healthcare, textiles and FMCG sectors.
Historically, India has been among the top 10 consumers of plastic but awareness of its recyclable benefits was relatively low. Plastic consumption rose considerably from 2016-2020 and plastic waste output doubled during the same period.
However, in July 2023 New Delhi’s Commerce and Industry minister highlighted India’s recent impressive recycling achievements. The country’s plastic recycling average of 13% surpasses the global average of 9% and outperforms some developed economies that only recycle 4%.
To fight the plastic pollution crisis head-on, in 2022 the Indian government passed a law forcing producers, importers and brand owners to recycle up to 50% of the plastic they use or produce over the next three years. The legislation goes further than any other country and not only covers well-known, easily recycled PET but all plastic types and materials. Each material under the new law will have its own mandatory usage of recycled content set. Eg, Category 1 (rigid plastic) has the mandatory target of 30% of recycled content in the material by 2025, with 10% increases until 2028.
India’s ambitious recycling approach aims to inspire the fight against plastic pollution with its actions creating a roadmap for other global leaders to follow.
As well as imposing a ban on single-use plastic, the government has created a statutory framework for including the use of biodegradable plastics as an alternative material. Other effective policy interventions are being considered to create a sustained impact.
The India Plastics Pact, launched in September 2021, was developed by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and WWF India to create a unified national framework for driving forward a circular economy for plastics. Its vision is to create ‘a world where plastic is valued and doesn’t pollute the environment’ and is supported by WRAP, a global NGO based in the UK. Focusing on addressing the barriers to circularity in the plastic packaging sector, the Pact has four ambitious targets by 2030;
• Define a list of unnecessary/problematic plastic packaging items and take measures to address them through redesign and innovation
• 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable (containing specific properties)
• 50% of plastic packaging to be effectively recycled
• 25% average recycled content across all plastic packaging
The India Plastics Pact is uniting businesses, the government, NGOs non-profits and other stakeholders through a shared action plan for building a circular economy for plastic packaging.
The government has stressed the need for continuous improvement and innovation in recycling practices and encouraged the adoption of emerging technologies and collaboration with industry experts to further enhance recycling methods. It has also emphasised its commitment to supporting initiatives that promote sustainable waste management and recycling practices.