FMCG companies chase stiff deadlines to cut plastic use

When PM Modi has set deadline of October 2, 2019, for eradication of single-use plastic, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies are working aggressively towards meeting their timelines of using 100% biodegradable plastic for packaging ready-to-eat products.

A lot of initiatives have been put in place to reduce, collect and recycle multi-layered plastic (MLP). Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles used for beverage products are being re-purposed to make apparels, footwear, furniture, etc, by many companies.

Sharukh Khan, executive director – operations, Dabur India, said the company is aiming to become a plastic waste neutral company by March 2021. “This is being done by collecting, processing and recycling 20,000 metric tonnes (mt) of post-consumer plastic waste. With this, the company would be collecting 100% of the plastic waste it generates through its product packaging,” said Khan.

However, players say a clear definition of what is single-use plastic in the Indian context is very crucial. According to industry players, items like plastic carry bags, plates, glasses, cups, cutlery, straws and take-away food containers and thermocol plates fall in this category.

They said the problem can largely be solved by embedding the concept of 5R – refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and recover.

“It starts with educating consumers to avoid plastic use, if possible. The crucial step in achieving recycling or recovery is an effective source segregation. The challenge is mainly in terms of lack of the required infrastructure. The regulators should focus on systems for effective collection, recycle and recovery. A suitable extended producer responsibility (EPR) framework involving all the relevant stakeholders will help. We have allocated Rs 3.25 crore for EPR this year along with a lot of management time and attention. We have set our packaging targets for 2024-25. For our India operations, we will reduce packaging consumption per unit of production by 20% from 2017-18. We will also ensure that 100% of the packaging material we use is recyclable, reusable, recoverable or compostable,” said Rakesh Sinha, head – global supply chain, manufacturing and IT, Godrej Consumer Products Ltd.

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