For the whole sustainability drive to succeed, brand owners need to convince consumers to pay for recycling, Arup Basu, managing director of Huhtamaki PPL said at the 8th Speciality Films & Flexible Packaging Global Summit 2019, which was held in Mumbai on 22-23 August.
“Our packaging waste recycling record is very poor. Brand owners must convey to consumers that they need to pay for the recycling part. Any industry that has a very high recycling element has consumers who understand that they are paying for the product, protection and recycling,” Basu said. “This tearing obsession to give low cost at any cost is going to prove very expensive at the end of the day.”
Basu believes that a much higher recyclability rate can be achieved with all the positive attributes that flexible packaging offers if there is a focus on communication.
“There is work to be done on communication with not only the government but also the consumers,” he said.
Creating enabling environment
According to Basu, certain enabling environment needs to be created which will allow us to recycle post-consumer waste.
“Things can be done quickly if we all put our minds to it. Also, we need to drive behavioral changes to move ahead. India imports a lot of plastic waste, which can be reduced by using in-house waste,” he said.
Blueloop – Waste to resource loop
Huhtamaki Blueloop is a platform aiming to make flexible packaging circular, and introduces a range of recyclable solutions with mono-material structures utilizing PP, PE and paper.
“Blueloop is a clarion call that we as part of industry are getting into the recycling. We have to think about how post-consumer waste gets into the system. And that is where we are looking to get a start. So, we create a viable economic reason for ragpickers to potentially pick up flexible packaging waste, get that added value and take it back into the system,” Basu said.
Huhtamaki PLL is looking out for partners and the company has already received encouraging feedback given it is a noble cause. “Nevertheless, we would like to bring in a bit of professionalism into the whole ecosystem,” Basu added.
Basu said he remains an optimist. “Look we live in India, where we have three great religions which say that even our souls can be recycled. Then why not flexible packaging!”