Recycling is the only answer to flexible packaging waste – Ashok Chaturvedi

India needs thousands of plastic waste collection centers

flexible packaging
Ashok Chaturvedi, chairman of packaging major Uflex at the company stand at the 9th Elite Conference in Mumbai on 5 September 2022

The only solution to tackling multilayer flexible packaging waste is to recycle it, Ashok Chaturvedi, chairman of packaging major Uflex, told the 9th edition of Speciality Films & Flexible Packaging Global Summit 2022 in Mumbai in his keynote on the morning of 5 September. The summit was held on 5-6 September.

The answer to the problem of multilayer flexible packaging is recycling. Whether you use the mechanical or the chemical process, recycling is the answer. If the audience thinks that monomer is the answer to the problem of flexible packaging waste, it is not. A few years down the line, we will realize that using monomers has not reduced waste. Even with monomers, the flexible packaging waste will continue to increase unless we do not recycle it,” Chaturvedi said. 

Chaturvedi stressed that collecting flexible packaging waste is a mammoth task but if the waste can be collected, it can be easily recycled as well. The biggest challenge is to get the waste collected and supplied to recyclers. 

If the flexible packaging waste can be collected then recyclers can make a variety of products out of that waste. And there is a big demand for those products,” he said. Chaturvedi requested the industry stakeholders to help provide raw material, which is the flexible packaging waste, to the recyclers. 

Uflex has set up recycling centers at its manufacturing plants in India. All the waste generated at the plant and also the waste generated in the vicinity of the plants is collected and recycled at these centers. A variety of plastic products are made out of this waste. 

Our request to the authorities is that they should set up collection centers. These centers can be set up in partnership with the private sector as well. India needs thousands of such centers so that flexible packaging waste can be collected and recycled. The recycling part is not a problem, the collection is the issue,” he said.

Uflex’s overseas plants to have recycling centers

After setting up recycling centers at its plants in India, Uflex is now doing the same at its overseas plants. 

You will be glad to know that this October or November, the Poland plant is starting its multilayer flexible packaging waste recycling center. We are starting a center at our Mexico plant. Each center will cost about US$ 25 million. This investment will not go waste and will generate proper EBIDTA for the company. 

Our model is a perfect model and profitable. This model will be profitable in India given that the entrepreneur or the recycler gets the waste. I welcome entrepreneurs to come and visit our recycling plant at the Noida plant,” Chaturvedi said. 

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

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