Marico
L to R- Shereen Bhan, Raghunath Mashelkat, Harsh Mariwala and Amit Chandra at MIF. Photo PSA

Marico Innovation Foundation on 11 January 2023 announced the launch of a first-of-its-kind playbook that can be the key to unlocking latent opportunities to address the swelling global challenge that plastic waste presents. The announcement came at a lively event at the Oberoi Hotel in New Delhi with a discussion moderated by Shereen Bhan with the three industry leaders who helped to bring it about – Raghunath Mashelkar, Amit Chandra and Harsh Mariwala who are all part of the governing council of the Marico Innovation Foundation.

Mariwala said at the event that he started the Foundation in 2003, long before the current opprobrium for plastic and plastic packaging had reached our shores. He also said of the playbook and its search for innovators and their presentation on the day was “just a start.”

The work of the past months by the MIF and the release of the playbook and the recognition of the first batch of innovators with plausible solutions for developing a circular economy many not be the beginning of the work in this area but it must be seen as a conscious milestone in bringing together the large energy that will be needed to take on the complexity of the problem. It recognizes the need for facts and data, documentation, social engagement, technology, economics, policy and investments.

The report titled ‘Innovation in Plastic: The Potential and Possibilities’ provides actionable solutions across the plastics value chain which can aid and address the challenges of plastic waste management for India in the short, medium and long term – from collection, to sorting, to recycling and also providing viable alternatives to plastics. Ankur Warikoo presented the innovations featured in the report in an interactive session to the audience.

Marico Innovation Foundation collaborated with Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Praxis Global Alliance as knowledge partners to develop the playbook. The partners assisted in identifying the challenges created by plastic waste at macro and commercial level as well as outlining opportunities and recommendations in the plastic waste management space while dispelling myths, especially on bioplastics. The research methodology consisted of in-depth assessment with corporate leaders, start-up ecosystem players, industry experts, and scientists. 

Raghunath Mashelkar, Emeritus chairperson of the Governing Council of Marico Innovation Foundation and Jury chair said, “This timely report succinctly captures not only the problem of plastic waste but also proposes very imaginative solutions that can not only stand to benefit our nation but the world. The report is a comprehensive playbook for both public and private sectors alike on how plastics can be reimagined and repurposed now and in the future.” 

The playbook also features 15 innovations that address plastic waste with their solutions. The report also lists models of communities and cities that have addressed the plastic waste challenge through a host of innovative initiatives.

Speaking on the initiative, Harsh Mariwala, founder of Marico Innovation Foundation & Chairman of Marico said, “We understand the critical need to build an ecosystem that can help deliver innovative solutions for global problems. It is why Marico Innovation Foundation (MIF) came into existence, and has been at the forefront of India’s innovation story. Plastics were ripe for this intervention. The playbook is the first step to help evolve an ecosystem for innovation within this sector. MIF is committed to create a long lasting and meaningful change and will be actively involved in helping innovations in this endeavor, thrive.”

Amit Chandra, Honorary chairperson – Governing Council – Marico Innovation Foundation and Chairperson, Bain Capital India Office said that some of the innovations featured in the playbook are not only “India-first but also world-first” with their potential to solve for plastic waste management, circularity, replacing plastics with more sustainable solutions that diverse stakeholders including governments and businesses can benefit from. He added “With the right ecosystem support these innovations hold the promise of delivering viable game changing solutions that could reframe the future for generations to come.”

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