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Swaran Singh Grover of Kellogs India speaks at the VDMA recycling conference in Mumbai on 6 December 2023 Photo PSA

A one-day conference hosted by VDMA – the German association of mechanical and plant engineering companies – in Mumbai brought together representatives from leading consumer brands, converters and recycling technology, and machine manufacturers. The focus was the circular economy, a concept rapidly gaining traction in a world grappling with environmental challenges and especially the challenges of plastic packaging.

The day began with a session where sustainability took center stage. Representatives from companies such as Kellogg’s, Pureplay Skin Sciences, and L’Oreal talked about a greener future. Swaran Singh Grover of Kellogg’s talked about Kellogg’s Green Horizon while Sridhar J of Pureplay Skin Sciences spoke on the circular economy from the point of view of packaging, design and technology. 

Manish Patil of L’Oreal informed the audience about his company’s vision for sustainable packaging, its substantial achievement of initial goals and the tools to measure progressive innovations and commitments for sustainability and recyclability. He concluded by asking for industry-wide cooperation and collaboration.

Thorsten Kuhmann managing director of the VDMA at the Mumbai plastics packaging and sustainability event on 6 December 2023
Thorsten Kuhmann managing director of the VDMA at the Mumbai plastics packaging and sustainability event on 6 December 2023

The conference then delved deeper into the practicalities of circularity, with two concurrent tracks exploring plastic waste management and processing of regranulates. In the first track, experts tackled the issue of plastic waste, discussing innovative solutions for collection, handling, and recycling. Technologies for processing PET bottles, efficient material handling systems, advanced washing techniques, and sophisticated sorting methods were all presented, offering a roadmap for tackling this growing problem.

Meanwhile, the second track explored the world of regranulates. Speakers from Huhtamaki, Hosokawa Alpine, and Reifenhauser showcased their latest advancements in circularity for flexible packaging and PCR blown films, demonstrating the potential of these technologies to create closed-loop systems.

Rashi Agrawal of Banyan Nation speaks at the VDMA event in Mumbai on 6 December 2024
Rashi Agrawal of Banyan Nation speaks at the VDMA event in Mumbai on 6 December 2024

After the lunch break, the discussions resumed in the same format. The focus shifted to the specific processes of regranulation and processing, with experts from Banyan Nation Recycling, Coperion, EREMA Group, KraussMaffel, and Arburg/Unimark Hi-Tech Solutions sharing their insights. Techniques for regranulating PET and various other plastics were presented, alongside innovative extrusion technologies for producing high-quality compounds from recycled materials. Similarly, the potential of injection molding solutions for circular economy applications sparked the imagination, showcasing a future where sustainable products are not just possible, but readily attainable.

A key takeaway came from Rashi Agrawal of Banyan Nation in response to a question about scaling up India’s plastic packaging recycling industry. She said, “More brands need to come up to speed on using recycled resins that can be laterally used. It’s really up to the brands to understand the issues and maybe the recycling industry will get a lift from the regulations and compliances as they have a more profound effect next year, and in 2025. On our side, we are expanding and have already convinced some of the leading brands keen to meet their announced commitments. We are even seeing some of the same containers coming back to us which contain our recycled resins – for the third or fourth time.”

Banyan Nation is one of the partners of the PACK.Nxt conference in Mumbai on 18 January 2024 at the Lalit Hotel. Its co-founder and CEO, Mani Vajipey, will address and moderate sessions on the use of recycled resins for flexible and rigid packaging.

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