The plastic industry is NO LONGER in denial

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At the Elite Conference on Specialty Films and Flexible Packaging held in September 2017, the plastic industry threatened by the Indian government’s Plastic Waste Control Order of 2016 was still in denial. In answer to a pointed question from the floor about the impending implementation of the PWCO-2016, industry leaders were, in the main, silent, circumspect or in denial. They tried to obfuscate the issue by hoping that the order, like many others, would be diluted or simply go away.

By the time of the PlastIndia exhibition in Gandhinagar in February 2018, some state pollution control boards had begun issuing notices to flexible packaging converters based on the PWCO-2016. The impending Maharashtra state government ban on plastic packaging was on the horizon but there was still no public acknowledgement from the leaders of the plastic and plastic packaging industry of the gravity of the issues that needed to be tackled.

However, these were being addressed or worked on, albeit behind closed doors. The new PWCO-2018 order issued on 27 March 2018 brought relief, stating that almost types of plastic packaging can continue as they simply are because they have an ‘alternate’ use, such as being used for heat energy. Nevertheless, the issue of state government orders, including those of Maharashtra, in spite of some concessions, remain.

The Elite Plus Conference on Injection, Blow, Roto & Pet Molding – leadership on plastic waste and recycling

Happily, the Elite Conference in early July 2018 in Mumbai was more than just a conference on plastic extrusion and molding. Authoritative presentations on the economy, polymers, extrusion and molding technology, packaging design and innovation, plastic waste collection and recycling were made. Moreover, it was clear from the content and tone of the conference that the plastic industry in India is no longer in denial.

Presenters and panellists included Rajkiran Madangopal, the chief operating officer of Banyan Nation, a company that has built a scalable plastic waste collection and up-recycling operation in South India, and Varun Sanghavi, CMO, Maharashtra government. Several speakers including the Denmark-based anthropologist Guari Pathak, made clear that plastic waste collection and recycling is not merely a bad public relations issue but a deeper and more profound trust deficit facing the plastic raw material, brand owner and converting industry. The trust deficit can only be resolved by concerted action with improved materials, separation at source of waste and meaningful recycling and not by the conversion of plastic waste to energy.

It is hoped that the Elite Plus Global Summit 2018 on Speciality Films and Flexible Packaging taking place on 4 and 5 September 2018 in Mumbai will also present concrete actions taken and proven technologies and methods of collecting and recycling plastic waste. As the presentations in the recent plastic extrusion and molding conference indicated, the economy is healthy in the long term even though there may be great volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) on the horizon. It seems that the industry is finding new leadership–a mixture of industrial power and interest combined with youth, global commitment, scientific action and social commitment.

The impact, resilience, and growth of responsible packaging in a wide region are daily chronicled by Packaging South Asia.

A multi-channel B2B publication and digital platform such as Packaging South Asia.is always aware of the prospect of new beginnings and renewal. Its 16-year-old print monthly, based in New Delhi, India has demonstrated its commitment to progress and growth. The Indian and Asian packaging industries have shown resilience in the face of ongoing challenges over the past three years.

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Even given the disruptions of supply chains, raw material prices, and the challenge of responsible and sustainable packaging, packaging in all its creative forms and purposes has significant headroom to grow in India and Asia. Our context and coverage engulf the entire packaging supply chain – from concept to shelf and further – to waste collection and recycling. We target brand owners, product managers, raw material suppliers, packaging designers and converters, and recyclers.

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– Naresh Khanna

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VIANaresh Khanna
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Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.

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