Huhtamaki Foundation sets up plastic recycling plant in India

Huhtamaki Foundation's CloseTheLoop initiative in Maharashtra

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Huhtamaki Think Circle at Mumbai
Thomasine Kamerling, Suraj Nandakumar, Marco Hilty, Yogesh Bambal and Dr R Rangaprasad

The Huhtamaki Foundation inaugurated its first recycling plant in Khopoli, Maharashtra on 2 May 2022 to help drive circularity for packaging. The site – which is spread across 2,000 square meters – will recycle about 1,600 kilograms of post-consumer used flexible plastic waste per day from early May as the plant becomes fully operational. The Central Pollution Board of India (2012) estimates that India generates close to 26,000 tons of plastic waste a day and a little over 10,000 tons a day of plastic waste remains uncollected.

The recycling plant was set up with an investment of Rs 9 crore (approximately US$ 1.2 million) as part of the Huhtamaki Foundation’s #CloseTheLoop initiative to tackle post-consumer waste to deliver a valuable secondary resource material. It will process post-consumer waste to create resin to produce refined compounds to be used for household products for consumers in India.

The recycling plant – which is said to be the first of a kind – uses advanced technology to enable the efficient sorting of post-consumer waste, hot washing to remove any contamination, extrusion with extra filtration and deodorisation. This ensures the recycled material can then be used for domestic appliances. The Huhtamaki Foundation worked with the local community and authority in Maharashtra, NGOs, social enterprises, and educational institutes – including Swachh, Stri Mukti Sanghtana, CIPET and ICT – to develop this sustainable plastic waste management system. The plant is fully operational from 2 May 2022.

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“The Huhtamaki Foundation has been set up to work towards the conservation of the environment in India with a focus on driving sustainable packaging solutions and driving forward the circular economy by setting up recycling schemes. It actively advocates for alternate sustainable plastic packaging structures, solutions and ease of recyclability,” said Sunil Bhagwat, trustee of the Huhtamaki Foundation.

“Setting up the recycling plant is the first step that the Huhtamaki Foundation has taken in the direction of driving circularity. Over the next few years, we will strive to set up similar facilities in major geographies in India. We are constantly evaluating newer recycling technologies that could be deployed,” he added.

“The Huhtamaki Foundation is a charitable trust settled by Huhtamaki with a view to support the conservation of the environment in India and carry out activities in relation to plastic waste. Its focus is on sustainable packaging solutions and driving forward the circular economy by setting up, amongst others, programs in environmental sustainability and recyclability, with a view to identify, incubate and invest in opportunities designed to intercept plastics at source by collecting, sorting, processing and recycling waste so that waste gets diverted from the environment into the recycling value chain, furthering the circular economy, thereby benefitting the environment, industries and public at large,” said Marco Hilty, president Flexible Packaging Huhtamaki.

“Food packaging is instrumental in driving access to affordable food for all by ensuring hygiene and safety of food and keeping it edible for longer. Whilst the functionality of packaging can’t be compromised, further improvements in the management of post-consumer packaging waste is essential if we are to close the loop on circularity,” said Thomasine Kamerling, executive vice president of Sustainability and Communications at Huhtamaki.

In addition, closing the loop on waste handling and circularity will help in addressing some of the environmental and social impacts caused by improper waste management. Sorting waste at home is recommended as the way to prevent household waste from ending up at a landfill. By separating organic waste, plastic waste and other dry recyclables, which can be composted, recycled and upcycled, consumers can become part of the solution,” she added.

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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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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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