India’s plastic consumption set to double in a decade

Uflex’s Ashok Chaturvedi at Elite Conference

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Ashok Chaturvedi, chairman and managing director of Uflex
Ashok Chaturvedi, chairman and managing director of Uflex

“The future of plastics is very bright as its consumption is expected to continue to grow,” Ashok Chaturvedi, chairman and managing director of Uflex said at the 8th Speciality Films & Flexible Packaging Global Summit 2019 held in Mumbai on 22-23 August.

“Plastics have a very bright future. They are something that you cannot live without. If you look at India, about 26,000 metric tons of plastic is consumed every day. And the way the growth is being projected, in a decade or so the consumption will double to 50-55,000 metric tons a day. Plastics are not only used in flexible packaging but in various other industries as well,” Chaturvedi said.

He asserted that all kinds of flexible packaging, mono and multilayer, are recyclable, re-processable and then reusable. “There has not been much focus on this aspect but we can successfully recycle, reprocess and re-use all types of flexible packaging waste. Uflex has been recycling all types of flexible packaging in-house waste at its Noida plant. We can make a variety of items out of this waste. You are welcome to the plant and see how we are recycling and reusing plastic waste,” Chaturvedi said.

He said that the lack of focus on recycling has been seen not only in developing countries but also in developed countries. He cited a visit to Poland where he saw that municipal authorities have not been recycling and reusing plastic waste and that the waste was being used to generate energy in cement plants. Similarly, he said that in China, plastic waste is being burnt.

“Burning the waste is not the proper way to get rid of plastic waste. The only real solution is to recycle and reuse the waste. If you can recycle plastic one time, then you can recycle and reuse it ten times,” he said.

Chaturvedi argued that despite the perception problem that flexible packaging is facing, the fact is that there is no other cost-effective alternative which can offer so many advantages. “We just need to make sure we properly recycle and reuse.”

Not only the corporates but, according to Chaturvedi, the government needs to step up and do its bit in helping tackling plastic waste. He said that the authorities need to devise polices which incentivize the use of recycled plastic.

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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