Come October 2 and the Union government is likely to announce a ban on single-use plastic products. This is expected to impact most industries since this forms part of packaging and hence linked to all industries directly or indirectly. Currently, most people seem to be seeking clarity on nuances around what qualifies for single use and what does not, the type of plastics we are talking about and for what usage they are all meant for.
But, banning its usage while is a welcome move to save the environment, it is only one side of the story. Arvind K Singhal, chairman Technopak, leading management consulting firm focusing on retail, feels along with any move to impose a ban, there should also be equal emphasis on recycling and waste management. "Given the size and scale of India we are talking of a need for a very comprehensive waste collection, segregation and waste management eco-system to be in place, which could take multi- billion dollar investment. My guesstimate is that we would be talking of an investment of around $25 billion or Rs 1,50,000 crore," he says.
While there is increased awareness in urban areas, he says, the challenge will be to find a suitable cost effective alternatives in tier II and tier III towns and remote locations.
In a note put out by the Press Information Bureau in May 2018, Harsh Vardhan, the then Union minister for environment, forest and climate change urged people to give up single-use plastic and shared statistics on the magnitude of problem. He was quoted as saying that 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste is generated every day in the country, with 40 per cent plastic waste being uncollected and 60 million tonnes of solid waste generated in one year.
Companies have already started issuing statements about their move in this direction. Amazon India for instance, tells Business Today that "we have been working towards reducing our single use plastic consumption over the last year and we have significantly reduced dependence on this. It constitutes less than 7 per cent of total packaging material and by June 2020, the aim is to completely eliminate single-use plastic in packaging. B year-end any Amazon package received will have no single use plastic but paper instead.