Single-Use Plastic Ban: Impact on Industry and Environment

Environmental sustainability and protection are among the few hot topics which are trending across the globe for many years. Governments of different countries have taken different measures to show their contribution to improve the health of mother nature. Single-use plastics is one of the sources which has a significant role in the degradation of the soil. Talking in terms of numbers, according to Our World in Data, we produce more than 300 million tonnes of plastic every year and out of this, nearly 50% of this is for single-use purposes. Such a huge chunk prevailing in the environment is causing major pollution issues and as a result of which, single-use plastics are gaining a lot of traction across the globe.

Owing to this, the use of single-use plastic is being restricted in numerous regions across the globe. China has planned to curb the use of plastics in major cities by the end of 2020 and completely ban across the nation by 2022. On similar lines, the Indian government is also planning to phase out single-use plastic by 2022. Furthermore, the European parliament is also taking strict measures, they passed a law to ban single-use plastic by 2021. It has also been emphasizing on the fact that by 2025, the plastic bottles should be made of 25% recyclable content, Moreover, by 2029, 90% of them should be recycled.

The majority of items sold in grocery stores across the U.S. use single-use plastic. This government has shown an unclear intent towards curbing its use. Although multiples laws have been passed in major states in the U.S. to ban single-use plastic, however, owing to its interest petrochemical industry, the U.S. sometimes shows an unclear stand on the issue, thereby weakening the global efforts to reduce the plastic pollution.

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In terms of business, the packaging business is the one that will be impacted up to a certain extent. A key step taken by the government of India was the implementation of Extended Producer responsibility (EPR), under which each importer, producer, and owners or the FMCG companies need to take back the plastic waste generated by them. This plastic being collected is being used as an alternative to fossil fuels in the kiln.

One of the key problems which are much plastic is to be taken back, which is proving to be a major hurdle in implementing this scheme. Furthermore, according to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FCCI), chips and confectionery packets PET bottles, garbage bags are among the few of the products which contribute a significant share in the plastic waste produced in India. Moreover, according to the All India Plastic Manufacturers Association. India has nearly 30,000 plastic making units, more than 2000 exporters, and nearly 4 million people employed in this industry. So, it won’t be easy to ban until a new substitute is not found.

In order to replace these plastics bio-based paper, fiber, polymer, wood and silicones are being introduced in the industry for packaging purposes so as to initiate this desired shift. Shift towards shrink films and stand up pouches is expected to increase over the next few year as a sustainable packaging option. IHS market a London based data service provider predicts that the production of bio-degradable plastics as an alternate packaging material is expected to increase by around 15 percentage point annually between 2020-2022. Such paradigm shift is expected to bring necessary changes in the packaging industry in the near future.

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Companies need to find alternate packaging solutions to keep up with the supply-demand equilibrium. They need to amend its packaging value chain for better adaptability to this new change. Companies such as Flipkart have taken initiatives such as reducing the use of bubble wraps, the use of paper shreds, and replacing airbags with carton waste shredded material.

Zomato claimed that it is working towards using tamper-proof packaging which is bio-degradable. Furthermore, Amazon India announced that it will eliminate single-use plastics from June 2020. All such measures are proving path-breaking for the packaging industry alongside helping the mother nature to heal and become sustainable.

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