At one tenth the plastic consumption of the US, India will be requiring a lot of it as it grows. In fact, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan is on record with a target to take India’s consumption from 11 to 20 kg per capita by 2022.
But with cities and landfills already groaning under the weight of plastic waste, not to mention the havoc being wreaked on water bodies, and related ecosystems, we urgently need a national recycling movement too. The news is not too bad here. When it comes to PET,( or Polyethylene terephthalate) a huge category of plastics used mainly for making bottles, India has done quite well. Against a global average of 14%, India might be recycling as much as 90% of its PET production, according to a study by the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). That figure places the country ahead of advanced nations like the US and Japan, besides most of Europe. However, this means lower value plastics get away, all of over 6000 tonnes per DAY.
To manage our transition to the inevitable higher use of the material, it is critical that we have a national waste management policy, which will not only tackle plastics, but also related by equally critical areas of disposal of batteries and more.
Food for thought. According to Dr Mangesh Nandgopal, Scientist at the polymer science and engineering division of the National Chemical Laboratory, ‘the entire Indian cricket team’s apparel for the 2015 world cup was made from recycled plastic”. This is because most o the recycled PET is converted to polyester fibre, used for making apparel, among other things.