Dolly Mahayan

FMCG companies join hands to protect environment

To address the growing concern of plastic waste in the country, leading consumer product companies, such as Coca-Cola India, PepsiCo India, Bisleri, SC Johnson, Reliance Industries, Varun Beverages, Diageo and Dabur India have taken a step forward to tackle the growing menace. The companies have come together to launch packaging waste management venture 'Karo Sambhav', which focusses on creating a formal eco-system for collection of post-consumer packaging and optimising material recycling processes.

Developed by industry body — Packaging Association for Clean Environment (PACE) over the past year, 'Karo Sambhav' aims to ensure that no recyclable packaging material ends up in landfills by 2025.

FMCG companies, especially beverage firms have been stating that nearly 90 per cent of the PET bottles are recycled and are pushing for keeping the 200 ml bottles out of the products that are likely to be banned.

The project focusses on alignment with the Government’s Swachh Bharat Mission and a zero-waste movement, which enables the utilisation of secondary materials post recycling.

Shahrukh Khan, executive director-operations, Dabur
Shahrukh Khan, executive director-operations, Dabur

Shahrukh Khan, executive director-operations, Dabur India spoke to us about the initiative and said, “We are committed to become a Plastic Waste Neutral company by March 2021 by collecting, processing and recycling 20,000 MT (20 million kgs) of post-consumer plastic waste from across the country. With this, Dabur would be collecting back 100 per cent of the plastic waste that it generates through its product packaging, making it among the first Indian FMCG companies to achieve this feat.”

“It’s an ambitious target, we have already started working towards it. We rolled out the pilot plastic recycling initiative in 2018-19 in six states. This year (in 2019-20), Dabur has extended the Plastic Waste Management initiative to 25 states and we are on course to collect over 12,000 MT of post-consumer plastic waste. In addition, we are also working on reducing the consumption of plastic for packaging,” he added.

We asked brand experts for their take on the initiative and what effect its going to have on the packaging ecosystem.

M G Parameswaran, brand strategist and founder, Brand-Building, says, “There is no alternative for plastic packaging. It is the most cost effective way of packaging goods and has been a boon to both consumers and marketers. But given the indiscriminate way in which it is disposed, it poses a huge environmental challenge. The new PACE movement with 30 signatories is about managing the way plastics are collected post-use and recycled.”

M G Parameswaran
M G Parameswaran

He further adds, “India has a fairly good record as far as recycling of plastics is considered. But the problem, I think, is with multi layer laminates used for packaging chips, shampoos, etc. PACE needs to figure out how they will endeavour to recycle this. Pet bottles are recyclable, but the extent to which they are recycled needs to be evaluated and increased. PACE will have to incentivise the recycling industry so that we make it worthwhile to collect back and recycle these plastics. PACE also needs to examine the decentralised way of recycling, so that plastics are collected locally and recycled.”

According to Dimple Gupta, director, Strategic Brand Consultants defines Karo Sambhav as a great initiative and would one that would definitely increase awareness around the issue. She says, “The participating brands would be seen as socially responsible and caring. The movement will make some impact for sure but what will be the long term effect of initiative? Only time can tell.”

She believes, “Consumers expect brands to do it all and are often not willing to share the burden. Brands will need to think of some lateral health benefit of 'no plastic packaging', which gives consumer a tangible reason to pay for the brand and even pay more for a 'safe packaging’.”

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