United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) Japan, Action Alliance for Recycling Beverage Cartons (AARC), 3R Waste Foundation and International Academy of Environmental Sanitation and Public Health organized a webinar on the “Redefining Multi-Layer Packaging Plastic Waste (Category III) on 23rd November 2022. This was a much-needed discussion on recyclability and ways to rationalize value chain to tap the environmental value. The webinar had a full house of 10 panelists who are experts in the areas of environment, sustainability, waste management, recycling, and circular economy etc. Dr. Kulwant Singh, CEO, 3R Waste Foundation moderated the session and shared his opinion on importance of minimizing emissions from end-of-life waste management practices.
AARC resonated the need to prioritize and ensure appropriate recycling, and specific definition of variety of plastic packaging materials. An early step even within the current Extended Producer Responsibility framework can focus on fast tracking plastic credit exchange in a manner that recycling material is difficult, yet valuable materials is incentivized and end of life is disincentivized.
Based on personal experience, Mr. Ashish Jain, Director, IPCA, shared an instance where the entire waste management value chain got distracted in the absence of clear definitions, that were well stabilized over the last 10-15 years and thus, hampered the pace towards circularity.
Dr. Suneel Pandey, Senior Director, TERI, expressed that regulation for encouraging 3R, circular economy practices can speed up the effort to reduce end of life combustion.
Other panelists included Dr. NB Mazumdar, Chairman, International Academy of Environmental Sanitation & Public Health; Ms. Paramita Datta Dey, Head Waste Unit, NIUA; Dr. Praveen Aggarwal, CEO, AARC; Ms. Sahithi Snigdha, Director, Waste Ventures India; Mr. Tushar K. Bandhopadhyay, Technical Director, Indian Centre for Plastics in the Environment; Mr. Abhinav Ramaria, Head, Programs & Operations, Aspire Labs; Mr. Mangesh Gupte, COO, AARC; Mr. Saurabh Jindal, Trashcon.
The panelists recommended clearer separate identification of materials to help in developing and stabilizing collection ecosystem. They substantiated their recommendation, with an example of paper-based beverage cartons, which have far higher recyclability compared to few other typical multi layered packaging materials, also citing the long effort on alternative ways the cartons are being recycled in India.
Other key take-aways from the webinar include, nurturing technology development for material specific solutions, working more closely on recycling targets, having more articulated category classification for recycling diverse materials which is currently clubbed under the MLP Category III.
Broadly, the need for more evolved EPR Policy prescriptions that can recognize, promote, help sustain circular economy solutions was expressed. With collaborative stakeholder consultations, we can promote cross-learning from the regional policies and enhance knowledge on the critical environment aspects that are crucial for the future of society. This will also add value in terms of increasing circularity and resource efficiency policies.