Mumbai: A study by an international NGO has revealed that packaging of branded edible items is responsible for generating a huge chunk of non-recyclable plastic waste in the country.
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternative (GAIA) conducted a 15-city audit and released its report in May. It revealed that the biggest polluter is branded, single-use plastic used in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), which accounts for 26.8 percent of all plastic waste.
Waste was collected from 250 sites: Households, ecologically fragile zones such as beaches and rivers, as well as mountainous regions. The study found that as much as 48 percent of India’s plastic waste consists of multilayer packaging, which cannot be recycled. Almost 90 percent of plastic packaging is used to wrap food. Multilayer packaging is typically used for edible items such as chips, chocolates and other snacks. These items of packaging are not collected by waste pickers as they have no recyclable value.
“Irresponsible human behaviour such as littering and inadequate collection and handling systems in the developing countries are touted as the reasons,” said Pratibha Sharma, national coordinator of GAIA India. “However, our waste-and-brand audit results from India, Indonesia, and the Philippines have underscored the central role that multinational companies play in perpetuating the plastic-pollution crisis.”
“We believe that the crisis is spawned primarily by corporate practices and strategies, which keep pushing single-use disposables and low-value plastic packaging onto consumers to improve their profit margins,” she added.