I believe that everything comes from the earth and goes back to the earth and no one will definitely want it to go as a landfill, right?
If we have to live and grow sustainably, then the only way forward is through collaboration and supporting a lifestyle in perfect harmony with the universe. Experts agree that the proliferation of plastics is a huge menace (and a significant threat to biodiversity), and needs to be tackled speedily and across the board. While we have a long way to go, it is heartening to see that many stakeholders in India, including the government, large companies, small companies, common people, etc., are finding innovative ways to tackle plastic pollution. And it is not only about the wise and old people who are taking these actions; small kids are also working towards this initiative. Have you ever come across the advertisement of #BinBoy? If not, do watch him on YouTube before going ahead. In this article, we will look at the efforts made, and the results achieved by some of the stakeholders.
Initiatives Taken by Large Companies – Exemplar – Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL)
Mantra: Less Plastic. Better Plastic. No Plastic.
Have you ever imagined refilling Surf Excel, Comfort and Vim like getting coffee out of a vending machine? Yes, I have heard of HUL’s “SMART FILL” effort, enabling consumers to reuse their old plastic packaging. Do have a look on YouTube at how HUL’s “Smart Fill” machine works. Also, have you considered how you might tackle plastic pollution with a small package of cosmetics in your hand? If not, then look at these initiatives of HUL. It has discontinued the usage of plastic overwraps from ‘Glow & Lovely’ bb packs and Pond’s ‘White Beauty’. HUL has made all soap wrappers and shampoo sachet packaging with recycle-ready materials, and soap stiffeners and cartons are made free of plastic. HUL’s Vim liquid bottles have 50% recycled PET (RPET), while Surf Excel Matic liquid employs 100% bio-degradable actives in composition and 50% recycled plastic in packaging. It has initiated the use of 80% RPET in blister packs for personal care brands like Pepsodent toothbrushes and Vaseline lip care products, and RHDPE (25% recycled HDPE) in personal care bottles like Tresemmé, Sunsilk, Vaseline lotions, Surf Excel laundry liquid, and Comfort fabric conditioner 1. All of these initiatives will significantly lead to a more sustainable and innovative way of tackling plastic pollution.
Initiatives Taken by Small Companies – Exemplar – Areca Leaf Plate and Cutlery Making
Nowadays, when you hold wooden coloured plate/cutlery in your hand while enjoying your food, have you thought of it that it can just be some leaf? Yes, you rightly read it, but I’m not talking about some ordinary leaf. It’s an areca leaf! The world is concerned about products made of plastics, polymers and paper; however, areca leaf plates are the ideal alternative. These plates are produced using a 100% natural process. Farms provide the fallen areca leaf for collection. The areca leaf’s sheath is cleansed, submerged in water for about 15 minutes and then dried in the shade for 30 minutes. Thereafter, using suitably shaped machines, they are compressed into various shapes.
1Hindustan Unilever Limited (16 February 2022), Ways we’re helping tackle plastic waste, HUL, https://www.hul.co.in/news/2022/ways-were-helping-tackle-plastic-waste
The advantages of areca plates/cutlery are manifold. They are –
Initiatives Taken by Government of India
The Indian government is also taking many steps towards tackling plastic pollution which we all should be proud of! Let’s examine each one in turn.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs introduced the countrywide awareness campaign “Clean and Green” on World Environment Day in June 2022. Urban Local Bodies around the nation sponsored awareness campaigns as part of this effort to discourage the use of single-use plastics and promote environmental improvement 2.
In anticipation of the phase-out of some single-use plastic items starting on 1 July and the mandate to raise the thickness of plastic carry bags to above 120 microns starting from 31 December, the Union Environment Ministry has released Plastic Waste Management (Second Amendment) Rules, 2022 3.
In order to reduce, reuse, and recycle plastics across the value chain, corporations, governments, and NGOs have joined forces under the ambitious India Plastic Pact effort. The Pact intends to convert India’s present linear plastics economy into a circular one that will –
2 Pragativadi News Service (5 June 2022), Govt To Launch ‘Clean And Green’ Campaign On World Environment Day, Pragativadi, https://pragativadi.com/govt-to-launch-clean-and-green-campaign-on-world-environment-day/#:~:text=Under%20this%20campaign%2C%20Urban%20Local,Union%20Territories%20in%20this%20direction.
3 Nandi J. (14 July 2022), Environment ministry issues plastic waste management rules, Hindustan Times, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/environment-ministry-issues-plastic-waste-management-rules-101657795556481.html
Source: India Plastics Pact, https://www.indiaplasticspact.org
The following green efforts for effective plastic waste management were introduced by the Union Environment Minister, along with the awareness mascot ‘Prakriti’ 5 :
Initiatives Taken by MSME: Exemplar – Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC)
4 India Plastics Pact, https://www.indiaplasticspact.org
5 Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (5 April 2022), Union Environment Minister Launches Awareness Mascot ‘Prakriti’& Green Initiatives for Effective Plastic Waste Management, Press Information Bureau Delhi, https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1813806
We all have seen plastic bags a lot, but have you ever seen plastic paper? KVIC successfully registered a patent for its innovative Plastic-mixed Handmade Paper, which was created to lessen the threat of plastic in the environment. The plastic-mixed handmade paper was created as part of Project REPLAN (REducing PLAstic from Nature). The first initiative of its sort in India uses plastic trash that has been de-structured, degraded, diluted, and mixed with paper pulp to create handmade paper, reducing the amount of plastic waste that enters the environment. Handmade paper manufactured from recycled plastic waste is expected to accomplish the twin goals of preserving the environment and generating long-term employment. 6
Initiatives Taken by Education Sector – Exemplar – Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai
We usually see mountains of plastic garbage at the waste dumping ground, but can you ever envision a structure constructed of plastic? Thanks to Thiagarajar College of Engineering that we have such creativity. It has also secured a patent for plastone blocks and tiles that are created from recycled plastics of all kinds, including non-recyclable packaging materials. They may be produced from recycled thin plastics and any kind of packaging material, including those used to package cookies and chocolates. These plastones may be created without the need of concrete, water, cement, or sand by combining plastic waste with stone. These plastones may be used in place of cement blocks and other building supplies.7 The tiles could support enormous weights and serve as paver blocks for both indoor and outdoor applications. 8
These initiatives represent a first step towards a country free of pollution, not the end of plastic pollution! It is crucial to discover the best fit-for-purpose solutions that bring together the required stakeholders to create at-scale plastic waste management infrastructure and recycling systems that will not only assist decrease plastic waste leakage into the environment but also open up new recycling opportunities. So, let’s join hands together and make our nation more sustainable!
6Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (5 August 2021), KVIC’s Unique Plastic – Mixed Handmade Paper gets Patent for Invention to Recycle Waste Plastic, Press Information Bureau Delhi, https://www.pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1742710
7 Sivarajah P. (25 August 2020), Madurai college gets patent for plastone blocks and tiles, Madurai News- Times of India,
8The Hindu (24 August 2020), TCE receives patent, The Hindu, https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/tce-receives-patent/article32430676.ece