Globally, plastic pollution is a critical environmental issue. However, the crisis is not new, and there are many initiatives at different scales underway to help improve the management of plastics.

The need of the hour is to have stakeholders from across the plastic packaging value chain working towards forging a cross value public-private partnership to stop plastic leakage into the environment with a strong emphasis on catalyzing the transition to a circular economy. With the launch of the India Plastics Pact on 3rd September 2021, a collaboration between WWF India and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), 31 organizations have signed up and are united by four ambitious targets to work towards building a circular economy for plastics which will reimagine the way plastic packaging is designed, used, discarded and reintroduced. The four targets for India Plastics Pact are:

  1. Define a list of unnecessary or problematic plastic packaging and items and take measures to address them through redesign and innovation
  2. 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable and recyclable
  3. 50% of plastic packaging to be effectively recycled
  4. 25% average recycled content across all plastic packaging

To kick-start action, the India Plastics Pact Secretariat (housed at CII and WWF India) developed a 100-day plan which sets out the priority actions for the first 100 days of the India Plastics Pact. One of the key activities included setting up of the Advisory Committee to provide oversight, advice and insights to the Secretariat on guiding the successful delivery of the India Plastics Pact targets.The first meeting of the India Plastics Pact Advisory Committee was organized on 18th November 2021. The Committee will:

  1. provide input and guidance on the work programme and its outputs, including:
    1. assessing progress and risks towards achieving 2030 targets
    2. identifying priority areas of activity to ensure effective delivery
    3. ensuring effective business member engagement and communication
    4. securing appropriate level of funding
  2. maximize value proposition for the stakeholders
  3. champion the work of the India Plastics Pact and act as ambassadors of the initiative to maximize its impact and advocate uptake of good practices and guidance.

The Pact has also initiated technical projects to strengthen the data and information on various aspects of plastic packaging. The three technical projects, led by WRAP, are in key areas of

  1. informal waste sector,
  2. small format sachet packaging, and
  3. food grade recycled PET (rPET) in packaging

Apart from that, inputs from the Member and Supporter organizations of the Pact were sought to create the UKRI Challenge Statements on research and innovation. This was released on 9th November by WRAP and UKRI as the International Circular Plastics Flagship Competition worth £1.7 million for organizations who can demonstrate demand driven innovation to reduce plastic pollution. The challenge statements were synthesized from the discussions with India, South Africa, Kenya and Chile and will help support Plastics Pacts in the respective countries to meet their targets and move towards a more circular economic and sustainable approach to plastics. More information about the UKRI Grants Competition is provided on the UKRI website.

As part of the programme of engagement within the India Plastics Pact, the first capacity-building session for the Pact signatories was organized on 11th November. The webinar titled ‘The India Plastics Pact: Lessons from the UK’s experience’ provided an opportunity for the Member and Supporter organizations to interact with Ms. Helen Bird, Strategic Engagement Manager at WRAP and Ms. Vikki Scott, Plastics Pact Delivery Manager at WRAP. More workshops and webinars on issues relevant to the Indian context are being planned and organized in the coming months.

Collaborative Action Groups (CAGs) are the foundation of every Plastics Pact, as that is where stakeholders from across the plastics value chain work together on common challenges, hold detailed discussions and undertake collaborative actions towards defining and shaping the targets. The IPP Secretariat has begun setting up CAGs to work on specific areas of interest aligned with the four targets. Currently, nominations for a CAG on Target #1 “Defining list of problematic plastic items” is being sought within the Member and Supporter organizations. Work on a CAG focusing on Target#3 “50% of plastic packaging to be effectively recycled” has also begun.

The IPP Secretariat has begun developing a Roadmap for the Pact, which will act as a guiding star for all the Members and Supporters by illustrating how they will collectively approach each of the four targets. The Roadmap will focus on the key outcomes for each target, along with corresponding actions and timelines. The IPP Secretariat has also begun developing a robust data reporting framework which will help to better

  1. understand issues: such as amounts, and type of plastic produced, used and disposed. This can help determine what action is required.
  2. prioritize interventions: to focus resources on interventions that can create the most impact.
  3. monitor progress: to measure and determine whether the Pact’s targets are being met.

The framework of the India Plastics Pact will facilitate an enabling environment to bring about a paradigm shift through the plastics value chain. It allows action to be taken at the scale required to create an impact in India. We encourage more businesses and key stakeholders joining us in the exciting journey. To know more about the India Plastics Pact, including the names of Members and Supporters, and to join, please visit the Pact’s website. A short video on the India Plastics Pact is available on this link.