“If all the plastic waste generated in 2020 could be melted down, it could pave a road 30 feet wide and more than two inches thick all the way to the moon”

– Jenna Jambeck, Professor of Environmental Engineering, University of Georgia

Single-use plastics such as labels, cutlery, straws, stirrers, and other packaging (such as those for food, beverage, personal care, and home care products) pose a significant challenge with respect to their efficient and environmentally safe waste management. As the issue is industry-wide, there is a definite need to build a multi-stakeholder platform to address this. The India Plastics Pact (IPP) with its pedigree, experience, and expertise is poised to be the voice of reason and consensus on this critical thematic. While a lot of measures are implemented by legislative actions, voluntary platforms such as the India Plastics Pact, through its signatory members across the plastics value chain can move faster and create larger impacts.

The Pact creates opportunities for collaborative action that transforms the way plastic packaging is made, used, and disposed; and to move from a linear system to a circular plastics economy in India. The signatories of the India Plastics Pact work collaboratively towards four ambitious time-bound targets.
Collaborative Action Groups (CAGs) formed within the Pact, aim to achieve specific goals under each target of the Pact. CAG 1 focuses on Target 1 of the Pact, which is to compile a list of unnecessary or problematic plastic packaging items, and to take measures to address them through redesign and innovation. Such items are usually single use in nature.

In July 2022, the Government of India (GoI) banned the use of certain single-use plastic commodities. Many items banned by GoI formed the Target 1 list of other Plastics Pacts. Staying true to their commitment, the signatories of the India Plastics Pact agreed to go beyond the government-identified list and work on an ‘Ambition List’, to achieve more than what other Pacts have initially agreed to do.

To account for differing opinions and views on what might be ‘problematic and unnecessary’ items, an objective process was developed, which is presented in the image below:

The decision tree is expanded below:

If an item met one or more of the criteria in the decision tree, it was classified as unnecessary or problematic.

The list of items thus identified was the Ambition List, and includes:

  1. PVC bottles, PVC pallet wraps, PVC shrink sleeves, and labels
  2. All polystyrene (PS) packaging (including EPS)
  3. Oxo-degradable plastic packaging
  4. PET-G labels / sleeves on PET bottles
  5. Biodegradable polymer packaging not compliant with Indian Standard (IS 17899 T:2022)
  6. Plastic packaging not detectable in automated sorting systems using near infrared detection

More items may be reviewed and considered for inclusion to the Ambition List. Such items which require further evidence are placed on an ‘under review’ list. Currently, ‘PET-G labels / sleeves on packaging other than PET bottles’ is on this list.

Working towards achieving the goals of Target 1 requires a concrete set of actions, and the next steps for the Pact and its Signatories would be to:

  • develop an action plan to phase out the use of items mentioned in the Ambition List
  • work collaboratively with signatories of the Pact to identify and carry out solutions fitting to the Indian context
  • periodically reviewing the Ambition List to ensure that it remains relevant to the Indian context, and to add more items to the list, as seen fit
  • support, advice, guide, and share knowledge by working collaboratively with other Plastic Pacts; communicate the Pact’s progress to relevant stakeholders and beneficiaries; and to provide guidance towards progress to non-members

Read more about unnecessary or problematic plastic packaging and how Pact members aim to address the issue in India.

About the Pact
The India Plastics Pact (IPP) is a pre-competitive partnership platform that works to reform the way plastic packaging is designed, consumed, disposed, and recycled. The Pact aims to transform the current linear system to a circular economy for plastics across the plastics value chain, where they are valued and don’t pollute the environment.
Do you want to make a change and create a circular plastics economy?
Write to us to takeaction@indiaplasticspact.org and visit us at www.indiaplasticspact.org to learn more about the India Plastics Pact, its members, and the actions taken.

Abhishek Sahay
CAG 1 Chair, India Plastics Pact 
Head, Public & Government Affairs and CSR, Mondelez India