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Experts discuss the Circular economy and Recycling of Beverage Cartons

Action Alliance for Recycling Beverage Cartons (AARC), 3R WASTE foundation and United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) Japan, Urban update and All India Institute of Local Self Government joined forces on 6th June 2022 to promote an integrated approach to address the issues and opportunities in the recycling of beverage cartons and plastic packaging. During the webinar conducted by AARC, 3R Waste foundation and UNCRD on “Recycling Beverage Cartons and Plastic Packaging in Circular economy”, several industry stakeholders along with waste management partners, recycling partners and academicians where they made their submission on improving the waste management eco-system.

The primary objective of the webinar was to cascade awareness on segregation of waste and disseminate information amongst different target groups on Circular Economy and Beverage carton recycling. During the session, industry stakeholders highlighted the encouraging role, technologies in segregation of wastes and recycling of beverage cartons. Earth is facing a triple planet emergency and the ecosystem cannot cope up with our rising demands. One must recognize that end consumers and infrastructure both have a role in waste business success.

Dr. Kulwant Singh, Former Regional Advisor Asia UN-HABITAT and the CEO of 3R WASTE Foundation moderated the webinar. The eminent panelists of the webinar were Mr. Choudhury Rudra Charan Mohanty, Environment Programme Coordinator, UNCRD-DSDG/UNDESA, Mr Gyan Prakash Misra, Senior advisor (Waste management), Mosaic Advanced Solutions, Prof. Sadhan K Ghosh, President, ISWMAW, Mr. SN Umakanth, Chief Manager, WOW programme, ITC, Ms. Paramita Datta Dey, Head Waste unit, NIUA, Mr. Sanjiv Kumar, Head, Re Sustainability.

Mr. Choudhury Rudra Charan Mohanty, Environment Programme Coordinator, UNCRD DSDG/UNDESA stated that beverage cartons are the one of the resource efficient packaging. He expressed that we can move towards a Zero waste society by active coordination from Govt, WMA, End users, Companies etc. Beverage cartons are much more efficient in terms of resource efficiency as well as recycling as compared to other formats and hence have a promise to play a bigger role in the circular economy. He also stated that 3R also means resilience and how we manage resources will define resilience. He asserted that affordable solutions and technologies are now available for recycling Beverage Cartons as well as Plastics.

Prof. Sadhan K Ghosh, President, ISWMAW discussed the path for recirculation of plastic packaging and its benefit in the economy. Prof Ghosh asserted that for post-consumer waste the primary responsibility is with the consumer- who should segregate and responsibility dispose of the waste as there is no alternative to source segregation for efficient waste management. Different types of technologies for recycling plastics were briefly discussed. He also stated that to address the problem of waste in the country, reuse and recycling of Beverage cartons is the solution. The prevailing concept of EPCD2 was presented – Extract, produce, Consume, Dispose, & deplete and he highlighted how we cannot continue with the same model of EPCD2 if we want to progress towards a circular economy.

Mr Gyan Prakash Misra, Senior advisor (Waste management), Mosaic Advanced Solutions discussed the difference between linear economy and circular economy and its benefits to the environment as a whole. He also emphasized on the collection and segregation of plastic waste and focused his presentation on 4R’s – Reducing, Recycling, Renewing and Responsibility. The emphasis on Renewing and Responsibility was worth noting. He also noticed that the paper based packaging has potential to be recycled 5-7 times.

Ms. Paramita Datta Dey, Head Waste unit, NIUA discussed sustainable packaging and how it can lower the environmental impact and ecological footprint. Ms. Dey educated on Reusable, Recyclable and Reduced packaging as new practices for adopting the packaging solutions. She cited examples of several packaging materials made from natural materials such as mushroom, bagasse, stone paper, seaweed etc. She also stated that Paper based cartons can be recycled and up scaled 5-7times.

Mr. Sanjiv Kumar, Head, Re Sustainability talked about the presence of integrated recycling services like E- waste, paper recycling, C&D recycling, End of vehicle recycling etc. in the country. He briefly discussed the Collection, Processing, Post-Processor of waste. He also reiterated the promise that digital technologies bring in the waste management space.

Mr. SN Umakanth, Chief Manager, WOW programme, ITC discussed the overall scenario of WOW- Wellbeing out of waste and drew attention to scale of garbage generation, and how recyclables dumped in the garbage causing underutilization of resources. He shared the behavior change program WOW and how emphasis on waste segregation addresses the waste management and resource recovery issues. Critical data that as a country we send valuable paper waste of appx. 25000 MT per day to garbage/ landfills, while we import large quantities of paper waste using foreign currency highlights gaps in appropriate handling of paper waste and missing a big economic opportunity.

Dr. Kulwant Singh while moderating the discussions highlighted that Beverage Carton recyclability effort is aligned to Circular Economy.

Dr. Praveen Aggarwal, CEO of AARC concluded the webinar by thanking the panelists and again emphasizing about the effectiveness of Beverage Cartons and its recyclability which makes it one of the best packaging solution for Food and beverage industry while informing that even now over 50% of the Beverage Cartons are collected and recycled. He summarized the key points of the webinar and shared the learnings from the esteemed panel who presented their expert comments.

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