‘Train, empower, fund local bodies for better waste management’

March 30, 2024, 02:29 PM IST

In an exclusive interview on International Zero Waste Day, Sachin Sharma, founder and director of Gem Enviro Management, speaks with KumKum Dasgupta about what India must do to combat the mounting plastic challenge and how his company is helping top businesses offset their plastic footprint. GEM provides a complete value chain of sustainability services to clients, including collection, recycling, awareness, and recycled merchandise.
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Plastic ban: City to get 100 machines in 15 days to collect PET bottles

Apr 10, 2018, 02:07 IST

Mumbai : As part of the state-wide plastic ban, PET bottle manufacturers and recyclers will set up collection machines in at least 100 spots across Mumbai in the next 15 days. Spots identified for these collection machines are high footfall areas such as the Gateway of India, GirgaumChowpatty, Juhu beach, 10 railway stations, bus stands, malls and cinema halls.

The state government has asked manufacturers to ensure that all PET bottles return to them as part of the extended producers responsibility. So, the manufacturers will be establishing collecting points where consumers can drop empty bottles and get discount coupons or the refundable recycling charge they pay during purchase.

Vimal Kedia, president of PET Packaging Association for Clean Environment (PACE), said, “In the next two weeks, we will be setting up these machines in 100 spots. Each machine costs nearly Rs 4.5 lakh and the association will bear the cost.”

Sachin Sharma of Gem Enviro Management, which is in talks with the Maharashtra government to install plastic collection machines, said, “These machines will be important points where citizens can drop of their bottles. Most of the consumers will not bother to go back to the seller to dispose these bottles, and these collection points will be key to ensure that the bottles are collected and taken back.”
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Rs 2 refund for recycling of 63 paise plastic bottle not sustainable: Manufacturers

Apr 10, 2018, 02:07 IST

MUMBAI: Plastic bottle manufacturers and recyclers have demanded that the state government revise its decision to charge Rs 2 as a refundable deposit in addition to the MRP for packaged drinking water or beverage bottles whose capacity is less than 1 liter. They said the model is not sustainable if a recycler has to pay such a high refund for bottles that do not even cost that much. To exempt smaller bottles from the plastic ban, the state government has asked manufacturers to set up a mechanism wherein consumers get their deposits back if these containers are brought back to recycling machines. To make the system work, manufacturers are tying up with recyclers to install reverse vending machines or crushing machines at public places with high footfall areas.
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Global Recycling Day: Think resource, not waste

March 18, 2018 13:40 IST

To promote action on recycling, recycling associations across the globe are observing the first Global Recycling Day.

According to the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) – oldest and largest global recycling federation, “The recyclables should be recognised as the 7th most important resource, after water, air, coal, oil, natural gas and minerals. There is an urgent need to raise awareness about the 7th resource and enhance the perception that recycling is about creating a clean and sustainable environment for us and for future generations.”

By 2025, India’s waste management sector is expected to be worth US$13.62 billion with an annual growth rate of 7.17 percent. India produces 62 million tons of solid waste per year, but only about 75-80% of the municipal waste gets collected and 22-28% of that waste is processed and treated, according to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

Out of which, plastic is the most recycled material at the rate of 60%, most of it in the informal sector.

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is a food grade plastic which is globally used for food and pharma packaging has the highest rate of recycling. India generates over 900 tones of PET annually and has a recycling rate of over 95%, since PET bottles attract the best price in the recycling chain.

Dr. Gauri Pathak, Homi Bhabha Fellow and Assistant Professor, Aarhus University, Denmark, said, “India has a very strong and effective informal recycling economy, comprising of rag pickers and downstream recyclers. However, currently we are not leveraging this economy to the fullest. In order to address the problem of plastic pollution, we, as a country, along with industry need to work with rag pickers and recyclers to maximize recycling and resource use. There are several excellent initiatives and NGOs trying to help municipal and civic bodies to work more closely with rag pickers to understand their needs and to make the process from disposal to collection and recycling as effective as possible.”

“Plastic recycling is a source of livelihood for many of the most vulnerable citizens of our country, and it also helps in optimizing the use of limited resources. For instance, a circular economy (where waste and use of new raw materials are minimized) of easily recyclable plastics like PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and HDPE (high density polyethylene) substantially reduces the carbon footprint of consumer goods,” Dr. Pathak added.

Plastic packaging is one of the largest applications and accounts for 26% of the total volume of plastics used across the globe. Plastic packaging volumes are expected to double within 15 years and increase four times by 2050, to 318 million tones annually – which is more than the entire plastics industry today.

Sachin Sharma, Director of GEM Recycling, one of the largest PET recycling companies in India, said, “The Indian recycle industry employees close to 4 million people, directly or indirectly. Since plastic, especially PET bottles attract high recycling price, it is one of the best ways of income generation for a variety of people attached to the industry from rag pickers to the recyclers. We need to collectively address the real problems that are harming the environment – our irresponsible behavior manifesting as littering and ineffective waste management system. We see Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) as the right solution for post-consumer use PET bottles collection to responsible recycling. A holistic approach and efforts by all in the value chain can help us implement a right system with support from the government and citizens.
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