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Report on Alternative Products and Technologies to Plastics and their Applications

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Report on Alternative Products and Technologies to Plastics and their Applications

Recently, NITI Aayog has released a report on ‘Alternative Products and Technologies of Plastics and their Applications’.

NITI Aayog had constituted an expert committee. It was entrusted with the task of assessing the development of research on alternatives to plastics or technologies that make plastics degradable.

Clear definitions of bio-plastics, biodegradable plastics, degradable plastics and oxo-degradable plastics have been given in this report.

Key findings of report-

  • India produces about 34.7 lakh tons of plastic waste annually, of which only 60% is collected for recycling.
  • Due to the increasing concentration of plastic wastes (especially micro-plastics) on land, air and water bodies, their management is imperative. (Particles of plastic up to 5 mm in size are called micro-plastics.)
  • The informal sector and disadvantaged groups make a significant contribution to the recycling of waste.
  • For bio-plastics to be a cost-effective alternative, it requires significant technology investment and making it economically viable.
  • Emerging technologies are being developed to add additives to make plastics biodegradable polyolefins. (Examples of biodegradable polyolefins are polypropylene and polyethylene.)

Key recommendations of report- 

  • Waste reduction should be improved through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
  • Degradable and biodegradable plastics should be properly labeled and stored.
  • Transparency should be increased in publicizing waste generation, collection, recycling or scientific disposal to ensure accountability and avoid greenwashing.
  • Greenwashing refers to spreading false impression or misleading information about a company’s product that that product is environmentally friendly.
  • R&D should be encouraged and manufacturing sector should be given a boost.

Important definitions

Bio-plastics: It consists of a number of materials that are either obtained from biological sources, or are biodegradable, or both. These materials are made from renewable biomass resources.

Biodegradable plastic: This is a different type of plastic than degradable plastic. It can be completely degraded by biological processes. They have an adverse effect on the environment.

Oxo-degradable plastics: There are conventional plastics such as polyethylene (PE). These contain an additive to help break them down into smaller pieces. These can lead to the entry of micro-plastics into the environment.

Source – The Hindu

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