Indian companies on same page in tackling plastic pollution
Some of the largest local and multi-national consumer goods companies in India came together recently in Mumbai to work collaboratively on addressing the country's plastic pollution.
Plastic pollution world-wide is growing and creating significant ecological, social and economic impacts. The Ganges and Indus Rivers are two of ten global rivers that in total contribute 90 percent of plastics reaching the ocean.
Due to the limited availability of formal waste management systems, this issue is particularly acute in India where the informal waste sector handles 4.7Mt of plastics annually, compared to 0.2Mt handled by the public waste system.
The business forum, convened by Stewart Investors in partnership with the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) and local waste experts, was a significant step forward, building on existing efforts to address plastic pollution, such as the India2022 Coalition coordinated by Xynteo.
The plastics industry is an important part of the Indian economy. It employs 4 million people and is expected to grow 20 percent each year, driven by population growth, economic development and urbanisation.
Stewart Investors invited major companies they own shares in, or are considering owning to attend the forum. Alongside industry and academic experts, business representatives had the opportunity for meaningful discussion, to share knowledge and develop collaborative actions to reduce plastic packaging waste.
“Stewart Investors’ Sustainable Funds Group invests in companies that contribute to and benefit from sustainable development," said Stewart Investors investment analyst Lorna Logan.
“In addition to the environmental impacts, Stewart Investors sees plastic pollution as a key investment risk, due to changing consumer preferences and regulatory risks. They recognise the urgent need for transformation of the global plastics economy and the vital role that business can and should play in leading this transformation.
“The forum revealed a strong sense of shared purpose and a desire to work together to address the issue of plastic pollution in India,” said ISF research principal Alison Atherton.
“There was clear agreement to continue collaborating on a comprehensive list of priority activities. These priorities were developed through a structured process that began with envisaging how plastics would be effectively managed in the future and then testing these ‘preferred futures’ by thinking about challenges, drivers for change and barriers to effective action.”
Some of the priority actions identified at the forum included:
- Creating a peak industry body to address plastic packaging waste proactively
- Implementing a national communications campaign, educating on proper use and disposal of plastic packaging
- Encouraging companies to work with common waste service providers
- Developing a common vision for plastic packaging waste management.
"The business sector has a vital role to play in the transformation to a sustainable, circular economy for plastics, either through collaboration or unilateral action.
“Stewart Investors hopes this will be just the first step in a significant new effort to reduce plastic pollution in India,” said Ms Logan.
For more information, access the on the ISF website.