Anybody who is living in, or have been traveling in India, has for sure noticed the amount of plastic waste spread around roads and public spaces. It’s unsightly, it degrades very slowly and some plastics can be toxic.
From a recycling standpoint, the most problematic plastics are the thin film polybags and other types of thin film packaging. This type of packaging is especially popular for food items, shampoos, soaps and other types of consumer goods. It is very hard to separate and collect once entering the waste stream, and it creates large problems such as clogging drains (for those who were in Mumbai this monsoon – a lot of those floods are indeed caused by plastics). In India the problem becomes even greater since most of these products are sold in very small quantities (one time use sizes) as compared to products sold in larger packages in richer countries.
A recent article in Tehelka, an independant newspaper in India, discusses the recommendations of the ministry of environment and forests expert committee on these types of plastic packaging. It provides for both some hope and some questions that need to be asked.