Overcoming Challenges in MLP Collection
Multi Layered Plastics (MLP) presents the most viable and cost effective packaging options for FMCG companies. However the collection, processing of MLP wastes is a challenging and daunting task owing to zero value in recycling value chain, lack of incentives to segregate, limitation in disposal channels
Urban India generates around 25000 MT of plastic waste every day. 43% of this consists of plastic packaging items which includes MLP, single use plastics such as plastic bags, disposable cups, cutlery etc. Owing to its light weight it gets carried away by wind easily and ends up in water bodies impacting the marine life. MLP waste is not an integral part of informal sector collection as there is no value attached to it compared to plastic bottles (PET), containers (HDPE). Also because of its low weight more MLP packages, pouches need to be collected on per kg basis thus demanding more efforts from those involved in collection. (Example -An MLP pouch of a chips packet weighs around 3 grams requiring the ragpicker to collect around 333 pouches to make a kilogram whereas around 40-50 empty water bottles will make a kilogram of PET collection)
MLP is also a difficult material to source when it comes to EPR fulfillment. However with several interventions across the value chain MLP sourcing becomes viable not just from cost perspective but also viable for the environment.
- Consumers need to be educated how the littered, uncollected MLP ends up in landfills and water bodies creating health hazards and ecological imbalances
- Bulk generators like offices, SEZs, IT Parks, Facility managers need to create collection, storage mechanism for MLP pouches
- Waste pickers need to be made aware that MLP is a value generator for them and ask them to make it part of their collection routine
- A system of incentivization should be in place between collection agencies, informal sector (Rag pickers, Waste pickers)
- EPR fees collected from brands should reach the informal sector where they are paid incentives for their collection efforts
- Partnerships with ULBs to incentivize the rag pickers, waste collectors who bring in MLP wastes is one such arrangement
- The baled material from DRCCs, MRFs can be dispatched to cement factories where it is used as an alternative fuel for the kilns
- Other responsible processing channels include waste to energy plants, waste to fuel / pyrolysis plants and road contractors who use the MLP for plastic bitumen roads
Role of digital technology
- Geo tagging can be used to identify, map landfills, dumping sites where MLP wastes are concentrated
- MLP wastes can be extracted from such locations by involving and incentivizing informal sector
- MIS systems, mobile apps will be useful in capturing the inward, outward material flow at the collection centres. This will help in capturing data of MLP collection and the effect to which it is management efficiently.
These cross value chain interventions will create a win-win situation for all the stakeholders - Better income for informal sector, faster sourcing for collection agencies, reduced litter on streets, reduced cleaning costs for the governments, clean environment, better surroundings for all of us. We all Win!