The Huhtamaki Foundation creates a plastic recycling factory in India

Thomasine Kamerling, Suraj Nandakumar, Marco Hilty, Yogesh Bambal and Dr R Rangaprasad

The Huhtamaki Foundation inaugurated its first recycling plant in Khopoli, Maharashtra on May 2, 2022, to contribute to the circularity of packaging. The site, which covers 2,000 square meters, will recycle around 1,600 kilograms of post-consumer flexible plastic waste per day from early May, when the plant becomes fully operational. The Central Pollution Board of India (2012) estimates that India generates nearly 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste per day and just over 10,000 tonnes per day of plastic waste goes uncollected.

The recycling plant was set up with an investment of Rs 9 crore (about US$1.2 million) as part of Huhtamaki Foundation’s #CloseTheLoop initiative to tackle post-consumer waste to provide a valuable secondary resource. It will process post-consumer waste to create resin to produce refined compounds to be used for household products for Indian consumers.

The recycling plant – said to be the first of its kind – uses state-of-the-art technology to enable efficient sorting of post-consumer waste, hot washing to remove any contamination, extrusion with additional filtration and deodorization. This ensures that the recycled material can then be used for household appliances. The Huhtamaki Foundation has worked with community and local authorities in Maharashtra, NGOs, social enterprises and educational institutions – including Swachh, Stri Mukti Sanghtana, CIPET and ICT – to develop this sustainable plastic waste management system. The plant is fully operational from May 2, 2022.

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“The Huhtamaki The Foundation was established to work towards environmental conservation in India with a focus on promoting sustainable packaging solutions and promoting the circular economy by setting up recycling programs. It actively advocates for alternative sustainable plastic packaging structures, solutions and ease of recycling,” said Sunil Bhagwat, trustee of the Huhtamaki Foundation.

“Setting up the recycling plant is the first step that the Huhtamaki Foundation has taken in the direction of driving circularity. Over the next few years, we will strive to set up similar facilities in major geographical regions of India. We are constantly evaluating new recycling technologies that could be deployed,” he added.

“The Huhtamaki Foundation is a charitable trust established by Huhtamaki to support environmental conservation in India and carry out activities related to plastic waste. It focuses on sustainable packaging solutions and advancing the circular economy by establishing, among other things, environmental sustainability and recyclability programs, with a view to identifying, incubating and investing in opportunities designed to intercept plastics at the source by collecting, sorting, processing and recycling so that waste is diverted from the environment into the recycling value chain, thereby promoting the circular economy, thereby benefiting the environment, industries and the general public,” said Marco Hilty, President of Flexible Huhtamaki packaging.

“Food packaging is essential to promote access to affordable food for all by guaranteeing the hygiene and safety of food and keeping it edible for longer. While packaging functionality cannot be compromised, further improvements in the management of post-consumer packaging waste are essential if we are to close the circle of circularity,” said Thomasine Kamerling, Executive Vice President of sustainable development and communications at Huhtamaki.

Additionally, closing the loop on waste management and circularity will help address some of the environmental and social impacts caused by poor waste management. Sorting garbage at home is recommended as a way to keep household garbage from ending up in the landfill. By separating organic waste, plastic waste and other dry recyclables, which can be composted, recycled and recycled, consumers can be part of the solution,” she added.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the nationwide lockdown on March 25, 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned during this time? Perhaps the sense of resilience as small businesses like ours have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we struggled to produce our business platforms.

The printing and packaging industries have been lucky, although the commercial printing industry has yet to recover. We learned about the digital transformation affecting commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately, digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is an advanced technology that will only increase the demand for print for the foreseeable future.

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