The hazards of plastic waste are well known across the globe. In fact, India alone produces 9.46 million tonne of plastic waste every year, of which 40% remains uncollected. And 43% is used for packaging, most of it single-use.
About 60% of this has ended up in landfills or in the natural environment. Notably, the current industry practice to make plastic sustainable is to make it recyclable.
The real green and sustainable solution for the industry is to take a leap from recyclable plastic and move towards bio-compostable plastic which will dissolve in the soil to make a strong positive impact on plastic waste management as well as reduce plastic in the landfills, says Mukul Sareen, director, business development, Hi-Tech International.
Hi-Tech International is said to be the first company in the country to manufacture a plant-based bio-polymer—Dr Bio —which can be used to replace single-use and multi-use plastic products such as bottles, straws, cups, disposable cutlery, polybags, etc., with bio-compostable plastic. Dr Bio is the only Indian biopolymer to have been approved by the Institute of Petrochemicals Technology (formerly known as—Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering & Technology)—thus uniquely positioning Hi-Tech International to drive the plastic industry towards sustainable bio-compostable plastic.
“Dr Bio is India’s only compostable polymer, which means the plastic made from this polymer will disintegrate after 12-14 weeks and will completely biodegrade after six months,” says Sareen. “That means that the bioplastic material will be converted to CO2 and the remaining share is converted into water and biomass, which no longer contains any plastic waste. No heavy metal contents and no harmful substances should be left behind.”
According to Sareen, this innovation is slated to transform the plastic waste management industry. The company has set up a 200,000 sq ft plant in Ludhiana for production of this bio-polymer and plans to invest Rs 100 crore over a period of 2-3 years in the project.
“The usual methods of recycling cannot be qualified as a completely green solution. For example, there is a limit to recycling paper and every kg of paper uses 70 litres of water to recycle, which is counterproductive,” he says.
“Similarly, the process of recycling aluminum and recyclable plastic has high upfront capital costs and these processes themselves are unhygienic and unsafe. Even the recycled products are not of very high quality.”
According to him, the major advantage of Dr Bio is that the bio-based polymers replace fossil carbon in the production process with renewable carbon from biomass. This is indispensable for a sustainable, climate-friendly plastics industry. The second advantage is that they are biodegradable (depending on the environment) and can therefore be a solution for plastics that cannot be collected. This results in elimination of micro plastics from our environment.
The company now plans to address the needs of the packaging industry and its clients with this sustainable solution for their single use and multi-use plastic needs. “We are in advanced stages of negotiation with many Indian and multinational companies across sectors such as FMCG, consumables and cosmetics.
At the same time, our international partners located in 45 countries have seen great potential and are willing to invest in India with us for this technology and many overseas organisations have already adopted this bio-polymer to replace their current plastic needs,” he adds. “The idea is to collaborate closely with corporate, government, academia and NGOs to increase the usage of this sustainable bio-polymer in lieu of conventional plastic. The vision is to create a strong positive impact on landfills and oceans in terms of reduction of plastic waste,” says Sareen.