Organised PET recycling has grown to become a R3,500-crore industry, and is expected to keep growing. The country has around 41 manufacturing units spread across 46 locations with a total capacity of 800 kilotonnes per annum. These units have capacity ranging from 3 ktpa to 60 ktpa, and recycled PET is used to make fibre-based, value-added products. Bulk of these units are located in the north and western parts of the country.
According to Magesh Nandagopal, scientist from CSIR National Chemical Laboratory, whose team of scientists looked at the entire chain from waste collectors to recyclers and PET manufacturers, the overall PET consumption in the country grew to 907 killotonnes in 2015-16, from 774 killotonnes in 2014-15. The country is recycling around 60 to 70% of PET in the organised segment.
The average price realisation of PET per kg is at R75 making it a financially profitable and scientifically feasible proposition for everyone in the chain from the rag-pickers to the recycler, Nandagopal said. The challenge was to get as much PET into the recycling ecosystem, Nandagopal added.
Waste collectors, traders, recyclers around the country have formed a seamless chain to systematically collect, sort and recycle PET bottles into a surprising range of products from the jerseys worn by the Indian Cricket Team for the world, among others. The value-added product from recycled PET ranges from R90 to 105 per kg Based on the one-year study by this team, a dedicated public resource site, petrecycling.in, was created to share the learnings, data, and be a platform for the recycling economy.
Dr Vijay Habbu, SVP, Reliance Industries, said plastic cannot be wished away and it is not that plastic was bad but it the way your treat them after used that is the problem. A platform like petrecycling is a transparent and objective way of dealing with the issues so that decisions can be taken and opinions made using data and scientifically.