NGO Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Smriti Manch seeks ban on tetra packs

According to the NGO, tetra packs should be considered a single-use plastic

by exchange4media Staff
Published - Sep 19, 2019 7:08 PM Updated: Sep 19, 2019 7:08 PM
VinodShukla

Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Smriti Manch, a national NGO, demands that tetra pack must be considered a single-use plastic and immediately banned.

Tetra packs are manufactured by gluing together the thin layers of polythene plastic (20%), Paper (75%) and aluminum (5%), which makes it extremely difficult to separate and recycle. The total consumption of tetra pack in India is 900 crore per year, out of which only 270crore (30%) packs get recycled, as per The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI) estimates. The remaining 630 crore packets equal to 94,500MT (15gms per pack) of garbage end up polluting landfills and water bodies every year, the NGO said in a statement.

Around 15,000 tetra packs are purchased and dumped every minute in India. According to the data collected by the largest tetra pack manufacturer in the world (Tetra Pak), there are only 4 recycling units in India for tetra pack – ITC Papers, Deluxe Recycling, Eastern Cargo and Khatema Fibers. The collection and recycling ecosystem are extremely weak for tetra packs in India and advance machinery is required to separate the layers before recycling. Currently, there are only 33 collection centers exist in India for collecting the gigantic numbers of tetrapacks/brick cartons used every day. The Tetra Pak organization is running the ‘Go Green’ initiative since 2010 but managed to collect only 26lakh of discarded tetra packs so far, which is less than 0.01% of total production every year.

 “The Indian citizens, corporates and other stakeholders are unaware about the drastic environment footprint tetra pack leaves behind. Most of us think that tetra packs are made from paper, hence it is environment friendly, but the reality is far from it. It is a multi-material packaging, which makes it extremely hard to recycle. It has no reusability at homes and attract negligible value in the recycling chain, hence the littered packs never get collected and leach toxins in water bodies and earth. The government should immediately ban this material. Also, the industries and scientists should look for alternatives for other multilayer packaging such as chips/chocolate/biscuit wrappers, which in absence of a viable alternative not banned by the government so far.” said, Vinod Shukla, President – Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Smriti Manch and nephew of late Deendayal Upadhyay.

“Currently, 42% of plastic waste in India is multi-layered packaging. The manufacturers of tetra pack, chips/chocolate wrappers must also be compelled to establish extended producer responsibility (EPR) model to collect every last pack/wrapper, so the leaching of chemicals in soil and water bodies can be prevented. The plastic used in making tetra packs is the same used in manufacturing flimsy polyethene bags, which is extremely harmful for human health and mother earth,” he further added.

 Sharing his views on tetra pack, Sanjay K Chattopadhyay, Former Additional Director, and Head, Research and Development at Indian Institute of Packaging, Mumbai, said, “Tetra pack is a non-recyclable laminate and does not biodegrade entirely. Although, the paperboard is biodegradable, but the printing ink leaches into the environment. All the packaging materials which have a layer of plastic, if remains deposited in the environment for long can trigger environmental pollution as well as health hazards. If we talk of recycling after use, it is not feasible to segregate the extra-thin layers of polyethylene, paperboard and aluminum present in the tetra pack and thus it is not ideal for recycling. However, products such as panel boards and roof sheets are now manufactured segregating the paper part from the tetra pack materials. But repurposed products of original quality cannot be generated from tetra pack substances. Thus, the system remains linear, not cyclic to make it sustainable. At present, the options available to deal with non-easily recyclable material are mixing them with bitumen for road construction, conversion to fuel and incineration. Tetra Pak being a semi rigid packaging material can be converted into a composite structure. Instead of recycling, the option of a well-structured end to end solution incorporating recovery may be thought of.”

The global production of tetra pack stands at 189billion packs per annum, out of which 26% get recycled, which means 139billion packs remain uncollected worldwide every year. Tetra Pack is used to package juices, dairy products, alcohol etc., globally.

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