Feb 14, 2022

Responsible plastic waste management requires the entire supply chain to take responsibility. Here’s how G&B created a framework that works

  • supply chain management
  • sustainability
Plastic Waste Management

The Plastic Problem

The invention of plastic in the 20th century was seen as an industrial boon - a turning point in history as the material acted as a substitute for metals, glass and ivory, proving to be a much better, economical and robust alternative. More than a hundred years later, this wonder material that revolutionised the way people lived is fast becoming a curse, as excessive use of plastic and lack of its management has led major environmental degradation.

An astounding 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since 1950, of which only 9% had been recycled and not destined for  landfills. A report by the Central Pollution Control Board (2018-19) estimated that India’s total annual plastic waste generation to be a staggering 3.3 MMT per year. A serious cause for concern is that huge quantities of plastic waste end up in the ocean, rivers, lakes and other water bodies. According to data from UNEP, 72,845 tons of plastic waste is carried into the Gangetic Delta in India and Bangladesh.

The clear imperative is to reduce the immediate negative externalities related to plastic use and waste and the role of the organized industrial economy cannot be overstated in this regard. At Godrej & Boyce, we have been at the forefront of promoting, developing and implementing a robust plastic waste management ecosystem in India and always attempted a proactive approach to contend with plastic waste through the EPR (Extended Producer’s Responsibility) framework.

Starting the implementation of EPR in FY 2018-2019 with its scope spread across four states, Godrej & Boyce has proactively transitioned to the latest requirements in accordance with rules and has met its EPR target in over 26 states & UTs in FY 2020-21.

It has adopted the following methodology for implementing EPR:

  • Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) are appointed for completing the EPR on behalf of Godrej & Boyce
  • An agreement is made with each PRO, and it is ensured that all clauses mentioned are followed adequately
  • State-wise targets are assigned to each PRO and EPR details are obtained from the said PRO at the end of each quarter
  • To ensure transparency, traceability and accountability, third party audits are done at recycling and collection centres of PROs
  • At an organisational level, Godrej & Boyce has a digital platform for easy accessibility, where all EPR documents are available for viewing at the PRO’s website
  • Finally, the actual plastic consumption data is extracted from SoFi (Software for Sustainability Reporting) quarterly and a compiled report is submitted to the Central Pollution Control Board.

These coordinated efforts have resulted in a consistent increase in our EPR target achievement/ completion, with Godrej & Boyce owning the responsibility for 3200 MT of the plastic and packaging waste per year as a baseline consumption projection based on past trends, effectively offsetting more than 100% of its EPR responsibility. Godrej & Boyce plans to scale this up to cover 31 states & UTs in FY 2021-22.

Investing in Innovation

While it is easy to demonise plastic in climate change discourses, a more realistic perspective hinges on waste management - broadly segregation, recycling and proper disposal of plastic products    . To address this and other key concerns, businesses across the globe have initiated Plastic Pacts, intended to transform the use and management of plastic with design and innovation. The pacts aim to deliver on common targets like eliminating unnecessary and problematic plastic packagingbuilding solutions that are reusable, recyclable or compostable, and effectively incorporating recycled content across all packaging utilities.

India Plastics Pact

Godrej & Boyce is a founding member of the ‘India Plastics Pact’ - a collaborative initiative aimed at bringing businesses, governments, and NGOs together to set time-bound commitments to reduce the use of plastics across their value chains. The primary aim of the pact is to promote a circular economy for plastics with public-private collaborations that enable innovative ways to eliminate, reuse, or recycle plastic packaging across the value chain. The India Plastics Pact is the first such pact by an Asian country, and has been launched as a collaboration between WWF India and CII.

With a legacy of philanthropy and labour reforms, and having conserved hundreds of acres of mangroves, Godrej and Boyce has always been at the forefront of environmental conservation. As the use and management of plastic becomes increasingly important in the climate discourse, we once again commit to positive action on this crucial front. The reduction of carbon footprint by adopting reusable alternatives, ensuring waste plastic is recycled and reused in the best possible way, and limiting single- use plastic are strategic imperatives. With collective effort and the common goal of managing plastic waste efficiently, we can move forward towards a better, cleaner and greener future.