Multi-layered plastics form 44% of total plastic waste in city: Swach audit
City-based Swach, an organisation involved in waste management, participated in a global audit of plastic waste. As per the brand audit conducted this year in October, multi-layered plastics used in food packaging was the most common type of plastic forming 44 per cent of the total plastic waste in the city.
The audit was a part of a global initiative by Break Free From Plastic to identify producers of plastic waste and the report was released in an online webinar on Thursday. Von Hernandez, global coordinator, Break Free From Plastic movement, said that big brands are major producers of plastic waste and they should be held responsible.
“Big brands which contribute to plastic waste should be held responsible from extraction to disposal of this waste. We, through brand audits, take into account the actual waste which is generated. Since 2018, the waste generation has only increased and this trend is worrying,” said Hernandez.
Echoing similar views, Emma Priestland, global corporate campaigns, Break Free from Plastic movement, said that unlike the bid companies, the small start-ups and businesses in various countries have shown a positive side to plastic generation and disposal. “Though plastic waste is on the rise, many small businesses and start-ups have come up with innovative ways to run an eco-friendly and sustainable business which does not harm the environment,” said Priestland.
She further added that waste pickers play a very crucial role in brand audits to understand the waste generated.
Lubna Anantakrishnan, project manager, Swach, said that they studied waste across 1,000 households in Aundh. “We sorted through the waste on the first day. We observed a mixture of dry and wet waste. Secondly, the milk packets that were thrown away were not cleaned and dried before disposing off. This causes problems in recycling the waste. In multi-layered packaging there was food contamination. We also could not brand audit sanitary waste and diapers as their brand names were not visible,” said Anantakrishnan.
Speaking during the webinar, Lakshmi Narayanan, founder member of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat, Pune’s trade union of waste pickers, said that waste pickers already fulfil the producer’s responsibilities under Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) . “We urge brands not to divert highly recyclable materials like PET away from waste pickers, but instead to design inclusive EPR initiatives which compensate waste pickers and scrap traders for their contribution to effective recycling,” said Narayanan.
Kedar Sohoni, founder-director at Green Communities, said, “The key responsibilities lie with the producers to check plastic waste. All the laws related to extended products responsibility is about this. If the brands were doing a good job in disposing the waste, there would be no such audit required. The brands use 30 to 35 per cent of the MRP (Maximum retail price) for just logistics whereas they simply shrug off their responsibility to dispose off the plastic which is causing pollution.”
Waste generated in Pune
*Dry waste: 25% of total waste
*Plastic waste: 25% of dry waste or 6% of total waste
*Non-recyclable plastic waste: 39% of plastic waste
*Recyclable plastic waste: 61% of plastic waste
Pune’s brand audit data revealed
*At least 44% plastic waste comprises multi-layered plastics which is used in food packaging
*27% of the plastic waste was low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
*76% of all plastic waste was food packaging
*Plastic type==Total count==Percentage of total waste
Source: Pune’s plastic brand audit, Swach
Caption: Swach workers sort plastic waste as a part of the brand audit conducted in October this year.