MUMBAI INDIA — India’s plastics industry needs to do more to address its environmental and image challenges, including considering advertising campaigns and more support of recycling, senior officials in India’s chemicals ministry urged in Dec. 12 speeches at the opening of a large plastics show.
Two top officials in India’s Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers opened the Plastivision show in Mumbai with calls for more action from industry, suggesting that without it visible problems like plastic waste and bags in litter could overshadow the industry’s contributions to society and hurt its growth.
Avinash Joshi, joint secretary of the Ministry’s Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, said plastics In India “have a very negative image. It may be because of ignorance or because of people who litter.”
“We are very passive [as an industry],” Joshi said. “Whenever something negative comes, suddenly we become very active. But we are not on our own active.”
In his speech to delegates at the opening ceremony, Joshi did not detail what actions the industry should take, but in an interview later he suggested more support for recycling and potentially large advertising efforts to communicate the benefits of plastics.
“It’s not only recycling — we need to put up a positive campaign,” he said.
Another official in the ministry, Indrajit Pal, the secretary of chemicals and petrochemicals, echoed Joshi, saying that plastic bags are a very small part of the industry but loom large for the public. Various local governments in India have banned or restricted plastic bags.
He urged the industry to better label what types of resins are used in various products to aid in recycling. He said they are bright spots, such as India’s 50 percent recycling rate for PET packaging.
“I request the plastics industry to be more proactive in this,” he said, regarding environmental issues generally.
Pal was the chief guest speaker at the opening ceremony for the show, which organizers said is expected to draw 100,000 visitors. Plastivision runs from Dec. 12-16 at the Bombay Exhibition Centre in Mumbai.
Officials from the trade group The All India Plastics Manufacturers’ Association, which organizes the show, said they set up special pavilions at Plastivision to highlight the contribution of plastics to environmental protection or improving human life.
For example, plastics are heavily used in various water savings applications in agriculture, including drip irrigation equipment, and in creating new medical devices, Kailash Murarka, co-chairman of the show.
Plastivision, which is India’s second-largest plastics show, opened against a background of more economic uncertainty than the last edition in 2011.
The industry’s growth is slowing because of economic problems in India’s economy generally, said Arvind Mehta, chairman of Plastivion’s National Advisory Board.
But he also said that India’s plastics industry continues to grow, nothing that new plastics capacity additions brought on-stream by Indian Oil Corp. were immediately absorbed.