India's $150 million-a-year plastics recycling industry is socioeconomically driven, with more than 1.5 million of the country's poor scouring and scavenging dump sites for plastic that can be recycled.
The practice has helped the country's plastics industry achieve a 60 percent recycling rate, said U.K. Saroop, who headed the Plastindia recycling display at the recent New Delhi show.
Business growth for plastics recycling in India is projected at about 10-15 percent this year, with 7,360 units already operating in the country, turning around 4.4 billion pounds of plastic, he said.
The Indian market is heavily dependent on products made from recycled plastics, which cost half as much as products made from virgin resin, said Harvinder Singh, chief executive of New Delhi recycling equipment supplier H.K. Industries.
He estimated plastic consumption in India at roughly 70 percent recycled and 30 percent virgin materials, which are used largely for pharmaceutical and food sectors or products that fit the living standards of India's middle class.
Singh said plastics waste collection in India is a developed network, with collectors selling daily to scrap traders, who sell to recycling operations. However, the country has no specific disposal or drop-off system, he said.
Meanwhile Singh's firm, H.K., is working to make its recycling machinery more energy efficient. Like other recycling equipment makers, H.K. and Pimco Machines Private Ltd. of Mumbai, India, have gained a foothold in export markets, especially in Africa and the Middle East. Pimco also sells into Germany, London and Italy, said director C.N. Vinay. His firm and an undisclosed European plastics machinery maker are discussing a venture to make recycling machinery for European markets.