Kolkata, India — India has the lowest per capita resin consumption of major world markets, with the Northeast region around the city of Kolkata lagging even further behind.
But the industry is eyeing new investment in resin plants and processing infrastructure to help close the gap in the region, which has less than half the per person use of plastic as the rest of India.
During interviews at the Indplas 2015 show, held Nov. 27-30 in Kolkata, industry officials noted new petrochemical investment coming, including projects in Orissa by Indian Oil Corp. Ltd. and Assam by Gail (India) Ltd.
About 46 percent of India's plastics processing capacity is concentrated in states in the west of India, including in Gujarat and Maharashtra, while the east region has only 9 percent of capacity, industry figures show.
Executives expect the new resin capacity in the east will spur more plastics processing investment.
“With [Gail's] project coming up in Assam, another 200-250 [processing] units would likely to come up in the next few years,” said Pradip Nayyar, president of the Indplas 2015 show and co-chairman of the Plastindia 2018 trade fair.
Some of the new processing plants will be located in polymer parks being developed with assistance from local governments. Polymer parks are clusters of plastics operations including small- and medium-sized enterprises and recyclers.
“We are ready to offer land for a polymer park at Kharagpur and Panagarh,” said Amit Mitra, minister for finance, excise, commerce and industries in West Bengal state, at the Indplas opening ceremony.
The Mumbai-based Plastindia Foundation also has proposed a polymer park, with space for 60 companies, on land about 20 miles from Kolkata.
“A whole lot of possibilities have opened up for the sector with the government's announcement of various initiatives like Digital India, Skill India, and Clean India, under the ‘Make in India' program,” said Plastindia President K.K. Seksaria.
Also, West Bengal Industrial Development Corp. is setting up a plastics industrial park for 40 companies in Sankrail, where the Indian Plastics Federation is setting up a knowledge center for skills development.
But to achieve its maximum development, Mitra, the West Bengal finance minister, warned industry to do more to address perceptions of environmental problems from polymers, and use more biodegradable and recycled plastics.
“The perception towards plastics has to be changed and stakeholders should sit together and find solution,” he said.
Petrochemical plants can become large drivers of investment and employment in processing companies in India.
Executives estimated that the large Haldia Petrochemical Ltd. plastics plant outside Kolkata spurred about 500 downstream processing plants, employing 200,000 direct and indirect workers.
Indian Oil has already started construction of a 1.5 billion pound per year polypropylene plant in Paradip that is scheduled to be commissioned by 2017, said D. Sen, the company's director of planning and business development. The company will likely invest $4.5 billion in the next five years at the Pardip refinery on a series of projects related to the polymer sector, he said.
Gail is building an integrated cracker and polymer complex in Assam with production startup scheduled for the middle of 2016. It will have capacity of 485 million pounds per year of polyethylene and 132 million pounds of PP.
West Bengal, which includes Kolkata, has per capita plastics use of 10.3 pounds per year, compared with an Indian average of 21.3 pounds and a world average of 62 pounds.