Noida, India — India's urbanization will substantially increase plastic consumption, the head of one of the country's key policymaking bodies said at a recent plastics trade show.
"We will do more urbanization in the next five decades compared to what we have done in the past 5,000 years, therefore providing a massive growth opportunity to the plastic industry," said Amitabh Kant, CEO of the National Institution for Transforming India, in an address at Indiaplast in Noida.
Kant said the quickening pace of urbanization in India is in contrast with the United States and Europe, where the process is essentially complete, and in China, where it's nearing completion. That means 700 million people in India will be involved in urbanization in the next 50 years, he said.
NITI was established in 2015 as the think tank for India's government to help guide policy and is also referred to as NITI Aayog, the Hindi term for policy commission.
Kant said plastics demand has been growing 10 percent a year since 2005. But he tempered his growth predictions with a cautionary note that the plastics industry needs to expand in a sustainable manner.
"We have just started the process of urbanization and we have to urbanize in an innovative and environmentally sustainable manner," he said. "A very strong initiative is required from the plastic processing industry with a focus on recycling, reuse, responsible handling of nonrecyclable plastic waste and a focus on biodegradable plastics."
Kant said the plastics industry is considered an expanding sector that's tied into the country's overall GDP growth.
"We are growing at about 7.5 percent plus annually and will maintain the level for the next few years. The challenge is to grow 9-10 percent annually for the next three decades year after year," he said.
The country's micro, small and medium enterprises, or MSME sector, are regarded as the growth engine for plastics processing, he said.
"We have more than 40,000 processing units in MSME producing a diverse range of products with processing capacity of over 35 million tons annually. The processing capacity is growing at the rate of 13 percent CAGR, [which] is considered as unparalleled," Kant said.
Industry officials said the processing industry is expected to invest $5 billion to $10 billion in the next 5 years.
Kant said there was government support for the machinery sector, which organized Indiaplast 2019 under its trade group, the Plastics Machinery Manufacturers Association of India. The fair was held Feb. 28-March 4 in Noida.
"To support plastic machinery manufacturing, the sector has been included in the National Capital Goods Policy, enunciated in 2016 for its holistic development," he said, noting machinery makers could receive financial support for research and development.
He also noted three more plastic parks are being developed and the government will likely announce more such parks.
The government is also looking at improving credit flow to the MSME sector, as well as setting up technical centers across the country, said Arun Panda, secretary of the ministry of MSME.
"The government has decided to set up 120 more technical centers all over the country, which provides MSMEs [help] to upgrade their technology, besides expanding the span of various government schemes for the benefit of the MSMEs," he said.
Mahendra Patel, chairman of the PMMAI, urged the industry to focus on recycling.
"The plastic industry is coping with a bad image despite everybody knowing that it's indispensable in everyday life," he said.