Is there a Green Gap?
Currently, a lot of ambiguity exists around the term ‘biodegradable’. It is also important to understand that biodegradable packaging can be a good idea for the environment in niche applications, such as agricultural films. However, for other applications, biodegradability itself may be of no environmental advantage. Firstly, biodegradability doesn’t prevent litter. And secondly, the process of biodegradation might take a substantial amount of time or might only be achievable in a specialised biodegradation facility. Also, these materials are mixed with recyclable substrates, which can hinder the recycling process. On the other hand, if done efficiently, recycling can effectively address waste management and littering. The need is to ensure that packaging is recyclable and that the ecosystem that enables its recycling exists on the ground.
One simple action plan for India
A strong and uniform regulatory framework can make all the difference. For instance, the endemic issue of littering in India demands strong waste management infrastructure and strong implementation of waste management rules. Moreover, the legislation needs to be uniform across the country, clearly assign the right roles and responsibilities to various stakeholders like manufacturers, brand owners and municipal bodies, among others; and lastly, the legislation needs to be enforced strongly.