Is a one-sided debate sinking sensible policy?

As an industry that uses plastics on a daily basis, what do print and packaging professionals really feel when they hear the material being berated? Sukhdev Singh Saini, packaging lead, Colgate Palmolive talks to WhatPackaging?

10 Jan 2020 | By WhatPackaging? Team

Sukhdev Singh Saini, packaging lead, Colgate Palmolive

What are the key challenges facing the industry?
Lower consumer demand, single digit growth, changing preferences and dynamic retail environment.

While packaging has a great role in preserving food and reducing food waste, we also hear about decreasing levels of nutrition caused by many packaged food types and there is a drive towards alternatives which are more healthy and nutritious. How can packaging play a role in driving this and help us achieve nutrition security along with food security?
We require an optimal designed packaging which is consumer centric and functional. This will ensure that the product reaches the consumer in the desired state and all nutrition intact as per label. Ensure due diligence in defining the material and robust testing is conducted before the product is shipped to the consumer.

If you were to define single-use plastics, what would it be?
A component which is either used by consumer or added by retailer to provide convenience to sell or use the product at the last mile.

The FSSAI has rolled out a lot of standards lately. Do you find them comprehensive? What areas do you find them lacking in? What do you propose?
The packaging standards are comprehensive. They provide basic guidelines for the industry.

If we were to launch a coding system to identify and classify all packaging out there to cover the entire lifecycle of packaging from its constituents to its functions and its ability to recycle, what should it be?
There are many coding systems available internationally – OPR, Howtorecycle, etc along with the popular numerical resin identification coding system which are used widely in India, too. There is merit in sharing the details of every packaging component for easy separation and disposal by consumers. Other details such as carbon footprint impact, source of material, cleaning instructions, nearby recycling or collection centre should be included.

Do you think packaging is at times over-engineered? If yes, can you cite an example?
Yes, many of the products that are ordered via eCommerce are over-packaged.

Collection of post-consumer packaging is often cited as the biggest hurdle in recycling and meeting EPR goals. Do you think packaging can be optimised/ standardised in some ways that can help make collection easier?
The usage of common grade of polymers and other packaging materials will help in recycling/upcycling the recycled materials. For example, companies are adapting to these common grades of PE and PP polymers for their flexible packaging.

Call for an action plan in India!
Creating awareness and consumer education on packaging waste management should be one of the top priorities. People should be free to use any application or platform to engage for such requirements. The information or technical know-how for every packaging group should be made available by organisations to evangelise the cause.