Thousands of tons of waste plastic are despoiling India’s streets, fields, beaches and countryside, and India’s railways are visible from the moon because of the plastic waste at the sides of the tracks.
According to Michael Stephen, chairman of Symphony Environmental Ltd. “There is no need to ban plastic products, but there is no longer any need or excuse for this old-fashioned type of plastic, and it should be banned throughout India, and replaced with oxo-biodegradable plastic, as has already been done in the United Arab Emirates.” As from 1st January 2012 the UAE banned all disposable plastic which is not oxo-biodegradable.
Addressing representatives of Indian government, businesses and NGOs at the British High Commission in Delhi, Mr. Stephen, a member of the UK Parliament from 1992-97, and a member of the House of Commons Environment Committee, explained that oxo-biodegradable technology, such as Symphony’s d2w, is designed to deal with plastic waste which could otherwise lie or float around in India’s environment for decades.
The d2w technology is incorporated at manufacture into disposable plastic products such as carry-bags, food packaging, garbage sacks, bottles and shrink-wrap made from PE, PP, or PS, and converts them into a biodegradable material at the end of their useful life. No fragments of plastic are left and there are no heavy metals or toxic residues. It is also recyclable during its useful life.
Mr. Stephen emphasized that this new type of plastic can be made by Indian factories with their existing machinery and workforce at little or no extra cost. Approximate timescale for degradation can be set at manufacture as required. For a video of plastic film degrading,
He explained that the bio-based, “compostable” type of plastic was considered and rejected in the UAE. It is also unsuitable for India because it is designed to be collected and taken for industrial composting, so it does not solve the plastic litter problem. It is not useful even in compost, because the relevant standards require it to convert to CO2 gas within 180 days. This contributes to climate change and is of no value to farmers
Compostable plastic is too expensive for everyday use as it costs up to 400% more than ordinary plastic and cannot be recycled with ordinary plastics. In addition, if disposed of in an ordinary landfill it will create methane in anaerobic conditions. Methane can cause fire and explosions, and is a potent greenhouse gas.
He added that not a single barrel of oil had ever been extracted to make ordinary or oxo-bio plastics – it is extracted to make petrol, diesel and aviation fuel, and the plastic is made from a by-product which used to be wasted. It makes no sense to use scarce land and water resources to grow crops to make bio-based plastic. Bio-based plastics are not renewable if you take into account the fossil fuels consumed by the machines used in the agricultural production process.
Symphony is also introducing its other technologies to the Indian market, including d2p anti-microbial plastic which can be used for all types of plastic products likely to be touched by people, thereby transferring infection from one person to others e.g. door handles, table-tops, computer keyboards, wc seats etc. The technology makes the plastic hostile to bacteria and is incorporated into ordinary plastic at the point of manufacture.
Source: packagingeurope, 2012-03-08.