The Packaging Industry in India has rapidly grown in the last decades. The increasing demand for bottled water, beverages, personal care and household items has tremendously contributed to the growth and the industry was valued at $32 billion in FY2015. The rigid plastic packaging industry is the largest sector in India’s packaging industry. Growing at a CAGR of 15%, the packaging sector is among the Indian high growth industries and shows immense potential for further expansion. The industry’s new outlook is towards recyclable plastic packaging.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the most used material in rigid plastic packaging. The bottled water industry is steadily on the rise and growing at a CAGR of 30%.  Most of the packaging material used for soft drinks and water is made of PET due to its characteristics that make it perfect for bottled water. PET bottles are robust, lightweight recycled or reused.

Out of 900,000 tonnes of PET produced in India every year, 90% is recycled. This makes India one of the worldwide leaders in recycling PET. 65% is recycled at authorised facilities, 15% in the unorganised sector and 10% is reused at homes. The rest ends up at waste disposal sites.

Polymer scientists at the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) in Pune believe that the market has still strong growth potential. “PET recycling business in India generates around $522.7 million a year, employing thousands, and recycling billions of PET bottles“, said scientist Dr. Magesh Nandgopal from the NCL. While it is one of the most economically beneficial plastics, most of the people are not aware about the recyclable benefits of PET. Recycling PET bottles can be reused as filling material for mattresses or pillows or as converted fabrics for the use in clothing – in fact the entire Indian cricket team’s apparel for the 2015 world cup was made from recycled PET bottles and even their current jersey is made from this material.

Increasing environmental concerns in India over waste management is motivating the Packaging Industry to invest in R&D for alternatives. Food giant Nestle India, is looking to collaborate with Indian start-ups to make alternatives to PET bottles for packaged drinking water. Their goal is to incorporate more recycled plastics and / or bioplastics made from renewable materials into their packaging. Petainer Innopac Packaging, a joint venture in India between Petainer UK Holdings Ltd and Innopac Containers Pvt Ltd is a manufacturer of premium, high performance and sustainable PET / plastics packaging solutions. Their R&D is focused on proprietary innovation with an aim to develop game changing PET / plastic packaging solutions while reducing the carbon footprint from environment and at a reduced cost. Unilever’s Indian subsidiary Hindustan Unilever has implemented innovative packaging ways with use of lighter, stronger and better materials that have a lower environmental impact. Unilever’s Indian subsidiary Unilever’s Indian subsidiary Hindustan Unilever said in 2015, it implemented innovative ways of reducing the resources used for packaging by focusing on using lighter, stronger and better materials that have a lower environmental impact. Unilever’s Indian subsidiaryUnilever claims to move to 100% recyclable plastic packaging by 2025 globally.

Experts in the field of packaging in India are stressing on the need for recyclable plastics – which accounts for 55% of the Packaging Industry. Driven by low cost labour, an increasing trend of using eco-friendly or recyclable materials in packaging and a large consumer market this sector opens opportunities to foreign companies in the Indian retail and technology sectors. India’s increased focus on innovative technologies will provide boost not only to Packaging Industry but also affects other inter-related sectors like the Construction Industry, the Chemical Industry or the Food Processing Sector.

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