The Huhtamaki Foundation inaugurated its first recycling plant in Khopoli, Maharashtra on 2 May 2022 to help drive circularity for packaging. The site – which is spread across 2,000 square meters – will recycle about 1,600 kilograms of post-consumer used flexible plastic waste per day from early May as the plant becomes fully operational. The Central Pollution Board of India (2012) estimates that India generates close to 26,000 tons of plastic waste a day and a little over 10,000 tons a day of plastic waste remains uncollected.
The recycling plant was set up with an investment of Rs 9 crore (approximately US$ 1.2 million) as part of the Huhtamaki Foundation’s #CloseTheLoop initiative to tackle post-consumer waste to deliver a valuable secondary resource material. It will process post-consumer waste to create resin to produce refined compounds to be used for household products for consumers in India.
The recycling plant – which is said to be the first of a kind – uses advanced technology to enable the efficient sorting of post-consumer waste, hot washing to remove any contamination, extrusion with extra filtration and deodorisation. This ensures the recycled material can then be used for domestic appliances. The Huhtamaki Foundation worked with the local community and authority in Maharashtra, NGOs, social enterprises, and educational institutes – including Swachh, Stri Mukti Sanghtana, CIPET and ICT – to develop this sustainable plastic waste management system. The plant is fully operational from 2 May 2022.
“The Huhtamaki Foundation has been set up to work towards the conservation of the environment in India with a focus on driving sustainable packaging solutions and driving forward the circular economy by setting up recycling schemes. It actively advocates for alternate sustainable plastic packaging structures, solutions and ease of recyclability,” said Sunil Bhagwat, trustee of the Huhtamaki Foundation.
“Setting up the recycling plant is the first step that the Huhtamaki Foundation has taken in the direction of driving circularity. Over the next few years, we will strive to set up similar facilities in major geographies in India. We are constantly evaluating newer recycling technologies that could be deployed,” he added.
“The Huhtamaki Foundation is a charitable trust settled by Huhtamaki with a view to support the conservation of the environment in India and carry out activities in relation to plastic waste. Its focus is on sustainable packaging solutions and driving forward the circular economy by setting up, amongst others, programs in environmental sustainability and recyclability, with a view to identify, incubate and invest in opportunities designed to intercept plastics at source by collecting, sorting, processing and recycling waste so that waste gets diverted from the environment into the recycling value chain, furthering the circular economy, thereby benefitting the environment, industries and public at large,” said Marco Hilty, president Flexible Packaging Huhtamaki.
“Food packaging is instrumental in driving access to affordable food for all by ensuring hygiene and safety of food and keeping it edible for longer. Whilst the functionality of packaging can’t be compromised, further improvements in the management of post-consumer packaging waste is essential if we are to close the loop on circularity,” said Thomasine Kamerling, executive vice president of Sustainability and Communications at Huhtamaki.
In addition, closing the loop on waste handling and circularity will help in addressing some of the environmental and social impacts caused by improper waste management. Sorting waste at home is recommended as the way to prevent household waste from ending up at a landfill. By separating organic waste, plastic waste and other dry recyclables, which can be composted, recycled and upcycled, consumers can become part of the solution,” she added.