In January of this year, Delhi introduced a ban on disposable and single-use plastic in response to complaints about the illegal burning of mass amounts of plastics at three major local landfills. The government of Karnataka has also implemented a state-wide plastics ban, as have the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Punjab. These bans, coupled with changing attitudes and concerns regarding the environment, are requiring manufacturers of plastic flexible packaging solutions and materials in India to make substantial changes to their businesses and products. The popularity of plastic in India may soon be outpaced by more sustainable packaging materials such as paper and bioplastics.
One of the main characteristics of flexible packaging is a shape that can be changed with ease to accommodate the product or products being packaged. The majority of flexible packaging products in India are made from low-yield plastics, though paper is also frequently used.
The packaging industry in India constitutes roughly 5% of the global packaging industry, with the demand for plastic flexible packaging is a main driver behind India’s growth. Most forms of plastic packaging products are popular in India, evidenced by the fact that the country is one of the world’s biggest plastic polluters.
The growing number of food and beverage companies and restaurants is heavily influencing the demand for plastic flexible packaging. Supermarket chains in India and other parts of Asia are growing at a collective rate of 15% annually, and fast food chains are growing at a rate of almost 12% annually.
High rates of urbanization, increasing disposable incomes, and a fast-growing economy are other factors that influence the popularity of plastic flexible packaging in India. Consumers in the country now heavily prefer convenience products, including products like stand-up pouches, pre-packaged foods, plastic cutlery, plastic shopping bags, and flexible plastic films. Flexible plastic packaging is also used in India’s growing e-commerce industry and for brick-and-mortar retail. India’s plastic bans will combat the negative effects of heavy urbanization, especially pollution, but will also force consumers to change their buying habits and preferences.
In the face of these plastic bans, there are a few ways that packaging product manufacturers in India can change their practices and products. The availability of reusable flexible packaging products made from bioplastics in India will likely increase, but their costs will be higher, which may deter more price-sensitive vendors and consumers from using them. An increase in flexible paper packaging products may be better received, especially due to their reduced costs and the fact that they are already commonly used for many applications. For non-food application, it is expected that the use of textiles such as polyester and nylon will become more common due to their reusable nature and durability.
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