Global Packaging Producer Pays Trash Pickers for Recyclable Plastics
UFlex, India’s largest flexible packaging producer will pay people to collect plastics trash for the company’s recycling programs.
A few days ago, I reported on a meeting hosted by UFlex Ltd., India’s largest flexible packaging producer, with production facilities in six countries, including the U.S. For me, the main takeaway from that meeting was the unusual—probably unique—level of concrete, proactive efforts toward establishing a “circular economy” by a company whose production of BOPET, BOPP and multilayer films and packaging is presumably one source of the plastic waste that fouls rivers and oceans. Since then, I’ve learned that there’s even more to the story.
The spokesman for this effort was Anantshree Chaturvedi, vice-chairman and CEO of FlexFilms International, a unit of UFlex. “We believe that plastic is a problem that can be solved,” he said. “Corporate choices and citizen behavior are part of the solution.” He presented Project Plastic Fix as the company’s four-pronged program “designed to clean up plastic waste and convert it into products that have an economic value. In essence, ‘waste becomes wealth.’”
The four elements of Project Plastic Fix are 1) recycling multi-material, metalized and printed film packaging with the aid of compatibilizers into pellets for injection and blow molding into products like garbage cans, highway dividers and outdoor furniture; 2) collecting and converting PET bottle waste into 100% PCR film; 3) reprocessing plastic waste into fuel using pyrolysis that emits no greenhouse gases; and 4) compounding plastic waste with UFlex’s Pepzyme additive that allows plastics to be both recyclable and 100% biodegradable by natural soil bacteria.
As I learned since then, what also makes Project Plastic Fix unique and different is that waste collection for these recycling initiatives will be done by individuals engaged directly by UFlex—“thus eliminating the middleman that typically would see the largest benefit from these transactions,” according to Chaturvedi. “Importantly, Project Plastic Fix contributes to poverty alleviation, as the person responsible for collecting and depositing the waste receives the maximum return.” This program is being piloted in India, Poland and Mexico. UFlex is looking to expand it in the future to the U.S. East Coast and U.K.
“I believe that while plastic cannot be removed from everyday living, it can be used responsibly,” says Chaturvedi. “We can have a solution to use the plastic that the world has already manufactured and ensure that it gets recycled and reused in the conomy, in a variety of ways, without affecting the ecology.”
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