Flexible Alternative To Beat Plastic Pollution In India

Ashish Kumar, CEO, Arvind Advanced MaterialsAn acknowledged domain expert a professional experience of over 21 years, Ashish has been managing small & large businesses and facilitating them with major initiatives & internal transformation

In India, the increasing use of plastic in most urban and rural areas, has led to pollution hazards and health problems among citizens. Reports suggest that an average Indian uses approximately 25 pounds of plastics each year, thus increasing plastic waste, which then piles up in the ever-growing landfills – another key factor endangering our environment. In what could be deemed as a bold step towards containing the plastic menace, the Government of Maharashtra, has recently issued a notification banning the manufacture, use, transport, distribution, wholesale & retail sale, storage and import of plastic bags with and without handle. Effective from June 23rd, it also includes various other disposable products, made from plastic and thermocol (polystyrene).

This brings us to the issue of Polyvinyl chloride commonly abbreviated as PVC - the world's thirdmost widely produced synthetic plastic polymer, after polyethylene and polypropylene. Currently, India generates around 56 lakh tonnes of plastic waste annually, which has made waste management in the country a rather herculean task. About 70 per cent of the total demand for PVC in the country comes from the pipes sector as it is widely used in the manufacture of underground irrigation and water distribution pipes. The remaining 30 per cent of demand comes from the construction sector where PVC is used to manufacture films, profiles, insulation and in calendaring applications. It is also most commonly used in hoardings and banners as it is the best quality for all digital printers.

According to the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) vinyl chloride monomer - the chemical used to make PVC is a known human carcinogen. As a result, the use of PVC Flex leads to a wide range of illeffects on health, including cancer, diabetes, learning & developmental delays, endometriosis, & immune system abnormalities. With birth
defects as one of the repercussions, even new born babies are at an increased risk from the use of PVC. Furthermore, given the fact that PVC flex banners are not recyclable, they are dumped either in the landfills or water bodies, which further pollutes the environment. The chemicals dispensed from this type of plastic and chlorinated plastic contaminates everything - the water, soil and air.

The manufacture and burning of PVC is known to create & release dioxins that end-up in the food that animals eat and accumulates in animal fats. This could lead to a health risk for meat and dairy consumers, as the harmful dioxins from the animal fat could end-up in their system. Since food accounts for nearly 95 per cent of our exposure to dioxin, PVC poses a tremendous threat to human health.

While there are mixed opinions about the plastic ban in Maharashtra, it will be quite instrumental in steering the conversation toward the use of sustainable alternatives to plastic

India, along with the rest of the world, is now in a damage control mode, waking-up to the harsh realities resulting due to the rampant use of PVC in billboards and banners. Taking cognizance of the hazardous nature of this type of plastic, many state governments, including those of Kerala, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra have steppedup to ban the use of PVC flex. We must focus on finding sustainable alternatives, one that can salvage the dangerous environmental crisis and at the same time meet the ever-evolving demands of the signage industry.

The eco-friendly or No flex PVC offers maximum environmental compliance to achieve responsible advertising and promotions. Features that make it suitable to beat the current plastic pollution in the country are: it is recyclable, does not emit hazardous chemicals during its life cycle, and is formulated to suit the requirements of the signage industry. Moreover, it works on diverse ink range such as Solvent, Eco-Solvent, Latex & UV to offer unmatched print results, variety of textures and ultimate performance.

From a business point of view the no flex alternative offers the much sough-after value for money, reduces transportation cost to a huge extent, and is lighter compared to the PVC flex. In addition, the fabric provides excellent resistivity to weather, thereby delivering protracted life to any advertising campaign. Plastic pollution is not restricted to the outdoors and can affect the indoor environment, as well. Most of the indoor locations that use PVC flex banners are at a risk of being exposed to hazardous Volatile organic compound (VOC) and toxins. Specially crafted PVCfree and recyclable indoor fabrics not only deliver vibrant prints but also ensure that the environment is cleaner and healthier inside.

As one of the primary signatories of the Paris climate accord, India is placed at the forefront of the global crusade to save the planet. The mass scale dumping and burning of plastic and plastic products has led to disastrous consequences, choking water bodies and harming precious marine life. While there are mixed opinions about the plastic ban in Maharashtra, it will be quite instrumental in steering the conversation toward the use of sustainable alternatives to plastic and ensure a truly greener future for all.