Plastics materials flow analysis for India
Forecasting material flows is essential for sound policy making on issues relating to waste management. This paper presents the results of the plastics materials flow analysis (MFA) for India. In the recent past, India has witnessed a substantial growth in the consumption of plastics and an increased production of plastic waste. Polyolefins account for the major share of 60% in the total plastics consumption in India. Packaging is the major plastics consuming sector, with 42% of the total consumption, followed by consumer products and the construction industry. The relationship observed between plastic consumption and the gross domestic product for several countries was used to estimate future plastics consumption (master curve). Elasticities of the individual material growth with respect to GDP were established for the past and for the next three decades estimated for India thereby assuming a development comparable with that of Western Europe. On this basis, the total plastics consumption is projected to grow by a factor of 6 between 2000 and 2030. The consumption of various end products is combined with their corresponding lifetimes to calculate the total waste quantities. The weighted average lifetime of plastics products was calculated as 8 years. Forty-seven percent of the total plastics waste generated is currently recycled in India; this is much higher than the share of recycling in most of the other countries. The recycling sector alone employs as many people as the plastics processing sector, which employs about eight times more people than the plastics manufacturing sector. Due to the increasing share of long-life products in the economy, and consequently in the volume of waste generated, the share of recycling will decrease to 35% over the next three decades. The total waste available for disposal (excluding recycling) will increase at least 10-fold up to the year 2030 from its current level of 1.3 million tonnes.