Beverage Packaging in India: Path to a Circular Economy

Vandana Tandan shares her insights in light of the urgent need for a circular packaging ecosystem in India & how aseptic packaging, sustainable and recyclable solutions offer a way forward.

In light of the urgent need for a circular packaging ecosystem in India, How aseptic packaging, sustainable and recyclable solutions offer a way forward.

The first step towards becoming sustainable involves a close examination of one’s procedures and the implementation of practical measures to bring about incremental adjustments that finally add up to meaningful transformations. As crucial as accomplishing one’s ever-evolving sustainability goals are, one must also take the initial steps and carry out concrete measures to achieve them. When it comes to selecting packaging that satisfies both their aspirations for convenience and sustainability, consumers and companies sometimes arrive at a crossroads. And often, sustainability claims might be supported by reliable certifications, but it might still be challenging to understand how they work.

Indian packaging industry

The F&B packaging market in India is expected to grow from a size of $33.2 billion in 2020 at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 9.3% until 2026. In addition, the Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP) calculated that the consumption of packaged foods in India rose by 200% during the previous ten years, from 4.3 kg to 8.6 kg per person per year. Additionally, the beverage industry accounts for around 23% of all PET applications in packaging.

As a result, it is now essential that the beverage packaging industry embrace innovative methods and raw materials, so as to reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste generated. Government guidelines have also emphasized the urgency of this for the beverage packaging market due to the fact that packaging waste is considered hazardous for the environment, urging the sector to make a move towards sustainable and recyclable packaging solutions.

Plastic ban in India

In light of the ban on plastic straws in India, the F&B sector has asked for more time to complete the shift to biodegradable straws for beverage cartons. SIG provides the first market-ready substitute to plastic straws for aseptic cartons – biodegradable straws made entirely of paperboard, including straight and U-shaped paper straws available in 4- and 6-mm diameters. The straw wrapper has also been altered so it remains attached to the pack and is easy to recycle. The straws are specifically made to be strong enough so they can pierce the straw hole of SIG’s aseptic cartons. In addition to demonstrating their dedication to the environment and maintaining the practicality of small, on-the-go packs, this presents producers and consumers with an excellent opportunity to decrease single-use plastics and bring down plastic waste.

The mass balance system

The mass balance method has been successfully used to account for the mass of resources going in and coming out of a production system, as well as for sourcing sustainable materials. Manufacturers mix, monitor, and assess the amount of bio- and fossil-based raw materials using a mass balancing method. The number of carton packs that can be considered totally plant-based can be assessed based on the amount of bio-based components used. The ability to gradually increase the amount of bio-based raw materials utilized in the production process, in order to eventually get rid of fossil-based resources completely, is one of the key benefits of the mass balance technique.

Current state of the industry

There still exists significant difficulty in ensuring food safety from the time a product is created and packed, to when it is delivered to consumers, despite the packaging industry’s attempts to increase paper composition from 70% to around 80%-85%, and even beyond. The industry is attempting to substitute more sustainable barriers for aluminum without sacrificing the packaging quality. Companies leading the industry in eliminating the aluminum layer entirely from its aseptic cartons, developing the first aseptic carton pack made entirely of renewable plant-based materials.

The paperboard used in aseptic cartons must still be laminated with plastic, that much is obvious. However, plant-based resources can now also be used to make plastic. Bioplastics are now a practical option thanks to creative utilization of these basic ingredients. Tall oil, a byproduct of the paper-making process, is the forest-based feedstock used at SIG. Instead of being an agricultural crop that needs land and resources that could otherwise be utilized to create food, it is a byproduct from within the carton packaging supply chain. SIG’s selection of raw material supports a circular economy because the company is dedicated to minimizing the amount of finite fossil resources and maximizing the amount of renewable natural resources used.

Scientifically certified solutions

Reputable sustainability certifications like ISCC PLUS for the forest-based polymers used in the SIGNATURE 100 packing material make sure that high standards are upheld throughout the supply chain and that predetermined guidelines for mass balance are followed. The advantages of SIG’s SIGNATURE packaging material for the environment have been supported by a lifecycle analysis carried out by independent experts using the ISO 14040 international standard and critically reviewed by an independent panel. A brand can combine its packaging needs and sustainability objectives with the help of SIG. In addition to SIGNATURE 100, which has won several awards, SIG’s complete line of packaging solutions in various shapes and sizes also provides an excellent path towards achieving a circular economy.

Country Manager at SIG Combibloc India Private Limited

With more than 25 years of experience in the field of B2B sales & business development, Vandana Tandon is the Country Manager at SIG Combibloc India Private Limited. Born and brought up in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, Vandana completed her graduation in B.Com Honours from Kanpur University and her MBA from the Institute of Management Studies.

During the course of her 26-years-long career, Vandana has handled several roles involving marketing and financial management, product management, strategy planning, business development, and more. Starting off as a Management Trainee at Infosys in 1994, she has worked with DCM Data Systems, International Flavors and Fragrances, Tetra Pak, and Orana India, before joining SIG India in 2018, at a time when the organisation was refocusing its attention on the India market.

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