Bengaluru

Brand audit reveals food packaging, household items among top plastic polluters

Brand Audit 2021-UNWRAPPED was a data-driven, citizen-led initiative in which plastic waste was documented to identify companies responsible for plastic pollution.

Brand Audit 2021-UNWRAPPED was a data-driven, citizen-led initiative in which plastic waste was documented to identify companies responsible for plastic pollution. | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A brand audit of plastic waste in select places in Karnataka, including Bengaluru, identified food packaging and household items among top polluters.

“Brand Audit 2021 -UNWRAPPED,” conceptualised by Break Free From Plastics (BFFP), was a data-driven, citizen-led initiative in which plastic waste was documented to identify the companies responsible for plastic pollution. Spread over 44 locations across Bengaluru, Bettahalasur, Kodagu and Mysuru, 288 volunteers audited 1,24,390 pieces and audited 2,663 brands.

The methodology was two-pronged: home audits - the composition of household plastic waste generation, and clean-ups of waste in public spaces. “Once the plastic waste is collected, data on each piece of plastic is recorded: brand name, parent company, product type, plastic resin type and single or multi-layered plastic,” the report said.

In Bengaluru, 74,616 pieces - 60% were audited, 17361 pieces - 14% in Bettahalasur, 29945 pieces - 24% in Kodagu and in Mysuru, 2468 pieces - 2%.

“The local/national brands dominated the brand audit, accounting for 73% of the total brands, and international brands 27%. Unbranded products, accounted for 31% of the total pieces, and this includes single use plastic items such as plastic bags, covers and pouches including those for dustbins, food packaging such as chapatti covers, or snacks, etc. In a way, this implies that COVID has resulted in diluting the Karnataka plastic ban,” the report said.

Single layer was the dominant packaging, accounting for 73%. Food packaging material was the highest overall with 60%, followed by packaging material at 20%.

LDPE (low density polyethylene) packaging was the highest with 33%, with milk and curd items accounting for the bulk of it, while the second category under type of material was ‘others,’ which included multi-material and other unidentifiable plastics at 31% (biscuit packets, chocolate wrappers, shampoo packets, sachets, masks and plasticised cardboard cartons).  

The report’s recommendations for companies include internalising the true cost of plastic production and plastic pollution and invest in sustainable systems, revealing how much plastics are being produced and imported, redesign packaging and delivery systems and stop promoting chemical recycling and co-processing as alternatives, and investing in reuse and refill infrastructure systems apart from building capacities of informal waste workers to be able to engage and work in these new opportunities.

Pinky Chandran, Trustee, Hasiru Dala told The Hindu this is the second such audit. “Manufacturers must seriously acknowledge and respect waste pickers as equal partners in actualising the vision of collecting all plastic packaging. Given that waste pickers have been subsiding waste management, especially plastic waste, for many years, they need to significantly invest in recycling infrastructure and financial mechanism to enable that and come forward as environment stewards,” she said.

She added that the new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) targets must invest in reuse infrastructure. “Corporates need to step up and look at redesigning packaging and must not co-opt false solutions that focus on chemical recycling or coprocessing in cement kilns,” she said.


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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 9:18:42 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/brand-audit-reveals-food-packaging-household-items-among-top-plastic-polluters/article65241134.ece