why do we need to stop using multi layered plastic packaging?

why do we need to stop using multi layered plastic packaging?

all about multi-layered plastics and the harm caused by them

why is there an urgent need to ban usage of multi-layered plastics?

after all the efforts that are made to save the mother earth from plastic, have we succeeded? 

In spite of continuous attempts, there are still some huge challenges asking for attention. Multi-layered plastic (hereafter referred to as MLP) is one such issue. In this article, we will be sharing with you some insights on MLP. Explore its impact on the planet and a few possible solutions to improve the situation.


what are multi-layered plastics?

A material that has at least one layer of plastic is multi-layered plastic. This type of plastic is used in our daily consumption products like wafers, biscuits, snacks, shampoos, chocolates, and other similar consumable items. MLP is a type of plastic that is stronger, airtight, and water-tight. This makes it suitable for storing many items.

MLP’s make the food item last longer, giving it extended shelf life. Till a product reaches the customer, it goes through many climate changes. With MLP’s, it remains hygienic, fresh, and of high quality till it reaches the customer. 


what happens with the wrappers after consumption?

These are single-use plastics that add up to the existing plastic waste accumulation. Due to its favourable nature, most packaging industries use Multi-layered plastics. The world produces 400 million tons of plastic every year. Out of which 36%, i.e. 144 million tons of plastic is single-use plastic designed for immediate disposal. In India, MLP’s constitute 40% of total plastic packaging. 

As MLPs are used in packaging for FMCG and other consumables, the packages are not disposed of properly. They get mixed with organic wastes and are hard to segregate. Also, such packaging material becomes wet and contaminated. Recycling MLP requires advanced technology to remove the layers and execute the process. This makes it extremely difficult to recycle them.

With informal recycling methods, India is unable to recycle such plastics properly. Lack of opportunity to recycle results in incineration. This process does not fully get rid of the MLP’s. They leave behind some toxicity of the plastic material. It further pollutes air and water, adding toxicity to the lives of humans and other species.


laws governing MLP’s responsibility

Plastic Waste Management (PWM)rules 2016 govern plastic waste management in India. As per PWM Rules, there is a term called EPR, extended producers responsibility. It means the producer is responsible for environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life.

As per Rule 9(2), the primary responsibility of collecting multi-layered plastic sachet or pouches or packaging is of Producers, Importers and Brand Owners who introduce the products in the market. They need to establish a system for collecting back the plastic waste generated due to their products. The collection plan is further to be submitted to the State Pollution Control Boards.

This gives clarity on what the law says about MLP’s, to eradicate the problem from the root. However, the limitation of technology makes it harder to enforce EPR properly. In absence of advanced technology, practical implementation of recycling is not possible in India. However, instead of recycling, it is better to create alternatives to eliminate MLP’s usage altogether. 


what can be done?

MLP’s are dangerous for the environment and can impact the lives of humans and other species in the long term. It is necessary to take the best possible action to reduce the pollution that is caused by MLP’s. Here are some of the possible things that can be done -

  • RIC is Resin Identification Code developed by the Plastic Industry association for identification. On every product, you will find an identification code from either of these 7 categories. This code states the type of material used in manufacturing the packaging product. Multi-layered plastic falls in the 7th code. 

So, next time you buy a product, look for the first 6 RIC labels only.

  • Code 1: PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate
  • Code 2: HDPE – High-density Polyethylene
  • Code 3: PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride
  • Code 4: LDPE – Low-density Polyethylene
  • Code 5: PP – Polypropylene
  • Code 6: PS– Polystyrene
  • Code 7: Other
  • Avoid any products that use MLP and opt for alternatives. Instead of a small shampoo sachet, go for a larger quantity. The plastic used in bottles will at least cause less harm compared to MLP’s in small sachets. 
  • Gain awareness about disposing of materials. If you find a material that can be reused, please do it. You don’t always need to throw away everything. You can use such plastics to make eco-bricks as well.
  • As an individual, you can switch to products that use only recyclable or reusable packaging material like glass jars or paper packaging, or steel tins. This will encourage other companies to bring that shift in their packaging products as well.


it is easier said than done…

We understand that the journey of getting rid of harmful plastics is a longer one. However, this is a journey that we will have to make to save our planet. Even a small step at a time is fine, as long as you are making small changes. 



References - 


Plastic Waste Management Rules


UN Report: Single-Use Plastics, A roadmap for sustainability


Author - CA brinda shah is a freelance content writer. she is a CA turned into a writer who loves to read, write & meditate. you can connect with her on linkedIn  and on instagram 

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