Dinesh Dayal has been serving as the President of IBHA – Indian Beauty & Hygiene Association since September 2014. IBHA is the voice of beauty and personal care products in India. The trade association plays an important role in regulating public policy through regular government interface, thereby, protecting the industry interests. Mayur Sharma interacted with him about the successful implementation of its ‘zero-waste’ plastic management project which focuses on Multi-Layered Plastics (MLP).
Q. How did IBHA originate and what are its core focus areas? What are your priorities around Sustainability and Plastic Waste Management (PWM) in India?
Mr. Dayal: Indian Beauty & Hygiene Association is the voice of beauty and personal care industry in India. IBHA’s mission is to accelerate the development of a trusted hygiene and beauty care industry that serves consumers with products that are effective, safe and environment-friendly.
IBHA was established in 1937 at Kolkata as Indian Soaps and Toiletries Maker’s Association (ISTMA). In 1973, it shifted its operations to Mumbai. ISTMA was later rechristened as IBHA in October 2012.
IBHA’s primary objective is consumer health and safety. IBHA’s forte lies in providing technical perspectives on behalf of industry to the government – be it new regulations, amendments, technical issues related to cosmetics.
The association is also firmly committed to corporate social responsibility via its two important initiatives which tackle:
- Plastic Waste Management
- Anti Counterfeits
Going forward IBHA hopes to become the most trusted Indian Cosmetic Industry Association of ensuring consumer protection and enhancing industry competitiveness. IBHA has on its roster, companies comprising of large, medium and small organizations that represent a majority of the brands in the beauty and hygiene space in India. L’Oréal, Godrej, HUL, Nivea, Dabur, Himalaya, ITC, J&J, P&G, Wipro, Marico, Colgate, and Hygiene Research Institute are some of the members.
IBHA’s plastic waste management model is an attempt to unite the beauty and personal care industry behind a common vision of building a new, sustainable and environment-friendly world.
Q. Can you share the details of your ‘Plastic Waste Management’ project?
Mr. Dayal: IBHA conceptualized the plastic waste management model way back in 2014 when the management of MLP was not even in the spotlight. It launched under a task force of some leading beauty and hygiene companies in India – L’Oréal, Godrej, HUL, Nivea, Dabur, Himalaya, ITC, J&J, P&G, Wipro, Marico, Colgate, Hygiene Research Institute.
IBHA’s project addressed the primary problem of collection of multi-layered plastics at source by training and incentivizing waste-pickers to collect and segregate. They were incentivized by IBHA based on the weight of MLPs collected by them.
IBHA further identified and worked with recyclers who could convert these huge volumes of MLP scrap that was collected and using technology could be converted into useful products so that a complete chain could be formed with zero wastage.
With a dual objective of saving the environment as well as investing in the up-skilling of the waste-pickers, the project was piloted in Mumbai and has now spread to Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, and New Delhi. A total of approximately 55 tonnes of MLP has been collected to date. IBHA is now planning to expand this sustainability model to other cities.
Q. Why do you think the collection of MLP (Multi-Layered Plastics) has been a major issue in India?
Mr. Dayal: Rapid urbanization increase in disposable income and growing aspirations of consumers in both urban and rural areas has led to a massive surge in the use of plastics being used in consumer products.
While this is excellent for the growth of the consumer and the economy, it has led to another problem. Official statistics say that the country generates 25,940 tonnes of waste daily, and the major cities churning out this plastic waste include Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. Moreover, 80% of this plastic is discarded as waste which ends up in landfills, choking drains, littering the marine ecosystem, getting ingested by stray animals, soil and air pollution while leaving a long-lasting detrimental impact on the entire ecosystem.
To manage this challenge, plastic waste management rules were first introduced way back in 2011, under the Environment Protection Act of 1986, which put the onus of collecting waste on the urban local bodies overseen by state monitoring committees. While all this was encouraging, what slipped through the cracks was Multi-layered Plastics (MLP) most commonly found in shampoo sachets, food packets, and tetra packs, etc. MLP’s are touted to be one of the most harmful forms of plastic, considered non-recyclable and are a growing burden on the environment.
Q. Why do you call this project – a ‘Zero Waste’ project?
Mr. Dayal: While IBHA’s project addressed the primary problem of collection and segregation of multi-layered educating and incentivizing waste-pickers, we also went a step further by identifying and working with recyclers who could convert these huge volumes of MLP scrap.
These waste recyclers using technology converted post-consumer flexible multi-layered plastics into useful products so that a complete chain could be formed with zero wastage. Products that are manufactured from post-consumer MLP scrap include furniture, house-hold items, stationery, electronic appliances, agricultural, and automobiles products. Furthermore, it can also be reused as fuel oil, fuel in cement factories and even material for road construction.
Q. You have implemented the plastic waste management project in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, and Chennai till now. How has been the response so far? What are the learnings?
Mr. Dayal: The response initially was slow because we started at a time when MLP was not even a discussion point but over time we have witnessed a huge change specifically with our partners (NGOs/ Waste Pickers/ Recyclers) who have realised the importance and impact of this kind of project. For us what has been the most heartening was how this project has been able to address two pertinent issues: Sustainable environment impact and enabling waste pickers lead a healthy life along with becoming self-reliant.
Learnings have been immense, the first being, raising awareness around the MLP issue. It is important for each one of us to play our part in becoming responsible citizens and start identifying MLP waste, ensuring that it is not simply discarded but collected to be disposed of in a proper manner and that includes segregation process starting from our homes.
Secondly, we have noticed that there is a gap when it comes to MLP recyclers who would be willing to tackle the huge amount of MLP waste that is generated. An underlying reason is of course that there is not enough awareness around MLP and the fact that it can be reused. We are hoping to change this perception through our PWM project which showcases that MLP waste can be reused to produce consumer products and utilized as an alternate form of certain resources.
There is a huge opportunity and we hope that more MLP recyclers can be encouraged to step forward to contribute towards India becoming a strong resource-efficient nation.
Q. The Plastic Waste Management (PWM) project has a ‘task force’ of various FMCG companies. What is their role and responsibility?
Mr. Dayal: Industry collaboration leads to higher ownership and support longevity of goals, standardization of operations and more sustainable solutions.
The focus is clear that as we continue to expand and replicate this model in other cities, we will depend on companies to activate their networks so we are able to identify and reach out to the right NGOs and MLP waste recyclers who will support us in implementing the PWM project effectively. Secondly, companies have come forward to propose a grant which is given to the NGOs so that the waste pickers are incentivized as per the amount of waste that they are collecting.
Apart from this, the companies also provide volunteers/ employees who can train NGOs and waste pickers in efficiently collecting and segregating MLP waste.
Needless to say, the PWM project would not have been able to achieve the kind of success that it has if it was not for taskforce which is always looking out for opportunities on how this can be scaled further.
Q. How did you come up with a model which gives financial support to waste-pickers for collecting MLPs? Any other social impact of this project that you have observed?
Mr. Dayal: MLP waste most commonly found in shampoo sachets, food packets and tetra packs etc which remains uncollected and ends up in landfills, choking drains, littering the marine eco-system, getting ingested by stray animals, soil and air pollution while leaving a long-lasting detrimental impact on the entire ecosystem.
Regrettably, Multi-layered Plastics (MLP) collection is a major issue in India due to a lack of proper segregation mechanism and consumer behavior. Waste pickers are not keen to collect multi-layered plastics as it is considered as having no or limited value when compared to hard plastics and require more physical efforts for collection and segregation.
The barriers to MLP collection and segregation gave an impetus to the Indian Beauty & Hygiene Association (IBHA), to undertake extensive research and identify the root cause of the problem which was addressed by training and incentivizing waste-pickers to collect and segregate. They were incentivized by IBHA based on the weight of MLPs collected by them which provided them an additional avenue for them to become self-reliant and financially secure and many of them are apparently the only sole earners in the family. We also provided scholarships to waste pickers children so that they could have an opportunity for a better future.
It is heartening for us to see the impact of our program on the waste pickers and the eco-system that we have established, and how it has paved the way for others.
Q. How do you plan to scale this up further?
Mr. Dayal: IBHA’s ‘Zero Wastage’ – Plastic Waste Management (PWM) project is able to demonstrate that this is a scalable and sustainable model and can be easily replicated in other cities due to its feasibility, leading to a manifold impact.
We would like to see IBHA work hand in hand with municipalities and connecting them with recyclers to set up much larger recycling capacities within the municipal sheds or designated areas for waste management. We would also like to recommend the implementation of separate municipal bins for the collection of dry waste that includes the plastic for easy recycling.
We are speaking with several people in different cities to partner with us so that we expand this project to greater heights. We want to encourage corporates, NGOs, MLP recyclers to come forward and join us in this cause and we want to align with the government to support them in their endeavor of a clean and green India.
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