Hemant Minocha: Today, India has perhaps one of the highest recycling rates as can be seen with PET bottles

Hemant Minocha, the chairman of Plexconcil speaks to WhatPackaging? magazine about India’s first ever international plastics export exhibition, Plexconnect 2023, which was held from 14-17 June at Nesco, Mumbai. Minocha talks about the business inquiries which were valued at USD 16.1 million, and the industry wishlist

05 Jul 2023 | By Aditya Ghosalkar

Hemant Minocha: Plexconnect 2023 was attended by over 400 buyers from 51 countries.

Aditya Ghosalkar (AG): What has been the feedback that you have received from the Plexconnect 2023 show?
Hemant Minocha (HM):
The initial feedback received for Plexconnect 2023 has been quite positive both from exhibitors as well as buyers.

AG: In what way?
I am happy to inform you that the event generated business inquiries valued at over USD16.1 million, and business orders valued at about USD 5.3 million. The event facilitated more than four thousand one-to-one meetings between the exhibitors and international buyers through the Reverse Buyer Seller Meet (RBSM). Both buyers and exporters expressed satisfaction with their discussions. The RBSM was supported by the Department of Commerce, Government of India.

AG: What about the response from the exhibitors?
The enthusiasm among exhibitors is high. About 85% of the exhibitors have expressed their willingness to participate in future editions of this event. A large segment of the exhibitors mentioned that the design and planning of Plexconnect 2023 was at par with international shows. Buyers feedback has been equally encouraging. They were impressed with the quality of products being showcased and the manufacturing practices being followed by the Indian firms.

AG: Around 400 international buyers from 51 countries attended Plexconnect?
Plexconnect 2023 was attended by 400+ buyers from across 51 countries. There were business delegations from South Korea, Israel, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, Cameroon, Azerbaijan, Nepal and Uzbekistan.

AG: What was the highlight?
As per our findings, nearly 50 factory visits have taken place by some of the overseas buyers who took part in Plexconnect 2023.

Hemant Minocha: Waste management is everybody's problem and the solution lies with us all

AG: Any specific projects which were inked at the show?
I think it is too early for us to comment on specific projects and orders that were inked during the show. A vast number of our industry comprises MSME businesses and we hope that a platform such as Plexconnect will help them with their global outreach and business growth.

AG: The Union Minister of State for Commerce, Anupriya Patel mentioned that the government and the ministry will be very supportive of the plastic industry. But as an industry, does the Indian plastic industry need ease of non-agricultural land acquisition, uninterrupted electricity, duty structure amendments, foreign exchange stability and a few policy corrections plus support from the government? Your view?
I think these points on land acquisition, uninterrupted electricity, duty structure amendments, foreign exchange stability are relevant for all the industries and not just plastics.

AG: Your wishlist?
The Government of India has a scheme to support setting up need-based Plastic Parks, with requisite state-of-the-art infrastructure, enabling common facilities through cluster development approach, to consolidate the capacities of the domestic downstream plastic processing industry. The scheme aims to increase investment, production and export in the plastics sector. Till date ten such Plastic Parks have been approved in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.

Further, under the ODOP - Districts as export hubs initiative, plastics products with export potential have also been identified and manufacturers based in these districts are being accorded guidance and support to grow their business. Therefore, we believe that the Government of India is taking the right steps to boost the plastics industry.

AG: The Union Minister of State for Commerce, Anupriya Patel said India has emerged as a major hub for the world to source their requirements. The country would achieve the target of two trillion-dollar exports as the nation turns into a five trillion-dollar economy. In this sense, FTA will be a big boon. What is the update on the negotiations, which are in progress with several countries?
India, traditionally a supporter of the multilateral trading system, seemed wary of FTAs until the early 2000s. However, over the last few years India has tweaked its strategy on free trade pacts and is busy negotiating new ones with several early-harvest deals aimed at boosting exports and making domestic industry competitive.

In the last three-four years, we have signed comprehensive agreements with Mauritius, Australia and the UAE. We are negotiating FTAs with the UK, Canada, and the European Union among others. There is so much happening in our country that the whole world is looking at India.

AG: True. Any challenge?
India should remain cautious in signing the new-age free trade agreements that are being negotiated as they are broad in terms of scope and include topics like agriculture market access, labour, gender equality, digital trade, intellectual property rights, dispute settlement, anti-competitive behaviour, environment and sustainability, among others.

AG: The Indian plastic industry is on a growth path. How do we make packaging innovation more effective / sustainable?
Without a certain amount of risk, there cannot be an upside. India has been engaged in R&D across the board for many decades now.

AG: This was not the case earlier?
In the past, few companies used to invest in innovation. This is no longer the case. If we look around and with the boom in startups, there are new concepts, ideas and products being developed every day. The same may be said for the plastics industry and we are seeing increased investments in innovation.

This is predominantly attributed to two reasons - one is that in order to remain ahead of the competition, Innovation is a must. Secondly, with growing awareness of environmental impact, the plastics processing industry is constantly seeking effective solutions to manage product lifecycle in a manner that supports circularity.

AG: Is it possible to de-risk innovation at the research stage?
De-risking at the innovation stage is something that we have been seeing a lot. I feel this will continue.

AG: Transit losses due to damages and pilferage in transit probably do not receive the attention that it deserves. Is Plexconcil considering any initiatives in packaging that focus on addressing these issues?
As an industry body, there is not much we can say in this regard. Exporters need to ensure their cargo is adequately protected for transit/ exports. Insurance is a must too and the onus to ensure the same is on the exporter.

AG: What is Plexconcil's take on sustainability? Some of the plastic waste is easily recyclable but some plastics are difficult to recycle ...
Plexconcil is fully supportive and we promote sustainable practices within our industry. Most plastics, except single-use plastics which are now banned, are recyclable. The benefits that plastics offer far outweigh the damage it can cost. However, due to unmindful disposal practices of the past (use and throw culture) have caused the issue of pollution that we face today. Today, India has perhaps one of the highest recycling rates as can be seen in the PET bottles case.

AG: Technology-wise, how can we make India on par with the rest of the world for plastic recycling processes?
There are numerous brand owners who work with tech-based recycling companies such as Banyan Nation, and many others who are integrating members of the value chain to ensure proper recycling today. Many such companies have found ways to synergise the unorganised and organised sector as the recycling process starts with collection, sorting and segregation.

Companies are adopting a waste to value approach. There is a lot of awareness among the industry and by investing in best practices there is a conscious effort to reduce waste and focus on energy savings. India has the technologies (mechanical, chemical) and a lot is being done. However, the entire ecosystem and all stakeholders, including consumers need to come together to tackle the waste problem. It's a more efficient system that we need to build.

AG: Some municipalities follow proper systems. As an industry (and civil society) do we decide on what system to follow? For example, pyrolysis ..
Plastics processors registered under EPR need to follow guidelines laid out by the CPCB and State pollution boards. The number of registrations have been gradually increasing. Meanwhile, most processors work on waste reduction at source and sort and recycle waste as per guidelines set.

AG: Any plastic message that you can share which may be relevant for India?
HM: Awareness, education and communication is key to managing waste and all stakeholders need to work more efficiently to tackle what is a societal problem. Whether as organisations, government or individual consumers, waste management is everybody's problem and the solution lies with us all. It is important to push new boundaries in terms of innovation as well as adopt sustainable business practices to remain relevant and successful in the long run.

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Which is the sustainable packaging product among MSMEs that is most popular?


Which is the sustainable packaging product among MSMEs that is most popular?

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