Circular Economy and Plastic Neutrality in India

Circular economy principles and the emerging concept of plastic neutrality in India, highlight their potential to create a sustainable and plastic-free future.

Over the past ten years, there has been a growing emphasis on environmental awareness and sustainability. The United Nations Environment Division has been at the forefront of this movement, particularly in regard to reevaluating the use of plastics for a circular economy. Partnering with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, they established the New Plastics Economy Initiative in 2015. This initiative has fostered numerous collaborative projects involving consumer goods companies, plastic producers, and packaging manufacturers, all with the shared goal of preventing plastic from becoming waste or causing pollution.

The concept of a circular economy for plastics centers on innovation to ensure that all plastic packaging can be reduced, reused, or recycled. This approach aims to facilitate their continuous circulation within the economy, effectively keeping them out of the natural environment.

The Circular Economy: A Paradigm Shift

A circular economy is an alternative economic model that seeks to eliminate waste and maximize the value of resources by adopting a closed-loop system. Unlike the traditional linear economy, where products are made, used, and discarded, a circular economy focuses on designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible, and regenerating natural systems. 

In India, several initiatives have been launched to promote circular practices across industries, including the establishment of resource recovery parks, waste segregation and recycling programs, and eco-design initiatives.

Plastic Neutrality: A New Frontier

Plastic neutrality is a novel concept that has gained traction as a complementary approach to the circular economy. While the circular economy focuses on reducing and reusing plastic, plastic neutrality addresses the residual plastic footprint that is challenging to eliminate entirely. The idea behind plastic neutrality is to offset the amount of plastic generated by individuals, businesses, or products by investing in equivalent plastic waste removal and recycling initiatives.

India and Plastics

India, with a population of 1.4 billion, is presently facing a substantial environmental challenge resulting from the excessive utilization and inadequate management of plastic waste. Recycling of plastic waste in the country stands at less than 60 percent, resulting in severe environmental deterioration and contributing to water, soil, and marine pollution. After China and the United States, India ranks as the third-largest producer of single-use plastics.

Government Initiatives and Policy Frameworks

The Indian government has taken several steps to drive change. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission), launched in 2014, aims to promote waste segregation, recycling, and sustainable waste management practices across the country. Additionally, the Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 and the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework have been instrumental in holding producers accountable for their plastic waste and encouraging them to adopt more sustainable packaging alternatives.

Challenges and Opportunities

However, the issue lies in the fact that companies often self-declare their efforts in plastic recovery and recycling, without independent verification, leading to the potential for misleading plastic claims.

Acknowledging the complexity of plastic waste management, consumer goods companies recognize the need for a significant shift in their business models, processes, and supply chain management. Substantial investments in research and development are also necessary to develop new technologies for effective plastic waste recovery and recycling.

conscious consumer

Presently, a critical challenge faced by many companies is the lack of recycling centers available in all states of India, hindering their efforts to manage plastic waste efficiently.

For consumers, the task of discerning the authenticity of a company’s plastic claims presents its own challenge. A global study conducted in 2021 by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) revealed that nearly 40 percent of brands make false claims regarding their sustainability and environmentally-friendly practices. This makes it difficult for consumers to trust and verify the credibility of such claims.

Case Studies

In India, some brands like Ed-A-Mamma, Juicy Chemistry, and Tea Trunk have kept an option for the customers to contribute some extra amount during purchasing from their websites. This extra amount is used to recover plastic waste from landfills. However, these brands collaborated with The Disposal Company.


By adopting circular practices, India can reduce its environmental footprint, conserve natural resources, and promote a more responsible and conscious way of living. Plastic neutrality, in conjunction with circular economy principles, offers a holistic approach to managing plastic waste and fosters collective responsibility among individuals, businesses, and the government. 

The Disposal Company is leading the way in climate action in India, providing brands with a revolutionary platform that allows them to achieve plastic neutrality and carbon neutrality. Click here to discover how.

Mousona Poddar

A passionate Content Writer who helps to scale your business by words with excellent research skills.

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