India's largest flexible packaging firm Uflex Ltd. is launching two environmental initiatives, investing about 50 million Indian rupees (€643,000) in a pyrolysis plant at its Noida site to turn plastic film waste into oil and gearing up to open a plastics recycling facility.
The company said the pyrolysis operation, which has the capacity to process 6 tons a day of waste from the factory's film and packaging lines, is in line with the government's Plastics Waste Management Rules 2016.
Those rules call for responsible disposal of plastic waste and put producers and generators of such waste under an extended producer responsibility plan.
"The objective is to make the Noida site a zero waste discharge plant," said SS Parmar, Uflex's senior vice president for energy.
In a February note to investors, Uflex Chairman Ashok Chaturvedi said it is part of wider environmental plans underway at the firm. He said the company's customers in the fast-moving consumer goods sector are pushing for more recyclable or biodegradable packaging.
Pyrolysis is commonly used to convert organic materials into liquid fuel, gases and solid residue containing carbon black. Uflex said it processes a mixture of 70% biaxially oriented polypropylene film and 30% polyester film to generate 45% oil, 45% gas and 10% carbon black.
"The plant operates on seven lines and each of the seven boilers requires 3,500 kilograms of oil each day," Parmar said.
The company said the pyrolysis operation started in October and produces a fraction of the daily requirement of oil each day. While the Noida plant generates about 10 tonnes of laminated waste daily, only 6 tonnes are being used for the production of alternate fuels.
Uflex said it is the first Indian plastics processor to install a pyrolysis operation inside its compound. Pyrolysis is prevalent in tire manufacturing in the country.
"We have been paying for the transportation of the laminated waste to cement sites, whereas, now we are using it as raw material in generating alternative fuel for our own consumption," Parmar said.
Uflex wants the government to come up with policies favourable to the waste-to-oil and other sustainability initiatives.
"If oil produced by the pyrolysis process finds widespread application as an alternative industrial fuel with government support, this could alter the whole scenario," he said.
Meanwhile, the Noida-headquartered firm also plans to set up a dedicated plastics recycling site in Noida or the surrounding area.
"We have applied with Noida authorities about three months back for building the recycling plant on a 12-acre plot and awaiting necessary approvals," Parmar said.
Such a plant could be functional in six months once approved, he said.
The company is seeking government assistance in setting up collection centres for plastic waste.