Counterfeit products misleading compostable/biodegradable market
After the Indian government banned single-use plastic products from July 2022, the compostable and biodegradable material market is witnessing significant demand and a long delivery period due to limited manufacturers and shortages.
Moreover, plastic processors are looking for cost-effective alternatives with panic to sustain their business.
Simultaneously, raw material dealers and traders are taking advantage of the situation and supplying many counterfeit products in the market without any validation from the recognized certifying agencies. They are just demonstrating test results to market their products.
Claiming that their additives can be added to any conventional polymer (like any grade of PP or PE) in the proportion of 1-2% and the whole material becomes degradable.
It only increases the overall cost of the material by ₹5-8 per kg. Some companies are even claiming that the additives will convert the plastic material into compostable. In addition, they also claim that after degradation, no microplastic or any harmful content is seen during testing; hence, it is 100% biodegradable.
I have only one response to all of them
if PP and PE can become biodegradable that easily, there is no need for the cost-intensive bioplastic industry. Biopolymers like PLA, PBAT, PBS, PHA, PHB, starch-based materials, etc. are unnecessary and useless, and the industry would never grow to this extent.
No one wants to pay 2-3 times more money for compostable products when PP or PE can become biodegradable with a low-cost solution. Furthermore, if it is an effective solution, why the government is not guiding all the processors to use it and sustain their business easily? why the recognized certifying agency is not coming forward to authenticate and endorse them? I have not seen any certificate for this product from CPCB, OK Compost (TUV AUSTRIA/VINCOTTE), DIN CERTCO or BPI.
I have witnessed that many plastic processors have become victims of this scam and started using the material to manufacture single-use plastic products. They even proudly and confidently market their product as biodegradable. They are completely unaware of what they are actually doing to the environment and government regulations. One by one, with the reference from processors, the industry is diverting to this low-cost solution of magic additive.
Recently, the government has released a draft to approve biodegradable products in addition to compostable products. After releasing it, the industry is becoming more confident to use the magic additives and make all plastic biodegradable.
Hence, before the implementation of the biodegradable rule, the industry started using it widely.
In this situation, the government should take necessary action and stop misleading the industry. Proper rules and regulations with a clear indication of products need to be declared. Moreover, government centres to solve confusion with technical solutions, awareness and guidance seminars, call centres to solve industry queries, industry gathering arrangements with experts, etc. are need of an hour to stop misleading the industry and market. This can be done jointly with environmentalists, corporates or big industry players, institutions and various government bodies for disseminating the knowledge to the industry and market. Otherwise, it will be more difficult for the industry and government to cope with the situation.
Currently, Industry feels uncertainty about what is happening, intended and required.