Plastics have revolutionized our lives, creeping into every nook and corner of our homes and offices. However, India’s per capita consumption of plastics is still 6 kg compared to 25 kg in developed countries. Consumer plastics mainly comprise polymers such as polypropylene, high and low density polyethylene, and vinyl chloride. Broadly plastics can be classified into two types namely Thermosetting and Thermoplastic. The type of plastics includes HDPE, LDPE, PVC, PP, PS, PETE and vinyl plastics, to name a few.
The plastics industry is highly fragmented. There are about 22,000 plastic processing units, of which three-fourth are in the small –scale sector, which also accounts for a quarter of the total polymer consumption. About 30 per cent of the total polymer consumption accounts for recycled plastic. Plastics have a high volume –to-weight ratio, which makes their collection and transport a major cost factor.
The Indian plastics industry has been growing at a phenomenal rate of 15 per cent over the years. Thus its potential is being utilized properly. The boost in the plastics industry is due to the rapid growth of segments like electronics, packaging, healthcare, consumer durables and telecommunication sectors.Annually around six million tonnes of plastic is produced in the country, with the plastic packaging sector growing fastest.
Reliance Industries Ltd., Gas Authority of India and petrochemicals are major producers of polymers in India. RIL, Asia’s largest manufacturer of polypropylene with a combined capacity of over one million tonnes, holds 70 per cent market share.
India will be the third largest plastics consumer after the US and China by 2010 at over 12 million.Plastic goods consumption is expected to double in the next three years. Experts have predicted that India’s market for finished plastic goods will reach $300 billion by 2012, while exports are expected to reach a level of $200 billion in the same period. India ranks highest in recycling of plastics with 60 per cent of plastic recycled compared with a world average of 20 per cent. Experts have estimated thatthe basic demand for plastic would be boosted over the next years by the housing, automobile and retail sectors.