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New Delhi: Indian consumers are aware of the impact single-use plastic has on the environment, but many say they have little access to information that could help reduce plastic usage and waste, a recent study by Mintel has found.

Two-thirds (roughly 72%) of those surveyed by the market intelligence firm said they are aware and concerned about the issue of single-use plastic. However, nearly 79% of them said there's very little information on reducing packaging waste. Mintel research looked at food packaging trends involving Indian consumers.

Interestingly, Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD), found that 82% of food launches in India in the last five years have used plastics as a primary packaging material.

More Indians expect brands to reduce single-use plastic in their packaging, the research found.

“As many as 39% of Indian consumers expect brands to reduce the amount of plastics used in packaging and 44% say more brands should implement sustainability practices, placing the responsibility squarely in the hands of companies and brands," it said.

India has been working towards curbing the use of single use plastic. The country has been contemplating a phased ban on single-use item. However, replacing it entirely is a herculean task given the cost-efficiency and the widespread usage of single-use plastic.

In 2019, top fast moving consumer goods companies including Coca-Cola, Diageo, Bisleri, PepsiCo among others announced their participation in a plastic waste management entity called “Karo Sambhav". The entity has been developed by PACE or Packaging Association for Clean Environment, an industry body, which will work towards recycling packaging material, collection of post-consumer packaging, work across a network of recovery facilities, and converge resources currently being used by its existing members to tackle plastic packaging waste material. In the same year—Parle Agro, the maker of Frooti and Appy Fizz, said it will invest 50 crore over the next three years to implement a PET plastic waste management (PWM) program.

“Plastic is often the material of choice when it comes to food packaging thanks to its versatility, functional properties and cost-efficiency. The widespread usage of plastics in food packaging indicates that it's largely not viable to eliminate plastics entirely. Brands need to make responsible use of plastics in their packaging," said Rushikesh Aravkar, Associate Director, Food and Drink Consumer Reports, South APAC, Mintel.

When it comes to packaged food, consumers value the naturalness of food (39%), along with longer shelf life, a sought-after attribute of packaging. Mintel's research said that for two in five Indians (44%), a longer shelf life would make them choose one product over another.

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