Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading an effort to ban plastics in India. On Oct. 2, plastic bags, cups, plates, small bottles, straws, and other single-use plastic packaging will become banned in India, according to multiple sources. Modi’s goal is to ban single-use plastics altogether by 2022, including imported items.
According to Reuters, nearly 50 percent of plastic worldwide ends up in the ocean where it causes marine life deaths and disrupts the human food chain. The ban in India will cut down on the country’s plastic consumption by 5-10 percent. Recyclable plastics will likely fill the void left by the Oct. 2 ban.
This ban may benefit bioplastics, specifically those that use corn starch, which can biodegrade within three to six months. Recently, researchers at the Department of Polymer and Surface Engineering, Mumbai, have asserted that corn starch bioplastics are the future of sustainable packaging.
Corn starch can be used for bioplastic products such as plastic bags and trays, and it is also commonly used as an ingredient in food and cosmetic products.
If demand increases substantially for corn-based bioplastics in India, the country may have to increase domestic corn production or corn imports to compensate. Importing greater amounts of pre-manufactured bioplastics products could also be an option.
India is the world’s seventh-largest corn producer, and all its corn is non-GM due to the country’s uncommon regulations, which forbid GM corn imports as well. Most Indian corn is consumed domestically.
While India’s annual corn imports vary depending on domestic production, the country has only averaged imports of 177 MT annually over the past five years.