Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President of India at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology, in Chennai on January 24, 2019.

Chennai | January 24, 2019

"It is indeed a great pleasure and privilege to be a part of this historic occasion of the Golden Jubilee Celebration of one of the premiere national institutions. “Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology (CIPET)” - an organization devoted to development of Plastics and allied industries. I would first like to congratulate the governing body, the Director General, employees and students of CIPET on this momentous occasion.

I understand that in its 50 years, CIPET has trained about 4 lakh plastic machinery operators and 50,000 technicians, apart from producing over 5,000 polymer engineers. I am told that most of the trainees are from economically weaker sections of the society and many of them are holding senior positions in the plastics and allied industries in the country as well as globally.

I am happy to note that CIPET has more than 70,000 alumni in India and abroad occupying key positions. CIPET-trained entrepreneurs are playing a key role in the development of import substitution products, thereby saving foreign exchange and promoting the use of plastics for human comfort. I am told that more than two lakhs unemployed / under-employed youth had been trained and benefited by the skill development programmes held by the institute during the last five years.

I am aware that 16 new centres of CIPET are being set up across the country since 2015-16 in order to meet the skill requirement of the growing petrochemical industry in the country.

Dear sisters and brothers, plastics pose an essential development dilemma.

On the one hand, there is a quest for improving the quality of life by better material comforts. On the other hand, indiscriminate use of plastics threatens to seriously erode the sources of our sustenance. There has to be a proper appreciation of the appropriate use of different plastics. There is a growing recognition that quality of life depends on our environment, the water we use, the air we breathe and the food we eat.

The need for better quality of life has been driving the human race to look for new and improved materials with the development of value added commodities. This development has led to the growth of plastic-based products which have become an integral and important part of the global economy today due to their low weight, durability and versatility.

In view of their versatility and ubiquitous presence, plastics have transformed our everyday life. Plastics are light and chemically resistant and have been recognized as a flawless building material for numerous products in the construction industry, aeronautics, electronics, transportation, energy conservation, packaging, scientific components as well as medical sector which constitute major sectors of the economy.

Continuous advancements and developments in polymeric materials, plastic processing machinery, innovations as well as cost-effective manufacturing techniques have been replacing the conventional materials in different segments with plastics.

I am happy that CIPET has been collaborating with a number of institutions like the Medical Universities to produce prototypes of disposables and medical equipment. These collaborations need to be taken forward if we have to promote Indian manufacturing and make healthcare more affordable in our country.The use of plastics has revolutionized the healthcare industry. Doctors are now able to provide medical solutions with enhanced features and functionality. Disposable plastic syringes, blood bags, new heart valves and other medical devices are some of the best examples in which plastics have been used. Today’s artificial knees and hips rely on plastics in order to provide people with pain-free movement and trouble-free joints.

All of you are aware that plastics are versatile and can be tailor-made to suit any specific application. Besides providing higher ‘strength to weight’ ratio as compared to conventional materials, a life-cycle analysis of plastic products indicates that these substances not only save significant amounts of energy and water but also emit lower quantum of green house gases.

Plastics have largely benefited our society in a number of ways: plastics have helped aeronautics technology to take giant steps forward over the past 50 years, including advancements in satellites, shuttles, aircraft and missiles. Civilian air travel in the country as well as military air power and space exploration has improved.

Plastics have been used in cars since 1950s—originally in sports cars to improve agility and to increase speed. Today, plastics help make cars safer and more efficient since they are present in crucial safety areas such as seatbelts, airbags and crumple zones. Carbon fiber reinforced plastic can absorb 6–12 times as much energy as steel since 10% weight reduction in vehicles can increase fuel economy by 8%, making carbon fiber-reinforced plastics a great choice for automakers. India is expected to have the fourth largest auto components industry by 2025.

One of the latest technologies i.e. 3D printing is used for making the complex geometry of plastics components easily. This is the technology where replicates of artificial, functional human parts can be made. These days, tissue engineering and implants fully rely upon the plastic materials.

No doubt, the plastic industry clearly plays a vital role in the growth of Indian economy. The average consumption of plastics is roughly 13 kilograms per capita per year. I am told the current trend in India's plastic exports seems highly encouraging and that plastics exports will be much above USD 8 billion in 2018-19, a 6 per cent increase from USD 7.56 billion in 2017-18.

The country's plastics industry also offers immense potential in terms of capacity, infrastructure and skilled manpower. India is currently ranked among the top five consumers of polymers in the world and has 30,000 plus plastic processing units employing over four million people across the country.

CIPET acts as a bridge to fill the technological gap between the Indian and global polymer industries. In line with the change in industrial environment and needs of the industries, CIPET needs to constantly upgrade and update its facilities with latest technological developments in the field of Polymer Science & Technology for the benefit of Indian polymer industries to compete globally. It may focus more on developing indigenous technologies and innovations on products in order to support automotive, aerospace and health care industries to facilitate export growth.

It is expected that the plastic sector will account for 20 per cent of total oil consumption and 15 per cent of the global annual carbon budget by 2050. At the end of the day, it might not be possible to avoid the use of plastics.

While there are a number of positive aspects of plastics, they pose several challenges to our environment.

Convenience items that are intended for single use are being continually discarded to the landfills; littering our landscapes, thereby creating threats for aquatic and marine life. Also improper littering habits and lack of awareness on Plastics Waste Management has resulted in many hazards.

It has to be ensured that plastics are used responsibly and recycled properly. If we look at the growth and development of the petrochemical sector, usage of plastics has increased twenty-fold in the past half-century and is expected to double again in the next 20 years.

We should adopt better waste management technologies, involving a circular economy approach, where used plastic becomes a feedstock rather than a waste. It is also important to replace conventional plastics with biodegradable polymers and the focus of CIPET should be in that direction.

On this occasion, I would like to advice CIPET to take necessary initiatives in creating awareness and educating people on the need to recycle, repurpose and reuse plastic items. I would also like CIPET to make sustainability a guiding principle in all its endeavours. I am glad that CIPET had organized various national level seminars on “Plastics Recycling & Waste Management” in different parts of the country to create awareness amongst NGOs and general public about disposal of plastics waste in a scientific and efficient manner.

Reduce, reuse and recycle should be the mantra for minimising the deleterious impact of plastics on environment. While harnessing the benefits of plastics, there is every need to ensure that they finally don't end up in oceans. There is no other alternative if we have to handover a safer, cleaner and a healthier planet to posterity. Economics is fine, but what about environment? This should be the uppermost thought in the minds of those dealing with plastics.

I extend my greetings and good wishes to you all on this momentous occasion of CIPET Golden Jubilee celebrations."