Indian surfactant companies place sustainability at the top of their concerns as the pandemic turns a corner in the country and consumption is set to rise, according to a new report by Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS).

India’s economy is growing, according to the 3 November report, and demographic advantage makes industry players confident of robust long-term growth in demand.

Against a backdrop of rising plastic consumption, the role of surfactant players in India was to reduce plastics, use less plastics in the supply chain, and to tap into recycled plastics in the supply chain, Avinash Nandanwar, head of sourcing at Galaxy Surfactants, was quoted as saying.

As part of its green drive, the company was persuading customers to shift from taking small barrels or drums, he said.

“Why not take supplies in bulk shipments [instead]?” Nandanwar said during a panel discussion at the ICIS European & Asian Surfactants Conference held virtually on 26-27 October.

Speaking at the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 1 November, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi said that the country would achieve the target of net-zero emissions by 2070.

Modi vowed to reduce the carbon intensity of India’s economy to less than 45% and reduce its total projected carbon emissions by 1bn tonnes by 2030, ICIS wrote.

India is the last of the world’s major carbon polluters to announce a net-zero target, according to the report, following China’s 2060 target set 10 years previously and 20 years after the 2050 target of both the USA and the European Union.

Reliant on coal for about 70% of its power generation, India’s net zero pledge was two decades beyond what scientists say was needed to avert catastrophic climate impacts, ICIS wrote.

India ranks third in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) after China and the USA, according to the report.

Against this backdrop, the demand outlook for surfactants in India remains positive, according to the report, supported by rapid urbanisation and a young population.

Another factor is that per capita consumption in the country is far below the developed world’s level, the report said, offering scope for growth.