ITC's Circular Economy Initiatives


Waste generation in India has soared steeply, a result of many factors - a large and growing population, rapid and unplanned urbanisation and rising consumption levels. However, waste disposal and management infrastructure has lagged severely, creating a massive problem. The traditional method of managing resources, known as the linear economy model or "take-make-dispose," has proven to be unsustainable in the long term due to the rapid depletion of resources and the accumulation of waste. Heaps of waste are a common sight in towns and cities and the majority goes untreated into landfills - a serious public health risk, environmental hazard and an enormous waste of resources.

Proper waste management depends on public behaviour. It requires every citizen to be aware and act responsibly to ensure proper segregation and disposal. Any waste management programme requires focus on building awareness and driving behaviour change among citizens.

The Programme - ITC's Circularity initiatives

Recognising the urgency of the issue, ITC has implemented innovative, sustainable and scalable solutions to tackle the solid waste challenge, including plastic waste. ITC's approach to waste management is based on the principles of circularity, which involves designing products and processes that minimise waste and maximise the value extracted from resources. By adopting a circular approach, ITC is able to reduce its environmental footprint while also achieving greater efficiency and cost savings. ITC also focuses on building awareness and driving behaviour change through training of volunteers called Swachh Doots, who make door-to-door visits to educate families, educating waste workers, conducting school and pubic campaigns.

ITC focuses on reducing waste across its operation through constant monitoring and improvement of efficiencies in material utilisation. ITC also ensures segregation of waste at source and channelising it to suitable recycling streams.

Moreover, ITC is also working towards optimising packaging in a way that reduces the environmental impact arising out of post-consumer packaging waste without affecting product integrity. This is being addressed in a comprehensive manner by optimising packaging design, introducing recycled content in packaging, identifying alternative packaging material with lower environmental impact and supporting development of suitable end-of-life solutions for packaging waste.

WOW (Well-being Out of Waste)

ITC's flagship WOW programme is a public private partnership with municipalities and communities that is turning once unsanitary waste threatened neighbourhoods into clean and healthy environments. A unique source segregation and collection pathway, WOW works towards a circular economy, one which re-consumes its waste.

The programme promotes awareness about the importance of source segregation and recycling. It encourages behaviour change, which is critical to sustain a community movement towards reducing pollution.

WOW transforms waste into wellbeing in a sustainable way by rewarding all stakeholders, particularly waste handlers and ragpickers who now have enhanced livelihoods and creates new opportunities for recycling entrepreneurs. Working with common purpose and benefiting all sections of society, WOW is helping to make the national Swachh Bharat mission a reality.

WOW's recycling system

  • Waste Segregation by Households
  • Preliminary Category-wise Segregation by Waste Collection Workers
  • Sorting at Dry Resource Collection Centres (DRCCs)
  • Super Franchisees - Large-scale Waste Aggregators

Solid Waste Management

In addition to the WOW initiative, ITC contributes to the Swachh Bharat Mission through its Solid Waste Management (SWM) programme that is part of its Social Investments Programme, Mission Sunehra Kal. ITC's SWM models are based on four key pillars:

  • driving behaviour change through awareness creation for managing waste at source with the involvement of community
  • collaboration with Urban Local Bodies and Panchayats to enable door-to-door collection of segregated waste,
  • supporting sustainable livelihoods for workers who collect waste, in turn, empowering them with better working conditions and
  • identifying and implementing appropriate end-of-life solutions for each waste stream.

The programme has SWM models for towns, villages and temples to manage both wet and dry waste, and minimise waste to landfill.

Sustainable Packaging

ITC is working to improve recyclability, optimise packaging, and explore sustainable alternatives to plastic. Additionally, the Company is leveraging synergies between its Life Sciences and Technology Centre (LSTC), and Paperboards & Packaging and FMCG businesses for sustainable packaging solutions.

  • ITC has spearheaded a multitude of sustainable packaging solutions. ITC's sustainable products portfolio comprises recyclable paperboards, 'FiloPack' and 'FiloServe', and industrially compostable paperboards, 'OmegaBev' and 'OmegaBarr', which are alternatives to plastic coated containers, cups and other deep freeze applications. To considerably replace plastic containers that are used while delivering food, ITC has introduced the paperboard-based 'IndoBowl'. Additionally, it has innovated the 'WrapWell' food wrapping paper roll, which is food-grade and eco-friendly.
  • ITC has increased the PCR (post-consumer recycled plastic) content in packaging of Personal Care Products. Fiama Shower Gel bottles now uses 50% R-PET, thus reducing virgin plastic use and Vivel Ved Vidya Soap uses 100% recyclable packaging. Savlon uses 70% recycled plastic material in the PET film of its glycerin soap wrappers while Engage Cologne cartons have been eliminated to make the secondary packaging into 100% Paper-based recyclable cartons.
  • ITC has also launched Aashirvaad Organic Whole Wheat Atta (1kg Pack) in a paper-based bag made from 55% paper, the first paper-based pack in the atta category while that of Aashirvaad Iodized Salt has transitioned to 100% mono material PE laminate from multi layered PET/PE laminate in select variants. Furthermore, under the 'Terra by YiPPee!' initiative, ITC launched eco-friendly lifestyle products that include laptop sleeves, tote bags and stationery pouches, hand-produced from upcycled YiPPee! snack wrappers. The packaging of Sunfeast Yippee! Power Up Noodles, too, has transitioned to 100% mono material PP laminate from multi layered PET/PE laminate outer pack and PET/Met PET/PE inner sachet. ITC MasterChef Frozen Snacks has transitioned to 100% Mono Material PE Laminate from Multi Layered PET/PE Laminate in select variants and B Natural Juices now uses 25% Recycled Content Shrink Wrap in Secondary Packaging.

Impact and Outcome

  • Less than 0.1% of ITC's packaging portfolio is non-recyclable or hard to recycle; the Company is planning to phase these out.
  • WOW has covered over 22 million citizens in over 5.5 million households and promoted sustainable livelihoods for over 17,750 waste collectors. About 64,000 MT of dry waste was collected from 1,270 wards in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Chennai, Delhi, major towns of Telangana and several districts of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The SWM initiative covers over 25 lakh households in 33 districts of 10 states, actively composting and recycling wet and dry waste and preventing it from going to landfills.
  • The Green Temple Initiative, a closed loop waste management model, has been expanded to cover 950 places of worship to process waste from temples to provide biogas and compost.

Sustainability 2.0 goals

The Sustainability 2.0 agenda reimagines sustainability under the pressing challenges of climate change and social inequity. It calls for inclusive strategies that can support sustainable livelihoods, pursue newer ways to fight climate change, enable the transition to a net zero economy, work towards ensuring water security for all and create an effective circular economy for post-consumer packaging waste. It also entails protecting and restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services through adoption of nature-based solutions.

With regard to circularity, the Sustainability 2.0 agenda envisages

  • 100% of packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable/ bio-degradable by 2028 (99.9% of ITC's packaging meets this target).
  • Plastic Neutrality to enable sustainable management of waste in excess of the amount of packaging utilised (ITC turned Plastic Neutral in 2021).
ITC Brands