ImageUnion government is formulating a policy for traceability in packaging for the pharmaceutical sector. The traceability norms are expected to put an end to the undesirable use of recycled bottles by the pharmaceutical companies.

The government has taken the necessary inputs for framing the policy from All India Glass Manufacturers Federation (AIGMF). The policy will prevent the misuse of packaging by recycling and protect consumer from its harmful effects. In addition, it will avoid the contamination of medicines by stopping usage of unsafe recycled packaging.

The government will mandate the need for bar codes and RFID (radio frequency identification) technology in packaging in tracing products.

The second hand bottles used for pharmaceuticals, I.V. Fluids and injectable are washed by intermediaries and are unhygienic because such work is carried out in a highly polluted environment. Therefore, these recycled bottles are never free from bacterial formations.

Traceability by glass packaging industry in India refers to identifying the bottles with a particular period of manufacture. This will pinpoint the vintage of the bottle.

The preliminary discussion on the policy inputs are already through with the AIGMF. But the government is expected call on for another round of deliberations about this.

As a precursor to the government's efforts, AIGMF has decided to incorporate a 'marking' on the glass bottle which will declare the period of manufacture, Mukul Somany, joint managing director, Hindustan National Glass & Industries Ltd and senior vice president, AIGMF told Pharmabiz.

"Simultaneously, we will also be taking manufacturers of various products into confidence so that they support this cause. Pharma sector which includes Indian System of Medicine and food industry are the major consumers of the glass packaging and our task is to campaign for the manufacturing date mark with focus on the health and safety of the consumers. Various segments including doctors, NGOs, concerned ministries and Government officials will also be brought along so as to get better acceptability of the initiative," said SC Vishwakarma, president, AIGMF.

The Indian packaging market is quite different from the European and US where the same bottle is not used again. In India, re-use of glass bottle is prevalent in the pharma sector and hence, the basic business model differs in these segments.

Glass is the most eco-friendly packaging media which convey premium sense of use. It is an inert material which can store hazardous stuff. Glass industry in India has made a steady progress. Every bit of broken glass can be re-cycled to manufacture new glass with much lower consumption of energy and raw materials such as soda ash reduces the carbon footprint. Most of the raw materials are mined in rural and backward areas providing employment. The sector provides jobs to more than 5 million people.

As a representative body, the AIGMF has addressed all the issues relating to glass industry with related departments like the Indian Institute of Packaging, All India Institute of Hygiene & Public Health, Indian Medical Association Assocham, ICC, FICCI, CII, Union ministry of consumer affairs, Union ministry of health among others to find solutions, most suited to serve the interest of sector.

The size of the glass packaging industry is Rs 4,500 crore which is registering of eight to 10 per cent growth per annum. India has 20 leading glass manufacturers and a huge unorganized segment. There is also a huge export potential to Europe, US and rest of the world.