A workshop on understanding the plastics ‘death cycle’ – from fossil fuels to pollution

17–21 May, 2024


Big money is set to fuel the making of more plastics in India.  The industry has shown a consistent annual growth rate of 3.4% and is predicted to maintain the same growth rate until 2028. Interestingly, since 1990, India’s GDP growth rate has shown a consistent correlation with plastics consumption, which is used by the government and the plastics industry to link plastics consumption with India’s progress and development.

Turning off the tap in plastics would necessarily entail ending the production of raw materials used to produce these. The polymer industry is characterized by a few oligarchs who control not only the polymer industry but also the downstream production of plastics and how they are disposed of. This control encompasses the narrative in the media and also policies. It is imperative therefore that this segment of the polymer industry be held accountable for the implications of their businesses.

Currently, the FMCG MNCs refuse to publicly share the quantity of plastic packaging that they put out in any of their markets/territories. At the same time, most of them have announced targets for reducing their use of plastic in packaging and recycling certain quantities of this sold plastic.

The harmful impacts of plastic use and the pollution caused in its disposal phase are well documented. What needs specific attention, though, is the impact of plastic production on people, the environment, and the climate.

About the Workshop

Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA) and Sambhaavnaa Institute offer this workshop to help participants understand the relationship between fossil fuels and plastics. It also aims to help the participant understand what it takes to make plastics and the impact that it has on both the environment and humans in each stage of its death cycle: from oil exploration, transportation of crude oil, refining, manufacturing of petrochemicals (which are the raw materials for plastics), the production of plastics, consumption, and ‘disposal’.

The workshop will help participants explore these issues from the perspective of social and environmental justice. The evidence and data offered in this workshop will help build the participant’s knowledge of the themes covered.

Learning Goals

  1. Develop a critical perspective of the death cycle of the plastic, including the state-industry nexus
  2. Understand the relationship between fossil fuels and plastics
  3. Critically analyze how systems and policies sideline the environmental and social impacts of the petrochemical and plastics industries in favor of private profit-driven approaches.
  4. Understanding of the impacts along the plastic death cycle


The program shall use a variety of methodologies, including interactive lectures and discussions facilitated by subject experts, lived experience sharing by activists, film screenings and collective reflection, readings and presentations, and group and individual exercises, amongst others, to enable participants to reflect on their current understanding and help deepen the same.

Themes that will be covered

  1. Understanding the Fossil Economy
    1. How entrenched are we in the fossil economy, and what will it take to get us out of it?
    2. False solutions in the fossil economy and new forms of extraction
    3. Examining circular economy
  2. Petrochemical and Polymer Industry
    1. Plastics life span: Petrochemicals to plastics, global trends
    2. Polymer industry in India
    3. Who is financing polymers?
    4. Impact of polymer production on communities and workers
  3. Plastics Industry
    1. Plastics industry: structure, products, volumes
    2. Chemicals in plastics: science, health, and environmental impacts
    3. Single-use plastics: sachets, FMCGs, policy
    4. Plastic waste management
  4. Post-consumption management of plastics
    1. Overview of false solutions in plastics
    2. Waste to Energy: science, industry in India, and Impacts
  5. Overarching issues
    1. Reparation and remediation in the petrochemicals and plastics industry
    2. Global policy regime

Who is the workshop for

This is a call to all teachers, students, activists, community mobilizers, and citizens who are deeply concerned about this state of affairs today. We invite young minds to use this opportunity to sharpen their understanding and capacity to engage with their surroundings.

Language: The primary medium of communication will be in English

Resources Persons

CFA will anchor the workshop. Resource persons will include members of CFA’s oil and gas team and some thematic experts.

Chythenyen Devika Kulasekaran: Chythenyen is a senior . associate in the oil and gas team of CFA with a master’s degree in international relations. He works on issues of post-consumption management of plastics, with a specific focus on waste-to-energy projects.

Om Prakash Singh: Om Prakash is an advisor at the Centre for Financial Accountability. His interests are on topics related to climate crisis and environmental protection.

Swathi Seshadri: Swathi is the Director (Research) and Team Lead of oil and Gas at CFA.

Thematic Experts: We will have thematic experts on the fossil economy, health and climate impacts of petrochemicals and plastics, and post-consumption management of plastics.

About the Center for Financial Accountability: CFA seeks to critically analyze, document, and challenge the current developmental impact of financial institutions in India and South Asia. It also supports communities, movements, and people in India to hold financial institutions accountable for any negative impacts of their operations and to support and give voice to alternative perspectives on development and the role and responsibility of finance in India.

Sambhaavnaa Team

Dates and Venue: May 17–21, 2024, Sambhaavnaa Institute, VPO-Kandbari, Tehsil Palampur, District Kangra, PIN 176061, Himachal Pradesh

How to reach: Please visit: Getting here

For any other information:  WhatsApp or call: 889 422 7954 (between 10 am to 5 pm), or e-mail: programs@sambhaavnaa.org

Participant Contribution

We hope that participants will contribute an amount of Rs. 5,000 towards workshop expenses, inclusive of all on-site workshop costs: boarding, lodging, and all the materials used in the workshop.

Do not let money impede your application. Need-based fee waivers are available. We have a limited number of scholarships, so please apply for a fee waiver if you need it. Do remember that there may be others who need it more than you. The fee waiver will be offered to people from marginalized groups and non-funded social, political, or student movements.

To register for the workshop, please fill out this form.