Indian Paper Industry Stands the Test of Time

The COVID-19 pandemic, within a space of two years, has severely impacted the world economy, particularly the industrial manufacturing sector.

The global paper industry has been seeing a growing trend where publication paper is losing out to packaging paper, simply as a result of the pandemic where there is an increased demand for online purchase – from food to pharma – which in turn has boosted the packaging industry. As a result, publication machines are being decommissioned and rebuilt for producing packaging boards.

Newspapers and magazines, the world over, have cut down on pages and print runs triggering a crash in the demand for global newsprint and lightweight coated magazine papers.

The Indian Scenario  

While leading North American and European paper manufacturers are focused on premium quality papers based on virgin pulp, the scenario in India is quite different, showing a greater demand for recycled newsprint, recycled inputs and sustainable virgin fiber for a variety of paperboards, and recycled liner for corrugation.

Indian paper manufacturers have shown a capability in sustainable and traceable fiber sourcing from agro forestry without encroaching on forest land. However, apart from some of the leading manufacturers, there seems to be little interest in structured investment in quality improvement of newsprint and corrugation liner for packaging cartons.

Delhi-based Indian Paper Manufacturers Association (IPMA), the apex and national-level body, representing the resurgent and organized face of the paper industry in India, stresses on the need for agro forestry. Wood pulp from trees has in the past led to deforestation which had its detrimental effects on the environment at large. IPMA sees usage of paper as environment friendly – being recyclable, biodegradable, and produced from sources that are sustainable.

According to Rohit Pandit, IPMA Secretary General, the argument that the use of paper implies deforestation and is harming the environment is devoid of any scientific basis. In fact, the paper manufacturing industry has joined hands with farmers to grow more trees under the agro-farm forestry programme. “The paper industry in India can be called wood positive, as it grows more trees than it can harvest,” adds Pandit.

In the Indian paper market, demand for paper and related products has a healthy CAGR. Leading Indian paper manufacturing companies have been able to upgrade the production quality of paper, understanding local demand and the need for change to better quality paper and boards. The very logic of the paper industry in India has changed over the years, providing a wide variety of products and solutions, be it in e-commerce, food packaging, white goods, or pharmaceuticals.

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