With single use plastics on their way out, a total ban on the environmentally hazardous material may well see paper packaging making a swift comeback, a report released at the Paperex 2019 conference says. Organised by paper major Hyve India, the event saw industry executives agree that paper offers a sustainable option and can capture a fourth of the Rs 80,000 crore single use plastics market by 2025 in case of a total ban on the latter.
Packaging accounts for a third of India’s plastic consumption and 70 per cent of plastic packaging is turned into waste in a very short span.Uncollected plastic waste poses a huge threat to species on land and in water and single-use plastic bags and styrofoam containers can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, the study noted. In contrast, paper is eco-friendly green product and bio-degradable, it said, adding that the paper industry plants more trees than it harvests and primary raw materials are 100 per cent renewable.
According to the report from the industry, India generated 26,000 tonnes per day of plastic waste in 2017-18, of which only 60 per cent was recycled. The rest ended up as litter on roads, in landfills or streams. However, about a third of new paper comes from recycled paper and an equivalent amount from waste such as sawdust and scrap from lumber mills, the Paperex study said.
In India, 46 per cent of raw material used for paper manufacturing is recovered paper, 29 per cent is agro residue like bagasse and straw, and 29 per cent is plantation wood.“All (paper) mills are fulfilling their requirement through social forestry plantation on its own or through farmers,” a statement by the industry said.
According to the sector, the average cost of recycling of paper is Rs 32 per kilogram: Rs 20 for the cost of collecting paper trash and Rs 12 as conversion cost. In comparison, the cost of collection for plastic waste is Rs 30-36 per kg and recycling costs Rs 22-35 per kg, not to mention transportation costs.
“Paper industry is going through the transformation phase and now it uses less power and water due to technological changes. Cost of production of recycled paper is at least 30-40 per cent cheaper depending upon the location than the recycled plastic,” said J P Narain, VP, Indian Paper and Manufacturers Association and chief executive officer of Century Paper.
In India, 46 per cent of raw material used for paper manufacturing is recovered paper, 29 per cent is agro residue like bagasse and straw, and 29 per cent is plantation wood.