KOCHI: There is a dilemma regarding the environmental-friendliness of the non-woven covering paper that is widely used to cover text and notebooks in schools. The key features of polypropylene covering paper include absorbency, resilience and strength. They are also resistant to bacterial degradation.
However, Kurian P Issac, Proprietor of Samson Graphics, said, “The usual brown paper in the market has a plastic lamination of 2-4 microns. But non-woven fabric paper contains 50-60 microns and are made from polypropylene. Though they claim to be environmental friendly, they are actually toxic to the environment.”
However, the manufacturers refuted these allegations. “Non-woven fabric has a water-filtering capacity so the water does not clog as it seeps through it. They turn into powder after being exposed to the sunlight for 30-40 days,” said Jose Varghese, manager of JJ Fabrics, Aluva.
Kurian also said, “The tag of environment-friendly fabric is not justified as they produce toxic fumes on burning and adds to air pollution. The powdered residue, after being exposed to the sun, does not degrade further and remains in the soil.”
In reply, Jose Varghese said, “The powdered residue remains in the soil but till now, no side-effects have been reported. Even though the covering paper melts on burning, it does not produce any fumes. I won’t say that it is eco-friendly, but it is definitely environmental-friendly.” Recently, there was a controversy about the tax of non-woven fabrics, which was raised from 0 to 14.5 per cent due to the plastic content in the non-woven fabrics. The current price of non-woven fabric is Rs 120 per kg. The price of a single roll ranges from Rs 45 to Rs 50.
Many schools have made this type of covering paper compulsory for all students assuming that they are environment-friendly.The principal of St. Xaviers Public School, Angamaly, Fr Soji Joseph Cherusseril, said, “This type of covering paper is student friendly. Even though the students subject the books to rough use, the covers are not damaged as it is long-lasting. We are not aware of any environmental hazards caused by using it.” The students are also happy. “Using this type of covering paper is difficult, but it lasts for a year without damage,” said Remin Cherian, a student.