Packaging major UFlex had announced plans of setting up a U-shape paper straw manufacturing unit at its Asepto liquid packaging plant in Sanand in Gujarat in collaboration with Netherlands-based Tembo Paper in April this year. The Asepto-Tembo alliance is likely to bear fruit in August or September 2022, as stated by Ashwani Sharma president and CEO of the Uflex-owned Asepto aseptic liquid packaging business.
Packaging South Asia visited the Asepto Sanand plant on 15 June 2022 to observe the preparations for the installation of the first paper straw line at the facility. We then caught up with Sharma at the UFlex office in Noida on 20 June where he said, “We were the first company actually to start thinking of putting up a large capacity or organized paper straw manufacturing facility in India. We conceived this project two years back and obviously, a project of this size takes time to put in place. A project of around six billion straws annually is as good as the total market size of India and hopefully, this project will be up and running in totality starting in Q2 of this financial year. Then we will ramp up the capacity in phases and we hope to reach the peak capacity in Q4 of this financial year.
“Predominantly, the paper straws are made up of 95-97% paper and a little bit of glue. We will be using food grade paper which is very high grade and very few manufacturers are able to make this kind of paper that goes in the mouth to sip so we expect to be in a better range than what is being currently sold because the economy of scale that we are planning to hit should give us cost advantage and once we have that cost advantage that will be passed on to the customers. We expect ourselves to be in a very competitive space as far as paper straws are concerned and we will surely make it affordable for our customers and promote sustainable solutions like paper straws coming to aseptic liquid packaging.”
UFlex-Asepto initially plans to import food-grade paper from European manufacturers and is looking into indigenous manufacture and supply from Indian paper mills also. It plans to manufacture the moisture-resistant paper straws in two sizes – 145 millimeter and 165 millimeter.
Pierre Moussan, managing director of Tembo Paper who was present at the UFlex Corporate office added, “We are not only excited but we are also very impressed by UFlex and Asepto and of how fast they could take a decision to invest in our technology. We met for the first time in March 2022 in Dubai, and I think we had a very good meeting – a very good match. We understood each other and that’s why we are here now and really happy not only to supply the U-shaped paper straw line but also to ship it. The first line is being shipped next week. I am very excited and looking forward to having our team here on site to make this project a success.”
Sharma also told Packaging South Asia, “I think we are extremely happy to have this collaboration with Tembo in place. It’s a technology collaboration where we’re buying technology of U-shaped paper straws from Tembo Paper and, as we understand, this is the fastest line for U-shaped paper straws in the world with established technology. We are very happy with the initial service that we have got from Pierre Moussan and his team. We hope that this is the first stage and we move by leaps and bounds in adding more capacities in India and outside India.”
The Tembo Paper line will further UFlex’ efforts for sustainable and clean manufacturing practices for aseptic liquid packaging in India.