High energy cost is a major challenge for Indian products

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Categories of moulded pulp packaging products
According to IMPEPA (International Molded Pulp Environmental Packaging Association) the industry body that plays a critical role in deciding the roadmap of growth for the sector, moulded pulp products are of four categories:

  • Thick-walled products
  • Transferred moulded products
  • Thermoformed products
  • Processed products

The range of products for final use is vast and growing with new application designs. Egg trays and trays for fruits have become quite common and they occupy a major share of the packaging needs of the hatchery and horticulture sectors. Beverage trays for disposable paper cups, plant pots, hospital-use bed pans and waste trays are just a few others.

In addition to that, there are industrial products packaging options for numerous product categories like glass items, electronic and electrical products home appliances, and many other engineering and B2B industrial products. Pulp moulded packaging products are now proliferating the market to replace the packaging functions earlier carried out by wood, thermocol and cardboard that constituted the bulk of the packaging material earlier.

High energy cost of pulp packaging is a big challenge
Like many other eco-friendly products that are trying to penetrate their respective markets, the pulp moulded packaging also face challenges to their growth prospects. A study of the pulp mould-making processes across the UK, Western Europe, USA and China revealed the high energy cost of making moulded pulp packaging in these markets which is between 30 and 40% of the total cost. While the energy cost is almost the same in the UK, US and Western Europe, in China it is much higher.

Yet the Chinese make the most profits with four to five times lower labour cost and nearly half the transport cost of UK, Western Europe and USA. It is expected that the Indian moulded pulp packaging producers will be able to match the Chinese cost parameters and with better energy and transport management, can even do better. The main challenge for all moulded pulp packaging producers all over the world is to drastically bring down energy costs and one of the best ways of doing that is by adopting renewable energy options like solar, wind and biomass power among others.

The moulded pulp packaging sector is not as well-organized in India as it is in China and in the other developed markets like the UK, United States and Western Europe but there are opportunities for this sector to grow substantially. With over 300 days of sunshine across most of India, the scope for using solar power to produce moulded pulp packaging here is good enough to meet the high energy cost. It remains to be seen how and when the Indian moulded pulp packaging industry is able do it. 

With inputs from Project on Green Industries II (http://www.moea.gov.bt/documents/files/pub0jg8032io.pdf)

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