The discussion commenced with the customary lighting of the traditional lamp followed by the inaugural address by Naresh Khanna of IPPStar, who briefly spoke about the need for sustainable packaging that reduces pressure on the environment and helps in zero littering and landfill. He also spoke about the need to develop the food supply chain as the single most important element in sustainability and which can best capture the country’s abundant solar energy. Thereafter, Johan Nelbeck and Patrick Bossander of BillerudKorsnas made technical presentations that revealed interesting details about the amazing strength of the paper their company produces using sustainable and managed forestry and bio-based energy that meets about 97% of the company’s current needs and which is planned to be increased to 100% in the coming years.
This was followed by a presentation by Sohail Mandhar of BNHS that probed the impact of development on the environment especially flora and fauna and explained the role played by BNHS in research and preservation. It was a gentle reminder from one of India’s oldest and most renowned institutions in environmental studies and research that there is a lot that needs to be done to protect the environment especially forest ecology. The packaging industry needs to take note of the fact that non-biodegradable plastic waste is endangering many species that may join the list of extinct creatures in the BNHS museum.
The next speaker, Deepak Manchanda, who is a packaging industry veteran and rationalist, spoke on the sorry state of India’s urban environment and the alarming levels of danger posed by the huge piles of garbage across streets in almost every city, town and village in the country. In this context Manchanda referred to his Open Letter to prime minister Narendra Modi (published in Packaging South Asia) urging the government to consider action on packaging litter and sustainability as a key component of the government’s Swachh Bharat campaign. The rising levels of littering in the streets and water logging of urban centres during the monsoon even two years after the launch of the Swachh Bharat campaign, calls for serious stock-taking by the government of India and its no-holds-barred propaganda about the ‘successes’ achieved in this mission.
The level of curiosity among those present was evident from the number of questions raised about how Billerudkorsnas intends to expand operations in India. The senior executives from the Swedish company had their answers ready – they explained that Billerudkorsnas has no such plans and their paper will come from Sweden. Moreover, the trees needed for producing extra strong paper are generally found in the far northern hemisphere near the Arctic circles in the Scandinavian countries and in Russia or Siberia. It was also pointed out that it is only with managed forests that a carbon sink can be created. It is the cutting of trees and the renewal and regeneration of the forest by faster growing young trees, that the maximum amount of carbon capture can be accomplished. A policy of not cutting trees cannot create a sustainably managed forest.
Paper supplied by Billerudkorsnas is used for a wide variety of packages
Overall, the roundtable discussion showed that there is genuine interest in sustainable packaging among Indian manufacturers, packaging converters and government institutions especially for novel solutions where safety and health in manufacturing such as construction and building are key. Novel solutions for the food and medical industry also demonstrated that the larger use of paper in packaging is a viable alternative to the use of plastic packaging or can help in reducing plastic except where special barrier properties are required. The event was important in that it brought together stakeholders and institutions with leading brand owners, converters and material suppliers in the packaging industry. It is planned to continue to widen this discussion in the Delhi NCR in coming months. The IPPStar PackTech Packaging Design, Innovation and Technology Conference will also discuss the sustainability issues in Mumbai on 16 and 17 December 2016.