Grand opening of Constantia Ecoflex plant in Ahmedabad

“Innovation is not a dispensable luxury but simply a necessity”

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Alexander Baumgartner CEO Constantia Flexibles at the Constantia Ecoflex plant in Ahmedabad
Alexander Baumgartner CEO Constantia Flexibles speaking at the unveiling of the Constantia Ecoflex plant in Ahmedabad. Photo PSA

Constantia Flexibles officially unveiled its new Constantia Ecoflex plant in Ahmedabad on 20 November 2019 with great ceremony and joy. Billed as a unique plant dedicated to the production of recyclable flexible packaging, over 300 guests including dignitaries, brand owner customers, and suppliers and well-wishers were given a tour of the plant.

The Austrian ambassador to India Brigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer spoke of the economic cooperation and business opportunities of collaboration between the two countries. RS Sodhi, managing director of Amul industries who modestly said he was speaking on behalf of the 3 million members of the milk cooperative he represents, gave a rousing welcome to the sustainable flexible packaging venture. Citing the growth of the milk industry, he said, “With the growth and opportunity just in the structured dairy business, great expansion in flexible packaging will be needed. Constantia should already be thinking of expansion.”

“With Ecoflex Ahmedabad plant we are making a big step towards more sustainable packaging. This is not only great progress in terms of sustainability for Constantia Flexibles but also the entire packaging industry. Together we can go into a greener future!” said Alexander Baumgartner, CEO of Constantia Flexibles.

Constantia Ecolflex unveiling - top management with Brigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer the Austrian ambassador to India and RS Sodhi managing director of Amul
Alexander Baumgartner, CEO Constantia Flexibles (left); Brigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer, Austrian ambassador to India; RS Sodhi, Managing Director Amul industries; Pranav Parikh, Director, Constantia Parikh; Pavan Parikh, Managing Director and Vice President of Constantia Ecoflex Ahmedabad; Thomas Schulz, VP Marketing & Communications, Constantia Flexibles (right) Photo: Constantia Flexibles

Following the official part of the opening, including speeches and ribbon-cutting ceremony, the guests and media representatives took a guided tour through the new plant. They had the possibility to take a look at the state-of-the-art technology that produces the new EcoLam packaging solution produced by the plant. “Ecolam is the first high barrier flexible packaging that combines the resource-efficiency of plastic with recyclability back into new packaging films,” said Professor Dr. Achim Grefenstein, SVP Group R&D, who developed the innovative EcoLam laminates in close collaboration with the Indian team.

Ecolam is a lightweight Mono-PE laminate suitable for a great variety of packaging applications and is part of the company’s innovative Ecolutions product line. Due to its mono-material structure, EcoLam is fully recyclable, and its carbon footprint is approximately 32% lower than that of comparable products. It comes in various barrier grades to deliver the needs for a wide range of products.

As the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy stipulates that all plastic must be recyclable by 2030, with the products coming from the Ahmedabad plant, Constantia Flexibles will help the industry fulfill the legal requirements and at the same time create products that appeal to the growing number of consumers who care about sustainability.

Ribbon cutting of the new Constantia Ecoflex flexible packaging plant in Ahmedabad
Ribbon cutting at the new Constantia Ecoflex flexible packaging plant in Ahmedabad. L to R – Pranav Parikh, Director, Constantia Parikh, Alexander Baumgartner, CEO Constantia Flexibles, Brigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer, Austrian ambassador to India, and, RS Sodhi, Managing Director Amul industries

The Ecoflex plant opened after more than two years of intensive preparations. Test runs started in September 2019. It has an area of 24,500 sqm and currently employs 50 people. The number is expected to triple by the second quarter of 2020. This plant is one of the results of the Indian government’s original waste control order of 2016 that called for the use of single polymer laminates or fully recyclable flexible packaging. Pavan Parikh, managing director and vice president of Constantia Ecoflex Ahmedabad, which is part of Constantia Flexibles, feels very strongly that industry must clean up its act and that there is no choice but to produce sustainable packaging which is not only recycled but recycled laterally into materials of equivalent use and value. “Innovation is not a dispensable luxury but simply a necessity,” he said, adding “Ecolam is a single polymer PE laminate that can be reused as many as nine times.”

While the Constantia Ecoflex Ahmedabad is located in India, the plant will supply customers worldwide. At the same time, Baumgartner who appreciates the possibility of pioneering sustainable packaging in the country said, “If we are successful with this plant in Ahmedabad, there is no reason that it cannot be replicated in other countries.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.

1 COMMENT

  1. Please also see Susanne Blumel’s comprehensive interview of Alexander Baumgartner published in South Asia and available on this site, in which he speaks extensively about why the India plant could be a breakthrough for sustainable packaging globally. https://packagingsouthasia.com/?s=Alexander+Baumgartner+interview. In fact, when I interviewed him in Ahmedabad just before the unveiling, Baumgartner implied that the European are very slow in bringing in regulation while the Indian government seems closer to meaningful regulation. Apparently, a great impetus for building the plant in Ahmedabad and investing in the R&D came from the Indian government’s Waste Control Order of 2016, which was subsequently diluted.

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