Paper businesses must innovate to fill the gaps created by the plastic ban

Asia Pulp & Paper interview

APP’s recyclable paper cup

The recent ban imposed by states like Maharashtra on single use plastic packaging will likely stimulate near-term demand for paper-based packaging, but it will not be as simple as replacing plastic packaging with paper packaging, Pramod Kumar, India sales manager, industrial BU, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) told Packaging South Asia.

“Paper businesses must continue to deliver innovative products to fill the gaps created by the plastic ban. Packaging producers will also need to find ways to reduce waste in the manufacturing process, encourage recycling and the development of recycling infrastructure. On their part, commodity users will need to re-examine their packaging needs. They also need more efficient and interesting ways to use packaging,” Kumar said.

Indonesia-based APP is among the world’s largest pulp and paper companies. The company has been operating in India since 1998, delivering paper-based products for the printing and packaging industry. The company now has a robust supply chain and strong distribution channels spread across India. They cater to the need of almost all segments – from commodity printing to specialized grade paper. APP’s products range from writing and printing segments, packaging of pharmaceuticals, FMCG products, publications, garment tags, food-grade packaging and others. More recently, it has also ventured into direct consumer products like converted tissue, copier paper, and office and school stationery. APP works with both distributors and converters to deliver finished products for the Indian market. Merchants, traders and distributors are APP’s primary customers in India.

Addressing sustainability issues in packaging

Sustainability has been a buzz word in the Indian packaging industry for some time now. APP too has been addressing this issue from both ends of the packaging supply chain, said Kumar. “Through our Forest Conservation Policy, we ensure that our products are forest-free and are made using only plantation fiber,” Kumar said.

The company has also invested in research and development at the product level to make its products more recyclable and compostable. “Our Foopak Bio Natura compostable paperboard recently won the Sustainable Product of the Year at the Business Intelligence Group’s Sustainability Awards. It is one example of how we’ve been able to eliminate the use of plastic in our food-grade paper packaging. We are exploring more means of making our packaging products more efficient with less waste,” added Kumar.

APP’s Foopak Bio Natura is replacing plastic, foam and PE-coated food packaging with a fully compostable, sustainable paperboard alternative. It is especially designed for converting both hot and cold beverage cups and other food packaging. The cup stock can sustain heat up to 440 degrees Fahrenheit/220 degrees Celsius. Foopak Bio Natura cup stock is FDA-certified and meets the standards with FTC’s Green Guides for biodegradability and compostability. Testing by the Isega Institute shows scientific evidence that the stock can completely break down and return to nature by decomposing in a matter of 12 weeks. Additionally, Bio Natura can be safely composted in a facility or home compost pile.

Indian packaging industry turning more service-oriented

Commoditization of Indian packaging industry has a well-established fact for almost a decade now. However, in the last few years the industry has started rapidly shifting from a commodity business towards being more service oriented. This means suppliers must be able to meet supply lead time and product customization in order to satisfy customers.

According to Kumar, APP has responded to these changes by gearing itself to meet these requirements, including initiating a third-party sheeting unit that allows us to shorten supply lead time and delivering desired custom sizes. “We ensure availability by stocking jumbo paper rolls well in advance to serve our different segments. Furthermore, we’ve invested in advanced research and development to broaden our product offerings, such as Foopak Bio Natura compostable paperboard; it has unique characteristics that add value, not only to the current packaging segments, but also to society,” he said.

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