We started our bimonthly magazine Packaging South Asia in the beginning of 2007. And although we generally get praise for the original content and presentation, the path has not been as upwardly smooth as we assumed or hoped it would be. Now with Interpack and drupa looming, it seems that we are moving on subscriptions and advertising. This could mean either that the industry is still largely marketing event driven, or that we are finally gaining traction.
South Asia itself – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka is a large and challenging geography and concept. Although delineated by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the political cultures of the subcontinent are themselves a huge challenge let alone the diverse languages and economies. Our challenge is to make this regional cooperation meaningful in one industry sector – packaging. Fortunately, both the politics and the economy of the member countries of SAARC seem to be evolving in a positive direction which means that it will be easier to travel between them and to keep the focus on a booming industry segment.
We hope to visit all the SAARC countries this year. However since January we have mainly been preoccupied by the twin events in Dusseldorf – Interpack and drupa. We will be there at both events at the International Trade Press stands and at drupa08 we will also be there in Hall 9, Stand A39. The original content of Packaging South Asia seeks to demonstrate the strength of the Asian packaging industry at all levels – information, knowledge, practice, and presentation. However the industry itself is not only committed to exhibitions but also extremely Euro-centric and North America-centric. Reflecting the strong growth of the packaging in the region, this will change as Asians improve their exhibitions (such as the India Packaging Show in August and the India Label Show in December in Delhi), and become more articulate. This is what gives strength to the trade magazines in Asia, both in print and on the web.
Both Interpack and drupa will see an unprecedented number of Asian exhibitors, visitors, and trade journalists. We will be there to sell, to buy, and to satisfy a great hunger for equipment, materials, and technologies. And to satisfy our great curiosity and desire for current information and domain knowledge too.
Talking the green
The excellent effort by TERI and the Delhi Administration in organizing the recent “Pathways to Green Publishing” seminar within government premises is another opportunity for suppliers, printers and converters, and for our customers, to take meaningful initiatives. Almost gone are the days of band-aid laws, corrupt politicians and incompetent bureaucrats. Delhi, which claims it has increased its forest cover to almost 21% in 2007, wants to lead the way.
JK Dadoo of the Delhi Administration said that 5000 industrial units in Delhi release untreated effluents; that in the 34 industrial estates of the city, there are only 11 common effluent treatment plants and the large water guzzlers do not recycle. He added that although 1200 effluent treatment plants have been created by individual industries they cost anywhere from INR 25,000 to 250,000 (Euro 400 to 4,000) a month to maintain. Unfortunately most printers and converters are not serious about building and maintaining these plants and dealing with hazardous wastes.
The seminar contained good bits on sustainability and carbon footprint and scale from paper and board manufacturers such as ITC P&SPD and JK Paper, and the professional publishers who were present. The local printers however have not yet really understood the need for environment protocols and audits. The lone articulate voice was that of a professional newspaper printer.
Green talk is cheap although most printers cannot even spend a full day away from work for this. The Indian printing and packaging industries have to begin their green investments by spending on environment protocols and audits. Then they can look forward to spending some more on effluent, recycling, and green technology.
Asia to see major packaging activity
Asia continues to hog the major share of investments in new capacities for both basic packaging materials and converting ranging all the way from petrochemicals to oriented films to finished multilayer laminates. One forecast made by PCI Films Consulting even predicts that as much as 50 per cent of new converting capacity that will come up worldwide during the second half of this decade will be set up in India and China. While this is partially due to the fact that these economies are rapidly developing into major consumer markets for packaged products on the back of booming GDP growth, there is no denying that the flexible packaging industry in this region is really going places.
Jindal Poly Films, for example, have investments in additional capacities in the pipeline that will probably make them the world’s largest BOPP film producer by the end of next year and, by some margin, the world’s largest manufacturer of oriented films by 2010 with an annual capacity of some 410,000 MT, all at one location. Other majors like Uflex are also going “international” and implementing large investments in Dubai and Mexico. China, of course, is seeing a slew of investments by many world leaders in manufacturing plants of all kinds. All this proliferation in manufacturing activity is surely bound to lead to the region also emerging as a strong force in technological development. I predict exciting times ahead in South and Southeast Asia. – S Chidambar