Bringing sustainability back to the front burner

The year of living carefully


In the past year of living carefully in the shadow of Covid-19, the packaging industry has been one of the fortunate exceptions in the economy with continued growth and capacity building. The suppliers of film, board, liner, or labelstock or those of gravure, label and offset presses and converting equipment for flexibles, corrugated, and carton packaging have done well. The packaging printing and converting suppliers have delivered on notable projects that were in the pipeline. The filling and sealing segments have also added considerable capacity.

The aggressive capacity building in the Indian packaging industry continues with belief renewed by the pandemic in both the necessity of Indian packaging and its still considerable headroom for growth. With plans made and, in many cases, equipment with long lead times on order, a great deal of capacity building is in progress for the coming two years. However, the question being asked – even by sellers of equipment, technology, and raw materials, is whether we have sidelined packaging sustainability. This subject was on the front burner at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020.

In the last year, many expert commentators have pointed out that there is the danger of arriving at the new normal by taking the ‘Covid bypass.’ Will the economic recovery and the packaging industry’s prosperity overlook the tough questions of waste collection, sorting at source, and recycling packaging in India? Will sustainability remain merely lip service and greenwashing while each material and segment champions its virtuous green credentials to the detriment of others?

The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that it is one of a series of recurring events in which we have perhaps irreparably damaged our natural world. Consumers are aware of the crisis widely and are demanding hygiene and safety in products and sustainability, wiser use of finite resources, and recyclable and recycled packaging.

In recent surveys, a majority of consumers not only believe that improving food safety is the responsibility of manufacturers, they see it as the number one issue that companies need to tackle now and in the future. They are no longer satisfied with the possibility, and they are demanding hygienic and sustainable packaging with recycled content now.


Packaging South Asia — resilient, growing and impactful — daily, monthly — always responsive

The multi-channel B2B in print and digital 17-year-old platform matches the industry’s growth trajectory. The Indian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Middle East packaging industries are looking beyond the resilience of the past three years. They are resuming capacity expansion and diversification, with high technology and automation in new plants and projects.

As we present our 2024 publishing plan, India’s real GDP growth for the financial year ending 31 March 2024 will exceed 6%. The packaging industry growth will match the GDP growth in volume terms and surpass it by at least 3% in terms of nominal growth allowing for price inflation in energy, raw materials, consumables, and capital equipment.

The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 45% over the past four years. With orders in place, we expect another 20% capacity addition in 2024 and 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels are grown similarly. As the consumption story returns over the next six months, we expect demand to return and exceed the growth trajectory of previous years. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – and as shown by our analytics, our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

For responsible and sustainable packaging, with its attendant regulations and compliances, there is significant headroom to grow in India and the region. Our coverage includes the entire packaging supply chain – from concept to shelf and to waste collection, sorting, and recycling.

We target brand owners, product managers, raw material suppliers, packaging designers and converters, and recyclers. This is a large and complex canvas – the only thing that can work is your agile thinking and innovation together with our continuous learning and persistence.

The coming year looks to be an up year in this region, and this is the right time to plan your participation and marketing communication – in our rich and highly targeted business platform with human resources on the ground. Share your thoughts and plans to inspire and mobilize our editorial and advertising teams!

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– Naresh Khanna (25 October 2023)

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