Several crises at hand and yet we are blissfully doing business as usual

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IPEX

There are several crises in the printing and packaging industry and at times we (or our governments and its institutions) apply band-aids or other medicines for temporary relief rather than addressing the causes and looking for real cures. In some cases, the cures take longer than the life-span of a government and what’s needed is longer term and politically neutral planning.
The crisis stemming from the Plastic Waste Management order of 2016 seems to have passed because the new order issued on 27 March 2018 says that almost all types of plastic packaging can continue. Thus, it’s back to business as usual and the real environment issues in relation to plastics are again in danger of being ignored until the next draconian order.

As S Chidambar points out in our pages, if one reads the PWM orders carefully, there are still many obligations that brand owners, packaging producers and cities and towns
have to address that require serious and concerted action and will have to paid for – right from households, to industry and government. Waste collectors need to be trained, given
the right tools and paid, and capital expenditure is needed for composting and recycling facilities. Turning plastic into energy and landfills cannot be a realistic answer.

The other major crisis is that of poor economic and industrial growth which, not with standing upward government statistical announcements, is not borne out by the facts on
the ground – at least as far the uptake in consumer good packaging and more importantly in the profit margins in packaging. At the same time our customers – the globalconsumer product manufacturers – are making big announcements even on social media about being water and carbon positive by 2020 but in a general and global way, that seems to average their global activity.

However, these same brand owners seem reluctant about the specifics of their products and packaging in India where they continue to encourage participation in reverse auctions
to keep on squeezing margins while at the same time demanding the use of sustainable inputs such as FSC-certified packaging boards. They do not seem to understand that to establish a chain of custody for sustainable inputs and to monitor and certify these also takes effort and costs money.

There are many other crises, but here I will touch only one more – the anti-dumping duties sought to be applied to both the import of coated paper and board and to offset printing
plates. Apart from the structural issues, one of the biggest problems is of the quality of domestic products, where some of our bigger manufacturers seem to be unable to provide
quality products in comparison to the imported papers, offset plates and even aluminum foils that are now required to produce competitive and high-quality printing and packaging for both domestic consumption and exports.

Our printing and packaging industries may be fragmented but collectively they are not small, merely focussed on themselves and the short term. We need greater maturity in
working with our industry colleagues and our government. We cannot continue to do business as usual.

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!

For editorial info@ippgroup.in — for advertisement ads1@ippgroup.in and for subscriptions subscription@ippgroup.in

– Naresh Khanna (25 October 2023)

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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. Elected vice-president of the International Packaging Press Organization in May 2023.

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