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ITC Paper bets big on eco-friendly cups

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Mr Pradeep Dhobale
Mr Pradeep Dhobale

M. Somasekhar

Hyderabad, Feb. 7 The average per head usage of disposable cups in India is estimated at 40 per year. This includes plastic, paper and ceramic.

The total consumption of disposable cups is 40 billion as per estimates. The turnover is of the order of Rs 1,100 crore.

Of this, paper cups alone make up about 10 per cent or over Rs 100 crore. The sector has been growing at a rate of 30 per cent in the last few years, according to Mr Pradeep Dhobale, Chief of ITC Paperboards & Speciality Papers Division, Bhadrachalam.

The company, which is a leading producer of speciality paper, has set up a plant at Bollaram, on the outskirts of Hyderabad, with an investment of Rs 35 crore. The foodgrade paper board is manufactured here and supplied to entrepreneurs, who make these cups, he told Business Line.

At present, paper cups, which are recyclable and eco-friendly, are made by the cottage industry sector, with a large number of them concentrated in Tamil Nadu. The users are also predominantly the BPOs (business process outsourcing companies) and nuclear families in urban areas, he added.

Though the turnover from this segment is only Rs 90 crore of the total Rs 2,200 crore turnover of the ITC company, it is promising. And, since it is eco-friendly, it helps get carbon credits and allows trading in future, Mr Dhobale said.

The company now uses Ozone Eco-friendly Paper (ECF). Traditionally, chlorine is used for bleaching of wood pulp as it is the cheapest bleaching chemical. However, this process generates effluent containing chemicals called dioxins which are known to be carcinogenic.

In advanced nations, the use of chlorine is prohibited. ITC has pioneered ECF bleaching and further improved on it in 2008 by introducing ozone-treated ECF bleaching for its entire pulping operations, explained Mr Dhobale.

Interestingly, the raw material for the paper — trees — is a regenerative resource. The ITC has plantations extending to 85,000 hectares, a majority of it in Andhra Pradesh. About 8,000 hectares of plantation is enough to meet the demands at present, he said

The new technique considerably lowers water consumption, is environment friendly and efficient, claimed Mr Dhobale. It has led to dramatically cleaner effluent discharge and superior strength properties.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 8, 2009)
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