The paperboards & specialty papers business of diversified conglomerate ITC Ltd is ramping up the sustainable products portfolio and stepping up investments in the fast-evolving space which holds “immense growth potential”.

ITC set up a wholly owned subsidiary, ITC Fibre Innovations Ltd, to foray into the fast-growing premium Moulded Fibre Products (MFP) space. In the first phase, it is setting up a manufacturing facility at Badiyakhedi in Madhya Pradesh to pursue identified opportunities in this rapidly evolving space, the company said in its latest annual report (2023).

“Customers are increasingly seeking solutions that are bio-degradable, substitute single-use plastic, and meet stakeholder and regulatory expectations across industries including food serving and delivery, pharmaceutical, beauty, and electronics. The raw materials for such products are sourced from environment-friendly, renewable, natural fibres such as wood, bamboo, etc. The MFP business will leverage ITC’s expertise in fibre value chain, manufacturing excellence, and strong sustainability credentials to rapidly scale up business going forward,” the report said.

Growing demand

Recognising the need for sustainable packaging and the emerging demand for plastic substitutes, the business has been leveraging its flagship ‘InnovPack’ campaign and is focusing on end-use segments with the potential for rapid adoption of sustainable packaging and plastic substitution solutions.

The paperboards & specialty papers business, which has been ramping up its sustainable products portfolio, achieved approximately two-fold increase in revenue over the previous year.

The company’s ‘Filo’ series of sustainable solutions including ‘FiloBev’ (for cups), ‘FiloServe’ (for QSR, bakeries, and food retail), and ‘FiloPack’ (packaging for sweets and deep freeze applications) has been witnessing strong traction in both domestic and international markets, it said. This apart, the ‘Omega’ series - ‘OmegaBev’ and ‘OmegaBev Vio’, certified compostable by the Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering & Technology (CIPET) and also registered with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), continued to increase its franchise with large eco-conscious brands.

“The business is stepping up investments in this fast-evolving space which holds immense growth potential, supported by the R&D capabilities of ITC’s Life Sciences & Technology Centre and through external collaborations with global specialists,” it said.

The specialty papers segment’s market standing during 2022-23 was driven by product mix enrichment and diversification of the customer base. The domestic industry continues to remain under pressure on account of cheap imports from China. The anti-dumping duty on décor paper continues to provide a level playing field for domestic industry and further enhances ‘Make in India’ opportunities, fosters domestic value chains, and enables import substitution.

“A strong distribution network, efficient supply chain, and customised product portfolio leveraging cutting-edge innovation capabilities based on superior customer insights provide structural competitive advantages to the business to further consolidate its market standing in the fast growing décor segment,” it said.

ITC’s FMCG brands have also been increasingly adopting sustainable packaging solutions with brands such as Fiama, Vivel and Savlon have been frontrunners in adopting sustainable packaging for the soap portfolio.