Paper Industry in India is exhibiting one of the fastest growths being witnessed anywhere in the world and is most likely to continue this growth trajectory in the years to come as Indian economy is better placed to weather the storm caused by global upheavals, said A S Mehta, President, Indian Paper Manufacturers Association (IPMA).

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After Covid disruptions, when paper consumption nosedived, the demand has made a robust recovery in FY23 and has overtaken pre-pandemic levels. In view of the large potential for growth aided by a growing economy, the paper industry is expected to continue to grow in sync with the economic growth recording 6-8 per cent growth per annum, he said at the 16th PaperTech 2022.

Being held on the theme, ‘Making Paper Industry World-Class’, PaperTech has been working towards continuous improvement in energy and environment performance of the industry through sharing of best practices/technologies amongst industries.

How to make the industry world-class?

According to Mehta, to make the industry world-class, raw material security is a must. Currently, the cost of procuring wood in India is upwards of $100 per tonne, while the same in other competing countries that have advanced paper manufacturing is $60 per tonne. Being competitive is a prerequisite to becoming world-class and for that raw material security needs to be strengthened.

Industry-driven agroforestry being undertaken in collaboration with over 5 lakh farmers needs to be augmented to a large extent to meet the current and future needs of the industry for pulpwood. So far, with the efforts of wood-based paper mills, 12 lakh hectares has been brought under agro/farm forestry across the country, with significant environmental benefits.

Substantial amounts have been spent by the paper industry on plantation R&D leading to development of high-quality tree clonal saplings that are disease and drought resistant and can be grown in a variety of agro climatic conditions.

This has generated significant employment opportunities for the local community, apart from enhancing their incomes. India’s paper industry is wood-positive as paper mills plant more trees than they harvest.

Another area that Mehta emphasised upon for turning paper industry world-class was by altering perceptions about the industry and thus, attracting better talent as a responsible manufacturing industry that actively works towards conserving the environment. Misplaced perceptions about paper need to be changed in a mission mode as paper is an environment friendly product as it is fully biodegradable, recyclable, and made from sustainable and renewable resources.

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