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Can print take advantage of the plastic ban? – The Noel D’Cunha Sunday Column

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Mehul Desai, president, BMPA 

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The ban will have a far-reaching impact. While there is no question that this is a step in the right direction what I find worrisome is that we are not prepared to meet this ban. Businesses are searching for solutions. Small businesses are likely to be more impacted.

Ideally, we should have put solutions in place and then implemented the ban.

Surely it is an opportunity for those who print on paper and board. But there are a lot of printing firms out there who print on materials that are banned now. It will impact them which is a worry.

At BMPA we have been highlighting paper is green for a long time. We have in fact recently written to the concerned ministry drawing attention to the fact that paper is green and that this negative campaign by electronic/digital media is not correct. We also have highlighted this on BMPA social media feeds. We will continue to do this.

Hemant Bhotica

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The plastic ban will hurt the plastic industry but make Mumbai a better place to live in. Every event is an opportunity. It should benefit the paper bag industry. Hope the business doesn’t go out of Maharashtra. However, the printing and packaging associations have to work towards sending the message of ‘paper is green’ for sure. Can’t take it for granted.

B Prasad, Printech

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I am not against plastic usage ban, I welcome it. Reducing usage of plastic is a good step for the better environment. However, please note that many small businesses are dependent on these materials for their livelihood. One will always accept that the highest employment providers in the country are SMEs. I would call them as urban farmers, self-depended. Now abrupt ban like these will surely impact many lives. SME investments and loans taken for machinery can’t be serviced. Stressed out sector due burdened by GST and note ban, now face closures. In my opinion, the government must provide alternate material within six months, if not it’s a futile exercise by the government. How can you change consumer behaviour overnight?

France is the first country that has banned plastic bags. No doubt it was successful and other countries are following them. In India plastic bags have become intrinsic to our daily life. As a result, many SME s mushroomed. The entire retail sales revenues depend on it. My point here is, let the government give time to these SMEs to get ready with alternates, provide them interest-free loans, write-off loans that were taken for plastic making and printing machines. Coming to the direct question on the opportunity for paper and paperboard units in Maharashtra, why only paper, we can even look at denim, jute, canvas, water hyacinth etc…

No doubt, the paper is eco-friendly, lightweight, easily foldable, no harmful chemicals, but paper alone can’t replace plastic usage as it carries its own disadvantages for regular hop-jump and roll usage.

Jehangir Surti, Prodon Enterprise

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The gain will be for the paper industry as a whole. This is a huge opportunity for paperboard units as well as converters. From an association point of view, this is a great opportunity to drive home the message. A campaign should be started to promote the use of paper products wherever possible.

Vijay Adlakha, Infinity Advertising

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Undoubtedly it is going to be huge as usage of plastic bags in routine life is so much that we tend to not notice. But this move will make us realise how we were adversely affecting the environment. However, I and my company truly stand by it.

This move is a complete boon to the paper industry. As paper is one of the ideal substitutes you can think of to the plastic and it can be recycled easily.

This plastic ban will spike use of paper. Therefore, there will be deforestation, and to fill-up, afforestation will need a serious look.

Gururaj Ballaward, director, Wintek Flexo
All I can say is that it’s good news for nature, and the impact on the environment will be reduced to some extent. The ban is certainly a good opportunity for both the printers and paper manufacturers. The ban has given an opportunity to the players in the industry to drive the message – paper is green.
Ravi Joshi, United Multicolour

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The plastic ban will help in resolving environmental hazards. Yes, it’s an opportunity to replace plastic products with paper where ever possible, for example, lamination will be replaced by varnishes coatings.

Printing associations will support as this will help in living conditions and more opportunities in present business

Rupesh Sawant, Superlekha Press

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Yes, the impact of the ban will be very very far-fledged. But, there is a way out. If in some way, along with the ban we can change our mindset and start using plastic very consciously, I think we can make plastic our friend once again.

Earlier the world population must be let’s say 10-crores before invention called plastic, that time man didn’t need plastic. Today with around 800-crore people, we will need plastic. But we need to keep the need or utility of plastic to necessities like milk.

You can’t feed 800-crore people milk with time restrictions in a metal canister. But you can definitely feed 800-crore people with biscuits in a plain four-colour printed paper wrapper instead of UV printed metPET box. That’s my way of looking at the ban.

So in short, keep it simple and use plastic to a bare minimum.

I guess this is what will happen with the plastic ban. All high-end packaging will end.

There’s a big opportunity for innovation. At Drupa, I had seen a paper coated with a coating where you could deep-fry on a gas.


Ashwini Deshpande, Elephant Design 

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We have had a ban on plastic bags below 50 microns since 2006. This was imposed after witnessing the horrifying effects of choked drainages during July 2005 rains in Mumbai. Unfortunately, neither manufacturers nor consumers took it seriously. As a result, a further ban on several other plastic items has been declared. This time around, it seems like a serious call. It may need some re-alignments for print and packaging industry. But if we look at the bigger picture, it will not only be good for the environment but will also accelerate innovations in the fields of materials and recycling.

This is a great opportunity for the entire paper industry to stand up and take the challenge of innovating something that is appropriate and sensible in every way. Just shifting to paper bags will be pointless if the bags are printed using a lot of ink. When a newspaper is recycled, the insoluble ink has to be separated and that amounts to huge non-biodegradable waste. So I would urge caution in branding overkill on paper bags and boxes. Let us practice minimalist attitude when it comes to embellishments.

#paperisgreen only if there is no overdone print or finish or coating on it. I hope the magnitude of urgency is understood and given due respect unanimously. I hope all of us including designers, marketeers and print/ packaging converters exercise our responsibility towards the future.

Praful Akali

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This time, I believe, the ban on plastic will be strongly implemented this time.

Yes, it will be an opportunity for paper and paperboard units, but, I think the main difference will be in terms of paper bags replacing plastic bags. Anyone in this chain should benefit.

#paper is green# message is strong. Don’t think they need to highlight it. Paper as a relatively eco-friendly option to plastic is already well established. The government has done the job for the associations by announcing the ban.

Sandeep Agarwal, general manager-compliance and regulatory affairs, Datt Mediproducts
The ban is good for the environment. Handmade paper bags used in the 80’s are back in focus.

Is this an opportunity for paper and paperboard units in Maharashtra? Not necessarily. They already exist. Production capacity may increase, although other adjoining states would meet the demand. Going forward, recycle paper and FSC certified papers would be the next message.


Vinay Kaushal, Provin Technos

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I am not a fan of word “ban”. Anything you ban in India leads to increase in corruption. Ban is not a solution. Finding a way to recycle/ reuse is the answer.

I am, however, not sure how much will be the impact though initial reaction from printers is negative. On the other hand, innovative printers will gain.

RY Kamat, Hubergroup

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Plastic became part of our day-to-day life and the most essential thing in various aspects. Use of plastic is very safe and saves wastage of food and energy. Banning plastic is not a solution to the problem. We must find a way control the environmental issues through better plastic waste management. I feel it will affect many of us and we will find it difficult to live without plastic.

You cannot replace plastic with paper and paperboard. Use of paper is not environmental friendly. You need to sacrifice a lot of trees. At the same time you can’t replace plastic with paper totally. Maybe some part can be replaced with paper. Therefore, partially this may look like an opportunity for paper and paperboard units in Maharashtra.

From the printing association point of view, the ban on plastic will have adverse effect on printing volume and I am sure our association will send communication to government of Maharashtra to reconsider the decision not to ban the plastic but to find a solution to recycle the plastic by engaging local bodies to manage collection of plastic waste.

BS Kampani, Toyo Ink

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Growth, comfort, ease of shopping or transferring a commodity from one place to another without responsibility to the nation or the universe or its stakeholders, including the government, industry and its people (namely the users) is not possible. Perhaps, let this be a lesson to us Indians, where civic and social responsibility is a facade.

Yes, tremendous opportunity for paper & paperboard units in Maharashtra, both in terms of improving quality, like the burst strength, odour and moisture or water resistant using water-resistant aqueous coatings, making sure that the smell of the adhesive along with its bond strength are internationally accepted. Graphic designs are incorporated for branding, etc. with innovation in robustness for usage and designs.

I hope that old newspapers are not used for food packaging at the kirana shops or other shops as this would reinforce the carcinogenic issues for humans. Moreover, Maharashtra especially, Mumbai, has always been a trendsetter in packaging materials. So let this be seen a challenge to meet the crisis with an innovation.

In my opinion, associations are very responsible, intelligent and challenge-hungry capitalisers of opportunities. I am sure collectively, responsibly and pride to be first to face the challenge for the society and environment at large. This will be an Innovation delight. I only hope the responsibility of depleting forest resources is not forgotten in the name of innovation and challenge.

Sanjiv Kalra, business manager, industrial adhesive at Pidilite

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The plastic ban will bring the change in the ways packaging is being done for many years. With no control over the use of plastic, the effect on environment and health was very visible. This bold decision will bring a control on plastic use particularly on avoidable applications. This will bring a balanced growth for various industries. For example glass, steel, a variety of plastics which can be reused, textile, paper and paperboard will get a boost and a relook on its development.

Maharashtra and particularly Mumbai being densely populated taking such initiative will be one of the first cities to take such steps. With many more states to follow the packaging industry is up for some changes in the ways packaging was being done.

Many Industries may benefit with these changes taking place. Paper and paperboard will surely benefit. Paper bags, paper cups, innovative paper plates, paper and corrugated boxes apart from other packaging will get a boost.

Corrugation industry has seen a strong growth in last few years. With these changes, the growth for these and other paper products is set to grow further. With more and more states to follow Maharashtra initiative the growth will continue for few additional years now.

Atul Gandhi, managing director, Macart Equipment

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Ban alcohol and cigarettes first. They are also harmful to the society. But that will not happen. There’s a large amount of revenues coming from it.

Show me one country which has a plastic ban policy as this one? Even the African countries and China which have the ban on certain plastic products, do not have a complete ban.

Most of the developed countries are the ones who manufacture and use plastics, but they also have a robust recycling mechanism. Australia recycles 60-70% of its plastics followed by Germany and other European countries. Some countries have increased taxes on plastic bags, and those have seen 90% reduction in its usage.

You can impose a ban on plastic bags, but things like plastic spoons, plates, and one time uses products, is just not done. How can you ban plastic all together. It does not make sense. Does this mean, this monsoon there will be no raincoats to shelter you from rains? This is just one example.

From the flex point if view, I can tell that you will not find a single square-meter of flex on the road. It’s perhaps the most reused plastic-based material. Rain coats and bags can be made out of flex. People use it on rooftops during monsoon, some use it as floorings.

I don’t think the Maharashtra government has done any study on the impact of ban. There’s hardly any alternative to the things under the plastic ban, no mechanism for recycling plastic. Just collection centres for plastic products exempt from the ban, will create more nuisance. Take the milk pouch for example. There will be unbearable odour from the rotting milk in the pouches collected.

Further, there’s a huge sum of investments that have gone in manufacturing plastic products. What happens to that? How will the plastic manufacturers be compensated? The owners and those working in the factory will be affected. Where will they go, after having invested so much?

Ban everything that is wrong, but after doing a thorough study of its impact. Let there be uniformity across the nation. It should be a gradual process, well-thoughtout in terms of compensating those who are affected by the bans, and of course, properly implemented.

Prashant Atre, Toyo Ink Arets

prashant-atre

The world cannot be seen plastic-free as long as they see a larger benefit for themselves or a better alternative. Environment sensitivity is bit too far from us even when it is knocking our door much closer than other nations. It can be addressed with some innovative and creative alternatives developed from bio-degradable materials like paper etc.

Maharastra govt wants to implement this in stages, giving exemption to milk pouches, PET bottles, garbage bags and some other plastic products from the ban. The government has decided to exempt plastic being used as integral part for packaging of a product as well as that being used for medicines, solid waste management and agriculture products. It also means garbage bags will not be banned. It has exempted all plastic sheets and covers being used in plant nurseries, milk pouches of more than 50 microns and PET bottles.

The success of ban will depend upon its implementation both by the user and government agencies. It is to be seen how it is implemented by the Maharastra government. But, it is a huge opportunity for paper, paperboard and other alternative material to develop something sustainable to replace plastics from all or most part of its use. Unless, a good alternative is developed and given with mass scale deliveries, it will be difficult for any government to sustain a long-term campaign against plastic.

“Bhau saheb, kapade ki thaili kharid lo, jo hamare parents use karte the” – app Maharashtra me ho.

Sagar Java, CH Java

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The plastic ban in Maharashtra has been long overdue. Disposable items have been polluting our oceans with tonnes of plastic. This current ban, if implemented as envisaged, would go a long way in helping us leave a better planet for our children. Recently, I was so excited to learn that sea-turtles have hatched at the Versova beach in Mumbai thanks to a 96-week voluntary cleaning drive that discarded tonnes of plastic. This is a step which is, of course, completely environmentally friendly and will bring to an end the unnecessary use of plastics in our ecosystem.

The current decision to ban plastics is an opportunity to both cloth bags as well as paper bags. This should also enable paper cup usage over plastic cups being used in millions for serving tea and coffee on the streets of Mumbai. The need of our times is to use materials that are bio degradable and will disintegrate into the soil rather than materials that will contaminate the system for decades to come.


Kamal Chopra, general secretary, Offset Printers Association, Ludhiana

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As per the news Maharashtra government set to ban plastic containers, banners, boards, not just bags, therefore there will be great impact on signage / wide format printing. With this ban on one end the paper bag industry is going to get the benefit but at the other end it is not good news for wide-format/flex printers.

Plastic bags have a bad reputation and with good reason. It takes centuries for one to dissolve after ending up in a landfill, while paper decomposes much more faster and easily. In fact, according to a survey, plastic bags do not biodegrade at all, so you would have to wait for UV rays to destroy it, which can take anywhere from 500 to 1,000 years or more. Paper is completely biodegradable and environmentally friendly.

It’s a great opening for paper and paperboard units in Maharashtra because with this ban paper bags is only replacement.

Anil Brahmbhatt, president, Screen Printing and Graphics Association of India (SGAI)

anil

From the printing industry point of view, it is like the saying: ‘One man’s loss is another man’s gain’. If plastic is banned surely the paper industry will have a field day, unless a substitute for ‘plastic’ is discovered. Within the plastic industry itself, plastic bags (shopping bags) have been banned (although thinly still it is being manufactured and used in shops in many remote places). And over the years, due to plastic bag ban, non-woven bag manufacturing and printing business has flourished across India. And in the Kolkata region, jute bag manufacturers are exporting bulk of their production than selling in India. In fact, many years ago, jute industry, which had once dominated packaging, had to suffer severely due to the usage of PP (polypropylene) bags. But after the plastic bag ban across the world, the jute industry (and paper) has made a comeback with a big bang as scores of manufacturers are making bags with exotic print designs and exporting to US and European countries.

But why the environment-friendly bags are not used within India as much as possible, because plastic and now non-woven is dominating the minds of people. So, in a nutshell, a ban on plastic in Maharashtra or whole of India, will propel demand for paper packaging, whether it is viable or not, whether it would mean cutting more trees or not… somebody’s loss is somebody’s gain! It’s something that happened to natural fibre (cotton and silk) versus man-made-fibre when it comes to clothing.

Yes, it will benefit paper and paperboard units in Maharashtra and paper and paperboard manufacturers across India or even it may propel the growth of import of these products. As I said, plastic or paper, when it comes to the printing industry as a whole, it does not matter as printing industry will have jobs as long as alternative products (to plastic) are to be manufactured and printed. And why not printing ink manufacturers have to shift gear from plastic printing inks to paper printing inks, and why not, all the machinery and equipment manufacturers supplying to paper and paperboard product/packaging industry have to add capacity to make more of them to meet the sudden rise in demand in lieu of plastic products.

If manufacturing and using plastic is a ‘sin’ environmentally, the paper may equally cause damage to environment somewhere down the line, as the total elimination of plastic would lead to a steep rise in demand for ‘paper’ products. In such a scenario, there will always two lobbies, one saying, it’s ‘bad’ and another says it’s ‘good’. It’s a tricky scenario. I feel both materials have their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to the environment. Good or bad, if a total plastic ban comes into force, yes everybody will have to undergo the challenges (plastic industry) and opportunities (paper industry).

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