Water footprint of Indian Paper Industry significantly down: IPMA

Water footprint of Indian Paper Industry significantly down: IPMA
Mr Pawan Agarwal, President IPMA speaking at CII Conference on Pulp and Paper

Specific water consumption by the Paper Industry, especially the organised Paper mills in the country has come down significantly over the years. Earlier the industry used to consume 200 cubic metres of water to produce a tonne of paper. Now, the integrated mills have reduced that to around 40 cubic metres. There is a concerted effort to bring it down further. Today, several paper mills in the country have got the best available global technology in the field of wastewater treatment, said Mr Pawan Agarwal, President Indian Paper Manufacturers Association (IPMA). He was speaking at 8thCII National Conference on Pulp & Paper today organised by CII-Triveni Water Institute with the support of IPMA.

Over the last decade and a half, the Indian Paper Industry has undergone momentous changes. Be it creation of a robust and renewable raw material sourcing base, offering innovative, eco-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic or incorporation of process technologies with least environmental footprint, Paper Industry has come a long way, added Mr Agarwal.

For procurement of wood, the key raw material, the industry has worked incessantly with over 5 lakh marginal farmers over the last several years and has successfully brought 12 lakh hectares of largely degraded land under plantations. As a mark of sustainability, the Paper Industry is wood-positive today. More trees are being grown than harvested for pulp making.

Besides water efficiencies, the industry has worked hard on reducing specific energy consumption. Under the PAT (Perform Achieve Trade) scheme of the Government, under the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE), the Paper Industry has been one of the top performing sectors, and has over-achieved the mandated stiff targets. Integrated paper mills in India are generating over 40% of the power they use by utilising the biomass from the pulping process.

The Paper Industry has handsomely invested in sustainable practices and production processes. Technological advancements in the fields of environment, including water and energy efficiencies, and captive power generation have been undertaken by several industry players to reduce their carbon and water footprint.

Mr Agarwal urged policy intervention by the Government to support the Paper Industry which is vital for several government missions. The Clean India mission is not possible without the Paper Industry. Government has been working with sincerity to ban huge litter and environmental issues caused by single use plastic usage, and there is no other viable alternative than paper for replacing single use plastic.

Paper is environment-friendly, it is fully biodegradable and versatile with multiple usages. Today the paper packaging sector is growing and it is meeting the demand for environment-friendly packaging solutions. Similarly, under the India literacy mission it is not possible to achieve 100% literacy without paper in the country.