Paper industry needs to reformulate itself: Sitharaman

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Chennai: Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today asked paper manufacturers to “reformulate” business model and make use use of degraded land to plant trees that can be availed as raw material by the industry.

“It is a very critical industry. You have contribution to make (to the country). You (paper manufacturers) are at a critical juncture and have to reformulate yourself,” the commerce and industry minister said.

She was speaking at the inauguration of the 56th AGM of Federation of Paper Traders’ Association here.

“Look at the market which wants paper in certain segments. You are looking at a market which has been using (paper) for a long time. If there is a mismatch, you should be able to bridge that,” she said.

Advising the industry to work with the central and state governments for the use of degraded land to plant trees which can become raw material, the minister said, “The (paper) industry can plan and tell the government that this is where they want to make the (land) for productive use.”

“Give the farmer who holds degraded land some return and ensure you (paper manufacturers) have constant supply of raw material,” she said.

Stating that there was no dearth of degraded land in the country, she said there has to be a “concerted attempt” by the paper industry to look at degraded lands so that there was continuous source of raw material for the industry.

“For that, I think, the industry should move both the state and central governments to talk on how to capitalise on it,” she said.

Referring to the plastic industry, she said it was important for the paper industry on how they can replace plastics in packaging rather than worrying about the space taken away by the electronic mode of communication.

“You should really look at plastics and those with smaller microns that can be substituted with paper. I am constantly in touch with the Indian Institute of Packaging and they are running short of ideas on how to deal with (packaging) industry’s requirement,” she said.

She urged paper manufacturers to work together with the Indian Institute of Packaging on how to get better quality of packaging material.

Sitharaman also said that lot of paper goes waste without being recycled and termed it as a “phenomenal waste”.

“We cannot afford that”, she said.

Responding to a comment made by the Indian Paper Manufacturers’ Association president Sourabh Bangur that lot of paper gets imported from ASEAN countries without import duties, she said, “If your concern about the bulk of paper coming into India without much duties, I would like to hear from you and certainly address that issue.

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