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Waste Paper Management and Recycling

‘Paper’ – An Essential Commodity

Paper is an essential commodity with which all of us are very closely associated in our daily life. Its socio-economic importance in the overall development of the country has its own value, which is directly linked with the industrial and educational growth in the country.

Demand of ‘Paper’ Increasing

With all around industrial development and upward trend in the literacy rate, demand of paper in the country is increasing by leaps and bounds day by day. India at present consumes more than 80 lakh Tons of paper and paper board annually. India’s paper manufacturing capacity is expected to grow at a compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.4% from 8.4 million metric tons to 11.2 million metric tons per annum between 2008 and 2010. Almost every paper mill, whether small, medium or large in size is increasing their production capacity and renovating their plants in order to produce good quality of papers and paperboards. It has been visualized that the demand of paper in the country shall be around 10 million Metric Tons by the year 2010 and by 2025, it would be close to 2.5 crore metric Tons, which is not an easy task to meet for the Indian paper industry because of regular decrease of it conventional fibrous raw-materials.

Industry looking for conventional raw material

World’s primary raw-materials for paper manufacture are 75% forest woods, 20% waste-paper and 5% other fibrous waste materials, including agricultural residues. People do not know and they cannot ever think even that to produce one Ton of paper, 3 Tons of wood is needed, for which 15 to 17 green trees need to cut. If 8 KG current per capita consumption of paper in the country, expected to be double by the year 2015, is a correct figure and the industry is totally based on wood, about 24 Kg wood at present is being utilized yearly by every Indian in the form of paper. This is enough to bring down the Indian forest cover, which is now left hardly 11.5%, to a single digit figure in the years to come as against the International norms of minimum 33.3% of the total land of a country under forestry.

Paper industry is in the core sector of the national economy and is crucial for the progress, prosperity and advancement of the country in social, cultural, scientific and industrial fields. Unfortunately, today the Indian Paper industry is standing at cross-roads looking for its conventional raw-materials. When the yield of wood per acre of land in India is comparatively low, the forest area is also shrinking due to the encroachment of forest land for agriculture and urbanization, for transport routes, industrial sites and other needs of the increasing population. Thus, the availability of conventional raw-materials, “Wood and Bamboo”, for paper manufacture is reducing rapidly.

When the survival of forest based paper mills is at stake, the projected demand of paper cannot be met even from the paper mills based on agro-residues, as these are to be mixed in required proportion with other fibre furnishers, like imported wood pulp or waste-paper to withstand the competition in the quality of the paper. Unfortunately, even the availability of the agricultural residues on the large scale is doubtful.

People of the country should, therefore, realize the importance of paper, which is directly linked with the precious natural resource, , thereby ecological system of the country. A tree, which takes around 15- 20 years to bloom, is cut in a day or two, converted into paper, used for writing, printing and packaging purpose, finally thrown into waste-paper basket/bin. If trees are cut to make furniture, doors and windows, their cutting have some logic but to produce paper, depleting forests by cutting trees, cannot be justified, specially when our forests are shrinking.

Protecting Forests Does not Mean No ‘PAPER’

Though, nature provides enough for everybody’s need, but does not for everybody’s greed. When you enjoy nature’s glories, you will have to accept its cruelty also in case of environment degradation. No development activity to enhance production of paper that severely depletes natural resources or degraded the environment can ultimately benefit the people. Protecting the environment does not meant to stop development activity in the paper production nor does it mean putting a halt to expansion programmes of our Paper Mills. Their long term impact on the environment and ecology of the region has to be kept in mind. Environment conservation itself is a part of development and not a constraint to it as it is generally perceived.

In the context of ill effects of deforestation and environmental pollution, it has become imperative on the part of the humanity to find out means and ways to produce paper, which should be conducive to both healthy maintenance of eco-system as well as to limit the industry to an optimal and essential level. This has focused our attention on the Management and Recycling of Indigenous Waste-Paper, which will not only help in the conservation of natural resources, it will also reduce power consumption, besides creating negligible pollution. Proper utilization of even a small piece of paper can, therefore, go a long way in the preservation of our forests to protect them from mercilessly cutting of trees for paper production, thereby to save ourselves from extinction.

Waste-Paper cycle Economics

The use of waste-paper to produce paper and paperboard is a good economics across the world. Recycling of paper is a significant part of the paper manufacturing process in Europe. Monitoring Report 2006 of the European Declaration on paper recycling by the European Recovered Paper Council (ERPC) has confirmed a high record of paper recycling with a regional rate of 63.4% higher than either Asia or America, keeping their target of 66% for 2010. The percentage of fibre recovery from waste- paper is very high in developed countries. For Instance, in Germany it is 73%, Sweden 69%, Japan 60%, Western Europe 56%, USA 49% and Italy 45%.

Similarly, the waste-paper is the most important raw material for the UK Paper and paperboard industry, which has used 69% waste paper in 2007. Waste paper recycling is crucial in UK due to the lack of forest cover, hardly 12% of the totalUKland base.

In a recent report, Central Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Ministry of Industries, Govt. of India has stated that by 2010, half of the global fibres used in paper making will be recycled fibres. The report admits the recycled fibre sourcing in India is a challenge. Though, import of waste-paper has been increased in the country significantly during 1995-2003 onwards to substitute long fibre, still around 20% of the total paper consumed in the country made it back as raw-material for papermanufacture because of inconsistent supply and low fibre recovery from indigenous waste-paper due to un-organized waste-paper collection system.

Poor Quality — Major Constraint In Recycling

In India, no systematic method of waste-paper collection and segregation is being followed, due to which the quality of the indigenous waste-paper available for paper making is very poor. To add this, more than 70% production of the paper in the country is based on the short fibre of agro-residues and hardwoods due to which it looses its strength considerably on recycling. After being reused again and again, fibres become too short for paper making. Further, the availability of the waste- paper from domestic sources is also limited due to the fact that the waste paper in India is put to many other uses and by the time it reaches for recycling to produce paper, its fibre value is almost lost. Indian waste-paper, therefore, largely not preferred its way back to paper mills. Unfortunately, availability and poor quality of indigenous waste-paper is the major constraint in the production of good quality of papers and paper boards.

Waste Paper Management

The instrument of waste-paper recycling in India is provided by the unorganized and informal sector, comprising Scavengers, Kabaries, Middlemen and the big business houses. Not only the material is sold from one of these levels to another, it is stored and segregated for the materials of diverse nature such as glass, plastic, paper and metals to supply for actual process of recycling that would finally undergo. Thus, the waste-paper, which is collected from domestic sources, business houses, offices, academic institutions and industries at a rate of hardly Rs.2.00 to Rs.3.00 per Kg is sold as a Mixed Record to Paper Mills on an exorbitant average price of Rs.12 Per Kg. When there are legislations in the developed countries on compulsory use of recycling of paper, no such stipulation so far exists in India. Therefore, there is a strong need to conduct a life cycle analysis of paper in the Indian context to make available better quality of waste-paper from domestic sources on reasonable price.

Necessity to constitute IRPC by the Govt.

No doubt, there would be a serious raw-material crunch for the paper industry in the years to come. Waste-paper only has the potential to substitute the inadequate supply of fibrous raw- material to it, which should be given due recognition by the industry as well as by the Govt of India. Sooner it is done, better it would be in the interest of the industry.

Govt. may constitute an Indian Recovered Paper Council (IRPC) to monitor paper recycling rate in the country annually on the lines of European Recovered Paper Council (ERPC). Its members may be from all sections of the paper supply chain, including paper manufacturing, recycling, converting, publishing, printing and suppliers to the paper supply chain. They will give priority to the prevention of waste, improving the recyclability of paper and paperboard products by eco-design, as well as further improving the quality of recovered fibre available for recycling. Members shall also make efforts to boost the recovery and recycling rates of paper and paperboard by educating and training people about the importance of eco-design to increase recyclability.

On the other hand, it is the Corporate Social Responsibility of the Paper Mills also to initiate steps to arrange their requirement of waste paper, collecting through their own efforts, as has been initiated by the ITC, Bhadrachalam recently for its paperboard and specialty paper Division. This will not only provide better quality of the waste paper to them to produce best quality of the product-mix with more than 85% yield, it will also be available to them on almost half the price of Waste Paper Suppliers. The un-organized sector dealing waste-paper suppliers in the Country does all mischievous things with their suppliers by wetting and mixing earth to it to increase its weight.

Project for Waste-Paper Collection and Supply

Waste-Paper based paper mills in the country may assign a time bound programme of 6 months duration to their R & D Sections to study the feasibility of collecting and getting the waste-paper of their requirement directly from the consumers of papers and paperboards. Any nearby city to the Mills of the size of minimum Divisional Headquarter may be choosen to carry out the studies.

Modus Operandi of the Project

Major Consumers of papers and paperboards are Industrial houses, Academic Institutions, Courts, Govt. and Private Offices, Banks, Hotels, Show-rooms, selected homes etc. About 500 attractive jute bags to handle minimum 25 Kg, loose waste paper and paperboard may be arranged. Two bags may be given to each selected consumer, requesting them to dump their two types of waste paper separately in these two bags only. All the consumers may be allotted some number for their recognition during studies.

Divisional Commissioner of the city may be contacted and requested to provide some open space temporarily for 6 months only against reasonable rent at a central place of the city to carry out the studies. The programme may also be tied up with the

Contractors of the Municipal Riksha Pullers to collect the wastepaper from the consumers and to deliver the same by them to the concerned person at the desired place.

Each consumer would be visited daily to record the quantity of the waste paper dumped by them in the bags and also to note down their feedback. This will help to screen consumers later on to get the bulk supply of the desired quality of the waste paper. Besides major problem in the weighment of the waste paper at the place of each consumer, other problems like collection, storage, segregation and transportation of the waste paper from the place of the consumer to the central place for bailing and storing in the city may be there. These problems are to be thoroughly studied and their remedial methods are be found out to apply them in the actual practice.

The percentage yield from the waste-paper thus collected and cost of one ton of the waste-paper at the waste paper Godown of the mills may be found out to finally determine the techno economic viability of the project.

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