The IPPTA seminar was organised on 25 and 26 March 2022 at The Leela Ambience Convention Hotel, Delhi.
Sharing and implementing best practices is an excellent way to help businesses improve their products and maximise the value of investments. After two years of the pandemic, when the paper industry is still witnessing a recovery, the Indian Pulp and Paper Technical Association (IPPTA) hit the right chord by holding a seminar on the theme of ‘Best practices in the field of manufacturing, environment, HR Image building and branding by pulp & paper industry’ during its 56th Annual General Meeting on 25 and 26 March 2022 at The Leela Ambience Convention Hotel, Delhi.
With the inaugural session setting the tone of the seminar, panel discussions and technical sessions covered many salient topics in depth. The discussions revolved around the emerging challenges & opportunities for paper & allied industry, branding & HR, and energy efficiency. Although the meeting was organised in physical form after two years of gap, it was well attended with each session witnessing a full house.
The event commenced with a lamp lighting ceremony by the Chief Guest, Mr. Pawan Agarwal, Managing Director at Naini Papers Ltd. in the presence of Mr. Raghavendra Hebbar, Chairman–Programmer Committee Business Development, JK Paper Ltd., Mr. M.K. Goyal, Honorary Secretary General, IPPTA, Dr. Ashok Kumar, Executive Director, Pudumjee Paper Products Ltd., Mr. Sanjay Singh, President – IPPTA and Group Head, Paper & Packaging, ITC Ltd. and Mr. Ganesh Bhadti, Vice President, IPPTA and President-Operations, Seshasayee Paper and Boards Ltd. Usually, in an event, bouquets are presented to the dignitaries, but IPPTA deviated from the normal by honouring the dignitaries with ‘Grow Trees’ certificates.
While delivering his welcome address, Mr. Raghavendra Hebbar informed about the various arrangements and thanked the efforts of the people in the organising committee. Talking about the current situation, he said that every crisis presents a chance to improve and reflect on how one can improve, preparing oneself for the challenges in the future. “As Winston Churchill said, ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste’, I also think that every crisis is an opportunity. The paper industry is gearing up for the challenges and addressing them. We have a number of issues and opportunities, thus, adopting the best practices will be the key to sustain and succeed.”
Mr. M.K. Goyal spoke about the scenario of the paper industry and trends impacting the various segments. He talked about the challenges pertaining to raw materials and emphasised that paying diligent attention to efficiency in manufacturing is the only way one can thrive. Further, he presented the theme of the seminar and introduced the speakers in the sessions.
The paper industry is continually progressing with rapid advancements in the technology being used in various areas along with maintaining a focus on sustainability. Since there will be plenteous challenges along with opportunities, Dr. Ashok Kumar, Executive Director, Pudumjee Paper Products Ltd. (PPPL) began his address emphasising that the industry should reflect upon how can it further improve and enhance its operations.
In the last seven years, the industry has initiated efforts like – celebrating ‘Paper Day’, and dispelling the myths about the papermaking industry. Dr. Kumar suggested that school children should be educated about the efforts made by the paper industry in the direction of sustainability.
Presenting an account of how the paper industry has evolved in the past four-five decades, Dr. Kumar said that the size of most paper mills previously used to be about 150 TPD or so, and wood or agricultural residues were the only potential raw materials. “We used to depend on hardwood plantations, bagasse, and mostly 70 percent of the production from waste paper,” he said, adding, “Presently, there are a large number of paper mills in our country in various segments. The mills produce roughly 1000 TPD from a single location. Further, there are many single machines that make more than 400 tonnes of paper or paperboard only.”
Talking about the progress of pulp-making technologies in the paper industry, he mentions that the country now has a BCTMP mill and all kinds of lines – washers, presses, etc. are there. The consumption of freshwater has reduced drastically due to the advancements made in the technologies used in the pulp and paper industry.
With time, the level of brightness in the pulp has increased significantly and there has been a great advancement in the recovery boilers. To bring further improvements in the pulp-making processes, he also suggested that the industry players should come together and strategise how to make the most out of their pulp, whether it is imported or indigenously manufactured. “And the way to do is installing high-tech and sophisticated refiners,” he pointed out.
Talking about the present scenario and the development of the paper industry, Dr. Kumar appreciated the improvement in the awareness of the paper manufacturers regarding the specifications and pattern, digital/online wet-end chemistry control of retention, and the advent of alkaline papermaking.
There are different categories of mills, i.e. wood-based, recycled paper-based, and agro-based paper mills and in the words of Dr. Kumar, the mills do not compete but ‘complement’ each other.
In his presentation, Dr. Kumar also highlighted that the environment-friendliness of mills does not depend only on the processing of the raw material, but also on the technologies being used in the manufacturing. He described the market conditions as “unstable” for some time, concluding that, “the concerns of sustainability and environment would be crucial for the paper industry”.
Mr. Sanjay Singh, President, IPPTA and Group Head, Paper & Packaging, ITC Ltd., while delivering the Presidential Address at the conference, said, “I have been a part of the paper industry for the last forty years and have seen tremendous improvements as well as the challenges in the time.” He also highlighted that the growth in the paper mills has been tremendous all across, irrespective of their size and scale. “Going forward, I am very confident that the future of the industry is going to be very bright”, he said. With regard to human resources and talent acquisition in the industry, he added, “We will have to acquire more young talent as talent retention is a big issue in the paper industry. We, at ITC, have been undertaking a lot of efforts to retain talent.” Giving a strong emphasis on the need to increase awareness about the sustainable efforts of the paper industry, Mr. Singh pointed out, “While the paper industry has been undertaking a lot of efforts in the direction of environment conservation, we still need to work hard to make people aware about the same.”
Mr. Pawan Agarwal, MD of Naini Papers Ltd. and also the Chief Guest of IPPTA’s 56th AGM, spoke about various upgrades and technological modernizations that have been introduced in the paper mill, while also taking the audience through the evolution of Naini Papers since its inception.
Mr. Agarwal says, “Today, any paper mill, which wants to grow in a sustainable manner, has to take care of its effluent being discharged from its mill. There is no substitute to it.” While the COVID-19 delayed the rebuild of PM2 by slightly more than a year, they were able to commission it in October 2021. He stated, “It (the machine) is running fine and we are getting some wonderful results. In fact, the quality of the paper has totally transformed and we are exporting close to 22 percent of our total production of PM2 to various countries.”
“As they say that one should start preparing for a crisis in advance, with the rebuild of the PM1, Naini Papers had prepared for COVID-19 that has been an unprecedented crisis.” Outlining the impact of sophisticated production lines at their unit, he added that they were able to match the quality of absorbent kraft produced from wood because of having a technologically advanced machine.
Emphasising the importance of installing systematic water management systems and water conservation practices, Mr. Agarwal stated, “A mill should start preparing for the recycling activities while installing the technologies where one can recycle more and more of its effluents.”
IPPTA has been giving awards since 2018 to people who have contributed to the paper industry immensely. This year, the awards were further modified, as the association now presents awards to industry players, entrepreneurs, technology suppliers, and academicians.
The lifetime achievement award was conferred to Mr. B.M. Khanna, Founder of Khanna Paper Mills Ltd.
Dr. A.G. Kulkarni, a researcher, and scholar, was awarded in the category of Research & Development. With an experience of forty years in R&D in the pulp and paper industry, Dr. A.G. Kulkarni has spent 28 years (including 10 years as the director) with CPPRI.
Mr. Anil Kumar of Shreyans Industries Ltd. and Mr. S. Ibrahim, Managing Partner of the Globe Radio Company were also given awards for their contribution to the industry.
The vote of thanks was delivered by Mr. Ganesh Bhadti, Vice President, IPPTA and President-Operations, Seshasayee Paper and Boards Ltd., to conclude the proceedings of the AGM. “It is really heartening to see the AGM happening in the presence of many stalwarts, industrialists, academicians, professionals, and also the young talent. The last two years have been very difficult and have badly hit us both – personally and professionally. The IPPTA members have shown their solidarity and the strength to prove that we can come out of many such situations,” he said.
The inaugural session was followed by a panel discussion on the topic of emerging challenges & opportunities for paper & allied industry that was moderated by Mr. K.S. Venkatagiri, Executive Director – CII Hyderabad. Talking about the issues, Mr. Vadiraj Kulkarni, Chief Executive, ITC-PSPD, said, “In my own assessment, notwithstanding what is happening between Russia and Ukraine, the two years since the advent of COVID-19 has significantly changed a lot of things in a lot of industries including the pulp, paper and paperboard industry.” Since India is a fiber-deficient country, the challenge is to ensure the procurement of wood. Sharing the pertinent solutions to this challenge, he said, “We can make wood available only if are able to work with farmers, increase plantation coverage as well as the catchment areas and the farmers get their due share. Besides, if the industry can partner with the farmers and government schemes, as well as undertake R&D in wood pulp making, which we have been doing for the last many years, we will be able to ensure security in wood supply in the coming years.”
Regarding the recycled paper-based mills, Mr. Kulkarni opines, “Coming to the recycled paper or recycled board and recovered fiber, we are heavily dependent on the waste generated in developed countries in Europe, and the USA, where the waste collection is efficient. There is a huge opportunity for the industry to partner with agencies, NGOs, etc. to increase the segregation of waste and improve the collection efficiency.”
About the efforts in the direction of sustainability, he concludes, “We, at ITC-PSPD, have significantly reduced the consumption of water and energy as well as increasing renewable energy share. And this is a very important area for the industry to work upon.”
Other panellists in the session included Mr. Ashraf Nathani, Partner, Mehali Papers Pvt. Ltd., Mr. Deepak Mittal, President, Federation of Paper Traders Associations of India, Mr. Manish M. Patel, Managing Director, The South India Paper Mills Ltd., and Mr. Sanjay Rajgaria, President, Indian Corrugated Case Manufacturers’ Association.
The technical session that followed, was headed by Mr. Neehar Aggarwal, COO, BILT Graphic Paper Products Ltd. and attended by notable speaker Ms. Tanvi Bhatt, Mr. Prabodh Kumar Patra and Mr. Debi Prasad Roy from ITC, Mr. Arjunan P N, Mr. Vipin Raghavan, Mr. Tajinder Bir Singh Chahal, and Ms. Samyukta Sankaralingam from Haber as the panellists.
Mr. Ashish A. Gupta, President, Emami Paper Mills Ltd. was the chairman of the second technical session that was on ‘Excellence and Energy’. Some of the panellists included Mr. A Harinarayanan, Mr. K Rambabu, Mr. Chandra Sekar E, Mr. Syam Kiran P. from ITC, Mr. Ganesh Bhadti, and Mr. Radhakrishnan from Seshasayee Paper and Boards Ltd. among others.
The second day of the seminar also saw the participation of many stalwarts of the paper industry wherein topics such as manufacturing, energy, environment, logistics, and equipment were discussed. The seminar was concluded with an award ceremony and a vote of thanks by Mr. Goyal.