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Creating Sustainability in the Paper Industry and the Way Forward


About 2000 Years ago, the paper was made using hemp, grasses, and rags. This sustainable process went on till the 1800 A.D. Then came the industrial revolution, and rise in literacy – followed by global demand for paper. It would mark the beginning of the sustainability crisis whose full impact would be realised 200 years into the future – and that is today.


Tiny Receipt, Major Concern


The concept of issuing something as small as a receipt can be seen as a microcosm of the more significant problem we are discussing. According to an online survey – the production of a tiny receipt leaves the below environmental impact.

  • 380 Crore litres of water is wasted globally
  • 1 Crore trees are destroyed
  • 95 Crore litres of oil/fuel is burned to transport this paper, and
  • 68 Crore kilograms of waste is created


Paper receipts are just the icing on the cake, and we know how many more paper products we use in daily life.


Paper is Big Business

In India alone, 5 lakh people are involved in the paper industry, 15 lakh more in sectors related to paper production, and 1 lakh working in print media. The trucking industry which transports this – employs 80 lakh drivers and 1.2 Crore helpers in India.

So the paper industry is the bread and butter of lakhs of Indians. Now the question is how much harmful deforestation is happening due to the paper industry. Deforestation is responsible for more than 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. What steps are these industries taking to promote environmental sustainability?




India was 23% covered in forest as of 2018. It increased to 24.39% in 2019. In 2019 they planted 220 million trees in a single day in Uttar Pradesh. The government has also released funds to various states for compulsory afforestation activities.


These are to be channelled towards the treatment of catchment areas, forest management, assisted natural generation, wildlife protection & control, relocation of villages from protected areas, the supply of wood saving devices, awareness generation and other allied activities. Maharashtra government has planted two crore trees and pledges to do another three crores next year. The Indian government also passed CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) law, which will channel 40 thousand crore rupees to states for planting trees.


Industries Leading the Way


“Before cutting a tree, you need to plant a tree. If you plan to cut 1 lakh trees next year for your paper product manufacturing company, you need to plant 1lakh trees first. Then you cut it”, says Chandramohan Balakrishnan, Consultant, Enmas Pulp & Paper Projects, Chennai.

Leading companies are doing just that!




ITC Paperboards


ITC Paperboards unit in Bhadrachalam has a capacity of 7 lakh tonnes a year.  The company has implemented a large scale afforestation programme, which has created a green cover over 7, 20,000 acres, spanning around ten states of India. In 20 years, over 130 crore high-quality saplings have been planted.


Tetra Pak


​​​​​​​Tetra Pak is not only a well-known name in the field of packaging but also a pioneer in the field of sustainability. Tetra Pak has been appreciated for its climate action and driving sustainable sourcing in its supply chain – achieving a place on the CDP’s prestigious ‘A-List’ in 2019.


The packages are mostly made of paperboard (75%), having low carbon footprint, as its primary raw material – wood fibre, if well-managed, is renewable.


Alternative Raw Materials for the Manufacture of Paper


“While wood is the main resource for paper making, there are plenty of non-wood materials like bagasse, bamboo, cereal straw, grass, etc., which are also applicable for paper manufacture. The use of these raw materials may bring significant advantages in reducing wood consumption and have a positive effect on the environment” opines Chandramohan Balakrishnan.


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