Paper stocks are in demand as India bans single-use plastic

As the Centre has issued guidelines to states asking them to ban the use of select single-use plastics effective July 1, 2022, the Indian paper and paper products manufacturing businesses have outpaced the overall broader market indices in 2022, in line with the country’s move to phase out several single-use plastics to reduce plastic pollution.

Nevertheless, the ban on such items kicked in on July 1. The shares in paper and paper products gathered steam quite some time back this year. So far in 2022, shares of West Coast Paper rose 46 per cent, JK Paper 44 per cent, Andhra Paper 51 per cent, Ruchira Paper 44 per cent, Star Paper Mills 25 per cent, Rama Paper 14 per cent, Genus Paper and Boards 27 per cent, Yash Pakka 21 per cent, and Balkrishna Paper Mills 18 per cent, data revealed.

Earbuds with plastic sticks; plastic sticks for balloons; plastic flags; candy sticks, ice-cream sticks; polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration; plates, cups, glasses; cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives; straws; trays; wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets; plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns; and stirrers. These are some of the biggest contributors to plastic pollution.

Experts believe paper can be a major alternative as bamboo as a raw material is produced in abundance in the country and it’s a highly biodegradable item.

Through business expansion, there are many small and big enterprises and entrepreneurs in the country who can meet the rising demand for such alternatives in the company through business expansion. In order to properly monitor the process of phasing out of such plastic articles, a National Control Room has been established in the Central Pollution Control Board to monitor the enforcement of the ban, besides asking the state boards to undertake comprehensive awareness activities, including a social media campaign, interactive meetings with industries, colleges, schools, and other institutions.

The state boards have further been directed to intensify inspections of industrial and commercial establishments for effective implementation of the ban. On the demand side, directions have been issued to e-commerce companies, the leading user of single-use plastics, as well as plastic raw material manufacturers to phase out such items.

Several industries had earlier argued that India has a low production capacity of alternative solutions to such banned items, and any shortage of such articles may add up to the manufacturing costs and hurt their margins. To ramp up the production, capacity-building workshops are being organized for industrial units to provide them with technical assistance for manufacturing of alternatives to banned single-use plastic items with the involvement of various government agencies. Provisions have also been made to support such several enterprises in transitioning away from the banned single-use plastics.