Waste paper has become a major raw material for paper making all over the world now and many new plants are coming based on waste paper. The recycling rate has also improved substantially over a period considering the benefits it can provide to the consumers on one hand and ecology and environment on the other.
In comparison in developed countries the percentage of recovery of waste paper is very high. For instance in Germany it is 73%, Sweden 69%, Japan 60%, Western Europe 56%, USA 49% and Italy 45 %. Europe is truly a world champion on recycling. Major portion of (73%) f industry's requirement of waste paper is met through import which is on increase. India lacks collection, sorting and grading system of waste paper for proper utilization. Govt. intervention is necessary to encourage segregation at source and increase recycling to minimize landfill and attendant environmental hazards.
Due to stringent pollution norms and concept of clean environment, all expansion as well as new green field projects in Paper industry are focusing on recycled fiber and therefore, the availability of recycled fiber for export will continue to dwindle on account of excessive reliance on recycled fiber for paper making in the exporting countries. Countries like India who are fiber deficient depend largely on imported waste paper to supplement their raw material requirements which will feel the heat from now on as the export is getting dear and dear on value terms and less in quantity.
India consumes around 13 million ton of paper annually is able to recover only between 25-28% which will mean the large chunk of waste paper do not come back to the paper mills for recycling. The industry, policy planners and environmentalists must pool their resources and see how best the alternative use of waste paper is curtailed and send back to the industry for reprocessing. Unless such a concerted and unified action is taken, India will be importing waste paper in large volume entailing an unimaginable foreign exchange out flow. The industry has been taking initiatives by conducting awareness programmed, although on modest scale, in different parts of the country. But more is required to be done by industry as well as the government department both on Central and State and Municipal Corporations of the country for greater volume of recovery of papers.
In a recent report, Central Pulp & Paper Research Institute (CPPRI) has stated that by 2010 about half of the global amount of fibers used in papermaking will be recycled fibers. However the report admits that recycled fiber sourcing in India is a challenge. Import of waste paper has increased significantly during 1995-2003 onwards since Industry's dependence is increasing on imported RCP due to inconsistent supply of indigenous RCP and the recovery of indigenous RCP being low due to unorganized collection system IARPMA (Indian Agro & Recycled Paper Mills Association) feels paper recycling, in the overall contest of waste management, needs to be looked at as an enterprise. Since recovered paper has potential to substitute a high-cost and inadequate primary raw material, due recognition should be given by the industry as well as the government to this essential secondary raw material.
It must be recognized by all that used papers are not waste but a resource which should not be destroyed or contaminated if it has to find its way back in the production stream. It is high time; the Government takes a call to the demand of the industry for legislative support for collection of waste paper as in some of the developed countries in the world. The Government must also provide necessary infrastructure to all the NGOs and other agencies having objectives of clean environment and ecology besides providing practical support to the industry to use greater volume of such recycled fibers and equip such mills with infrastructure for collection and segregation of waste generated from the nearby areas.
The industry is amply demonstrated and exhibited it willingness to take up on itself the challenges of collection and processing of waste paper and also ready to join hands with all those involved in this movement of national crusade to use greater volumes of recycled fiber for a the better environment as well as reducing other raw material like wood for paper making.