It's Paper world !!!

It's a Paper world !!!

6:25 AM, 17th October 2017
It's a Paper world !!!
The need of the hour however, is to evolve with changing times without compromising the green cover of the planet. (File photo)

By Debarati Das

Paper is an indispensable part of our daily life. Be it a tissue paper in your backpack, stickons on your refrigerators for reminders, a piece of paper for making your grocery list, a travel ticket, a movie bill, a calendar on your work table, or a dictionary- at any point of time, you always have a paper on you. 

But the use of paper is consistently witnessing a shift. On one hand, the rising use of electronic devices is steadily encouraging the trend of going “paperless” to avoid wastage of paper. Like many others, over the years, I too have shifted to various mobile apps for making reminder lists, reading books and news, finding words on online dictionaries, referring to calendar, using e-tickets instead of printouts, and doing my small part towards a greener planet by reducing wastage of paper when it can be genuinely avoided.  

However, on the other hand, paper is also rising as the only ecological alternative to plastic which is doing more damage to the planet. So, there is a significant rise in the use of paper bags, paper packaging, etc. Despite several environmental concerns, the requirement for paper will always remain. The need of the hour, however, is to evolve with changing times without compromising the green cover of the planet.

Here are some of the trends which are globally governing the transition of the paper industry.

Smart packaging: This is an era of online shopping, which has radically transformed the packaging business and opened up avenues to be creative in delivering well-packed goods. The use of paper in this industry has definitely shot up exponentially but smart packaging will guarantee a revolution in this industry. Development of new eco-friendly packaging solutions, innovative packaging with minimal wastage, reusing packaging materials, etc. will ensure a sustainable growth of this industry.

Paper for wellness: There is an overall rise in the adoption of healthy lifestyle, not just in homes but also in workplaces and public spaces.  Hence the need for hygienic solution is on the rise and hence tissue papers, towels and other sanitary products made of paper are on the rise. There is a need to be innovative in the way paper can be used in a sustainable matter. Instead of virgin paper towel, napkins and tissue papers, recycled paper sanitary products made from post-consumer materials can divert valuable fibre from landfills. This will lead to less harvesting of trees for sanitary products. 

Green Construction: The rise in urbanization has also led to the rise in the demand for housing and construction materials, which includes paper, pulp and wood alternatives to cement and metals. Pulp & paper industry can play a major role in this segment.

Going Green: There are a lot of policies and government mandates for adopting sustainability. Various company goals are governed by the overall sustainability achieved. The paper industry can plan an active role in reducing a company’s environmental footprint by innovating “green products” while maintaining the quality and cost comparable to traditional products.

Smart IoT Paper: The use of technology can be the game changer for the paper and packaging industry. According to market research group Smithers Pira, while the smart-packaging industry will grow at an annual rate of 8 percent to become a $7.8 billion industry by 2021, the IoT packaging will grow at an astounding 18 percent per year to almost $2.2 billion.

IoT can be used in the entire supply chain of paper manufacturing right from raw material gathering to recycling. The technology can help in real-time information gathering about the amount, condition and maturity of the tree stock ensuring optimal harvesting.

The different industry needs paper with different quality variables based on weight, moisture, opacity, brightness, caliper, ash, etc. With IoT solutions, you can have a “smart” reel of paper which can produce rolls as per specific buyers based on a specific profile. This will bring down the downtime, maintain the quality of paper and significantly reduce the wastage of paper in production.

Suppliers could have a real-time connection with their paper producers and monitor the production process. Logistics can be more self-organized and flexible based on real-time information about shipment requirements.

Once delivered, the use of the paper products can be monitored and returned back for reuse. For instance, smart dispensers using IoT can wirelessly communicate with building management to keep restrooms stocked while alerting waste paper pile for recycling.

Encouraging Agroforestry: Every piece of paper thrown in the dustbin does not necessarily mean making a bald patch in the forest. Paper industry can be a well-organized agro-based operation instead of forest-based where farmers can grow trees in otherwise useless patch of lands to provide sustainable raw material to the paper industry. This way, agroforestry will provide jobs in rural areas, support the local economy and productively utilize otherwise unused lands while preserving the ecology of the planet without disrupting the forests.

Furthermore adopting a scientific approach in this industry will make the whole process more sustainable. For instance, using younger trees to provide raw material for paper mills is more ecological as according to scientists, younger trees absorb more carbon dioxide from the air. Therefore, a scientific approach to agroforestry will help reduce some of the risks of climate change. More research by the paper industry will help bring in sustainable and environmental solutions.

Paper is a very environmentally friendly material, especially when compared to alternatives such as plastic, however, a change in stance can bring in a balance between using paper and conserving nature.

© Chemical Today Magazine


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