Road to recovery

Features - International Recycling News

India’s paper recycling industry gathered in New Delhi in February to discuss that nation’s growing demand for recovered fiber.

April 6, 2015

The Recycling Today Media Group brought its Paper Recycling Conference model to New Delhi in late January 2015 in the form of the first Paper Recycling Conference India.

The Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi served as the venue for the conference, which brought together more than 200 delegates from the Indian subcontinent and other parts of the world Jan. 29-30.

Recycling Today and its media allies, Waste Recycling India, Mumbai, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based Waste & Recycling Middle East, organized the event. Several Indian papermaking and recycling associations also supported the conference.

The sessions at the two-day event sparked lively debates in the question-and-answer periods that followed, and the conversations continued at networking breaks that brought together brokers, processors and consumers of recovered paper.

The sessions also provided vital details on the status of the growing Indian paper industry and a recycling sector that is rife with additional growth opportunities.

Current deficit

As its paper industry continues to grow, India has come to rely on more than 2 million tons of imported recovered fiber to help meet its feedstock needs. But, with its domestic recovery rate estimated at from 25 to 33 percent, the country’s paper industry also is exploring how to recover more scrap paper closer to home.

Panelists at the conference’s keynote session offered varying opinions as to how India will find mill feedstock either within the nation or from overseas suppliers.

Jogarao Bhamidipati, who helps coordinate domestic scrap paper collection efforts for Indian paper manufacturer ITC Ltd., said India’s paper recovery rate may be as low as 25 percent. “What we actually throw away is what we need as an industry—nearly 8 million tons per year [of potential feedstock],” Bhamidipati said.

ITC operates a collection effort known as WOW (Wealth out of Waste) to encourage Indians to recycle paper beyond the commonly collected old corrugated containers (OCC) and old newspapers (ONP) grades. But, Bhamidipati said, “Things are not going the way we wanted. It’s a matter of discipline and the habits of people.”

Kolkata-based Emami Paper Mills Ltd. Executive Director P.S. Patwari said “the paper industry in our country is short of raw material. The future lies in recycling.”

An Indian government projection that its paper industry’s furnish needs will grow from 13 million to 14 million tons in 2015 to 25 million to 30 million tons in 2025 should be a wake-up call, Patwari said.

Patwari said even accepting a higher current domestic scrap paper recovery figure of 33 percent in India, that rate would still leave Indian mills from 7.5 million to 10 million tons shy of material in 2025.

Rahul Khanna, director of Khanna Paper Mills Ltd., Amritsar, India, offered encouragement that India would rise to the occasion regarding recycling. “We are going to recycle not out of choice—it is a necessity. We don’t have any other options, [but] necessity is the mother of invention.”

Consultant Arun Bijur of Chennai, India-based SPB Projects and Consultancy said he also was convinced “that recycling will be something that develops with much greater force in the years to come.”

Bijur, who has 45 years of experience in India’s paper industry, said the Indian government will need to play a role to introduce “a much better way to handle garbage” and recyclables in India.


Driving India's metal markets

More vehicles are on India’s roads each year, and more of them are produced domestically, giving optimism to the Indian nonferrous metals sector, according to presenters at the 2015 Metal Recycling Association of India (MRAI) International Conference in Mumbai in February.

Mohan Agarwal of Haryana, India-based Century Metal Recycling Pvt. Ltd. told attendees India has risen to become the seventh largest automaker globally and the second largest producer of two-wheeled vehicles (motor scooters and motorcycles).

With the motor vehicle industry as a major customer, Century Metal Recycling has grown in its nine years to operate seven secondary aluminum and zinc alloys plants in India with 225,000 metric tons of total annual capacity.

Globally and in India, Agarwal said aluminum “plays an increasingly significant role” in vehicles as manufacturers seek fuel efficiency and lower carbon emissions.

The four-wheeled, two-wheeled and three-wheeled (auto rickshaw) vehicles pouring onto Indian roads also require batteries, which has been good news for Jaipur, India-based Gravita India Ltd. Navin Sharma of the lead-acid battery and lead alloys production firm said India now is one of the top five nations in annual lead demand.

India is currently a net importer of lead, bringing in 200,000 metric tons annually, “including some scrap,” Sharma said.

India also is experiencing growth in nickel-bearing stainless steel production, said Anil Shah of Ni-Met Metals Inc. Oakville, Ontario-based Ni-Met is among the companies shipping stainless steel scrap to India, Shah said, with stainless 304 and 316 series bales and turnings being grades commonly shipped.

Shah said India’s stainless steel production was anticipated to grow from 1.9 million metric tons in 2004 to 4.57 million by 2020. India’s stainless mills use 53 percent scrap as feedstock compared with 76 percent in the U.S., he added.

More coverage of the 2015 MRAI Conference can be found at by searching the term “MRAI.”


Leading destination

North America’s view of India was the topic of a session that featured two of the largest recovered fiber exporters in the U.S.

Throughout the 21st century, China has established and consolidated its position as the leading destination for scrap paper exported from the United States.

But, the two U.S.-based exporters told attendees that India’s share of that fiber likely will grow in the next several years.

Session moderator Bill Moore of Moore & Associates, Atlanta, said annual paper and board production in the U.S. has declined since 2007, though recovery has increased. The booming paper producers in China have absorbed much of that recovered fiber in the past 12 years.

Peter Wang of America Chung Nam (ACN), City of Industry, California, said Chinese mills purchased 75 percent, or 11.5 million out of 15.3 million tons, of the scrap paper exported by the U.S. in 2014.

While China remains far and away No. 1 in volume, “India does play a strong role in the export market in the U.S.,” Wang said. He noted that while China brings in 68 percent of its U.S. fiber from the Pacific Coast, India helps keep Atlantic Coast exporters busy by procuring 99 percent of its U.S. supply from the East Coast.

The trend toward India having greater influence on the East Coast is growing, Wang said, noting that from 2012 to 2014 “China has reduced its [purchases] by 284,000 tons, while India is up by 262,000 tons in that same period.” Wang added, “India pretty much picked up anything China stopped buying.”

Ashu Vyas of Cellmark Recycling, San Rafael, California, also said recovered fiber exports to India are increasing “and we expect this trend to continue for some time.”

Vyas said a perceived blurring of specifications and grades in categories such as ONP and OCC concerns Indian buyers.

However, India’s paper mill sector relies on “customized” grades rather than “commoditized” grades, he added. Concerning this preference, he said, “This desire will influence the availability of U.S. supply.”

More Paper Recycling Conference India coverage is available at by searching “PRC India.”


Taking stock of stock lots

The city of Bhivandi, India, adjacent to Mumbai, hosts an enclave of entrepreneurs dedicated to converting unfinished and rejected rolls and unused sheets of paper into new products for the Indian market.

Hrishikesh Vora of Mumbai-based Victory Creations, says the several dozen companies housed in a series of contiguous warehouses in Bhivandi are dedicated to this paper (and increasingly plastics) importing and conversion process, known collectively as the stock lots sector.

In the district, which was bustling with activity on a Monday morning in February 2015, some companies are engaged primarily in warehousing purchased stock lots. Others deploy converting machinery.

The enterprising Indian stock lots sector even finds uses for misprinted labels or packaging rejected by overseas consumer companies. Victory Creations can convert such misprinted items into paper plates.

Vora says the district formed within Bhivandi largely for tax reasons, as importers can avoid a hefty warehousing surcharge that exists in adjacent Mumbai.

Pricing in this market can depend on many factors, Vora says, including the grade and thickness of the paper or board, the weight and size of material left on a roll and the extent of the damage on some rolls.

A list of grades that Victory Creations trades in as part of its stock lots business is at


The author is editor of Recycling Today and can be contacted at