Pune: For time immemorial, sweet shop owners in Pune have been using boxes made from gray-boards and straw-boards to pack their products. But most of this packing material is recycled from discarded paper, which often finds its way to garbage bins, making it unhygienic as packing material for food. However, for the past couple of months, leading sweet shop owners of this city are using packing boxes made from Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) paper, which is environment friendly, hygienic and non-contaminating.
``The old packing material used to reduce shelf life of sweets as it promoted rapid growth of bacteria. We were looking at a product like ECF paper as an alternative to grey boards and straw boards and now are using it extensively,’’ says Rajendra Gadve of Kaka Halwai Sweet Centre.
ECF paper was introduced in the Pune market by ITC during the Ganesh Festival. ``We have already introduced this paper for sweet marts in Kolkata but the adoption rate in Pune is much higher. In fact, it merits for a case study for ECF paper adoption,’’ says Niraj Srivastava, general manager, marketing development, paperboards and specialty papers division, ITC.
The company has estimated that the total market for the sweet mart packaging material stands at 1,200 tonnes. ``In the next one year, our target would be to penetrate at least 20 to 25 per-cent of this market,’’ says Srivastava.As a part of its strategy, ITC uses its channel partners in the form of package manufacturers to reach the market. ``In the last two months, nearly 50 of our clients in the sweet shop segment have switched over to ECF paper packaging,’’ says Sunil Bhandari of Cartoprint, a food grade packet manufacturer.
According to Srivastava, the ECF packets add 20 to 25 percent more to the packaging costs, but sweet mart owners are not complaining. ``This way we can provide our products hygienically to our customers. The cost is not passed on to them,’’ says Gadve.
ECF packing has been extensively used by the pharma and FMCG companies over the years. ``We estimate that the demand for packaging material in the sweet mart segment across the country is around 40,000 tonnes, which has prompted us to make a foray in this space’’ said Srivastava.
The company is also looking at cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad to promote ECF packing. ITC produces 3.5 lakh tones of paper boards, out of which 30 per-cent consists of value added packing material like ECF.