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ITC to price chlorine-free paper "competitively"
Business Standard - 15 May 2003

Pradeep Gooptu

Users in the country will be now be able to source elemental chlorine free (ECF) paperboards and specialty paper (PSP) thanks to ITC Ltd. The company has commissioned a Rs 227 crore modernised pulp mill at its Bhadrachalam works to become the first producer of ECF PSP in the country.

"Worldwide, food and pharmaceutical segments have to use virgin ECF material for all packaging applications and the ITC product will allow Indian companies to source the ametrial locally", Pradeep Dhobale, chief executive of ITC’s PSP division told Business Standard.

Dhobale indicated that the ECF PSP being offered by ITC in the market would be "very competitively priced" against virgin PSP of all types. "In totality, the benefits to food and pharma producers as well as to consumers and users would be substantial", he said.

The ECF initiative was part of ITC’s efforts to make its PSP business internationally competitive in terms of product quality as well as compliance with environmental requirements. This would enable the company to offer superior PSP in the domestic market and also enhance export volumes to environmentally sensitive developed markets.

Under the initiative the ITC paper plant at Triveni in West Bengal had greatly reduced its use of water. More developments were expected at the unit in the next few months. ITC’s PSP division reported sales of around Rs 875 crore for 2002-03.

At present, many Indian companies use recycled PSP or virgin PSP which is not chlorine free. ECF PSP has to be mostly imported and is costly. This leads to deterioration of packaging beyond acceptable standards and often causes contamination of foods and flavours in materials.

ECF technology has been endorsed as the best available technology by the European Community as well as Environment Protection Agency (EPA) of USA. Under the Rio Convention and Montreal Protocols on environment practices, use of chlorine was to be completely eliminated by 2002 but developing countries like India have sought extension till 2005 to shift to ECF technology.