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Chlorine-free tech to cost paper industry Rs 6000cr
The Times of India - 29 Apr 2003

The country’s pulp and paper industry will require an investment of around Rs 6,000 crore over the next two years to switch to a chlorine-free bleaching technology.

In line with the Rio Convention and the Montreal protocol, the Indian paper industry was required to eliminate the use of chlorine in bleaching of paper pulp by 2002. But following a recent dialogue with the ministry for environment and forests, the industry managed to get the deadline deferred to December 2005.

The largest contributor to pollution in paper manufacturing is the pulp bleaching process. The conventional bleaching process uses chlorine gas, which generates carcinogenic pollutants known as dioxins. In the new technology, nascent oxygen replaces chlorine as the bleaching agent.

Of the big players, only ITC has completely switched to the chlorine-free bleaching process. The company has invested Rs 227 crore at its Bhadrachalam plant to adopt the new technology. "The others are in the process of switching over," a source said.

Many of the user industries too are in the process of switching over to chlorine-free paper. Companies like Amul and Tetrapak, and ice cream manufacturers like Dinshaws and Vadilal, are already using chlorine-free paper for their packaging. "FMCG majors like HLL, P&G and Godrej are also expected to do so this year," a source said, adding that pharmaceutical firms were among the first to switch to chlorine-free paper.

The annual paperboard requirement of the domestic packaging industry is nine lakh tonne, of which ITC produces two lakh tonne. The other players, including Ballarpur Industries, West Coast and JK Paper, make about 6.5 lakh tonne while the remaining 50,000 tonne is imported.