NC Saha reveals Respack 24 conference highlights; even as packaging optimism is on the rise

Prof Dr NC Saha, chairman of the Foundation for Innovative Packaging and Sustainability spoke to Team WhatPackaging? on the eve of the third edition of the international conference Respack 2024 on 13-14 June in Mumbai. He said, there will be focus sessions on metal packaging and cellulose-based packaging which are considered to be the alternative materials. Besides this, the two-day conference will discuss innovative printing technology as well as biopolymeric materials which are considered to be an alternative sustainable materials to reduce carbon emission towards a circular economy

08 Apr 2024 | By WhatPackaging? Team

Mr Saha: Respack 2024 is the best knowledge platform to learn more about sustainable packaging

WhatPackaging?: Respack 2024 on 13-14 June in Mumbai. Our readers say there are too many conferences.
NC Saha:
It is a fact that in recent days, there are a number of conferences. But most of the conferences are related to plastics materials, sustainability and the circular economy.  

WhatPackaging?: How is your conference different?
NC Saha:
Respack 2024 is the first of its kind of conference in India where the conference will not only cover plastics packaging materials. It will cover all types of packaging materials as well as technology. Our objective is to create awareness among all the stakeholders about their individual responsibility to develop innovative design, materials and technology. The idea is, post-consumer packaging materials should be easily recoverable and recyclable and will not cause any kind of environmental pollution due to littering of post-consumer packaging wastes.

WhatPackaging?: How will it be different from Respack 2023??
NC Saha:
Respack 24 will be different as compared to Respack 23. Because, Reaspack 23 focussed on product-based responsible materials like day one was packaging of food and beverages; day two was packaging of healthcare and oral care. For Respack 24 on day one we focus on optimal design and innovative materials. This includes sessions like optimal package design, the Indian packaging industry scenario and its prospects, export market potential, different types of innovative packaging materials, brand owners perspective. And on day two we focus on sustainable technologies. This includes different types of technologies like printing technology, labelling technology, sustainable conversion technologies, recycling technologies and statutory regulations.

WhatPackaging?: This neatly dovetails into our next question. Sustainability rules and regulations are impacting the packaging market all over the world. How is India faring on this front?
NC Saha:
I believe India is very much proactive about sustainability. The Indian packaging industry who are dealing with plastics materials in terms of manufacturing of raw materials, conversion into plastics packaging materials, printing and even plastics-user industry. For example, brand owners are working aggressively to explore the possibility of identifying alternative packaging materials which are sustainable with low carbon emission towards a circular economy. FMCG companies are working to modify the structural design of either flexible or rigid materials where the finished plastics packaging product will be made either from single layer or single polymeric materials. This will ensure the post consumer packaging materials can be easily recyclable.

WhatPackaging?: What about the role of the government?
NC Saha:
The government of India is also promoting the post consumer plastics recycling industry to produce PCR (post-consumer recycled material) for use with virgin plastics materials for the manufacturing of plastics packaging materials. As you are aware, FSSAI has notified the stakeholders to use 30% PCR materials with 70% virgin PET materials for the manufacturing of PET bottles for beverages.

WhatPackaging?: Sustainability means different things for different territories and factories and industries. In this sense, how does responsible packaging work? 
NC Saha:
Responsible packaging is a holistic approach towards sustainability. The aim is to minimise the environmental pollution or littering due post-consumer packaging wastes by making an awareness among all the stakeholders who are involved in the value chain like packaging raw material manufacturer, packaging converters, ancillary packaging materials and  packaging user industries mainly brand owners.

WhatPackaging?: Will your conference in June address these issues?
NC Saha:
The conference will have the following tangible benefits: to know more details about innovative sustainable materials developed by Indian packaging companies; to understand and gain knowledge about statutory regulation related to food packaging and Plastics Waste Management Rules like FSSAI, CPWM etc; to know much-more about alternative packaging materials like metal packaging, cellulose-based packaging and biopolymers; to understand the initiatives taken by leading brand owners and FMCG companies towards sustainability; and finally understand the different types of post-consumer plastics waste recycling technology.

WhatPackaging?: Almost all governments mention sustainability as top priority. Is it a priority for the industry?
NC Saha:
With the government's initiative towards sustainability, the Indian packaging industry is compelled to think about sustainability. In this sense many initiatives have been undertaken by them. Lot of awareness about sustainable packaging or green packaging is happening and everyone is thinking about how to save the planet for the future generation. I believe many youngsters feel that the time has come to think of different ways to develop alternative materials for packaging applications.

WhatPackaging?: How does one measure the recyclable content in packaging? We have heard traditional users (brands) of virgin asking for mixed content substrates. But with the lack of Indian manufacturers for this specific substrate; what’s the future?
NC Saha:
At the same time, a new vertical of packaging in terms of plastics packaging industry is developed. About 3,500 recycling companies  are involved in recycling operations. I feel, there will be not more than 20 recycling companies who have proper infrastructural facilities for mechanical recycling. In recent days, chemical recycling industries are coming up in India. But there are still a number of shortcomings.

WhatPackaging?: Such as? What type of shortcomings?
NC Saha:
So far there is no test method developed by ISO (International Standard Organisation) for the identification of  percentage of recycled content used with virgin materials. Even in India, the Bureau of Indian standard is trying to come out with a test method with the help of reputed national-level research institutions and rest houses. It is expected that in the coming years, a full proof test method will be developed.

WhatPackaging?:  We learnt in January that BRC/IOP has become BRCGS. This is the updated nomenclature of BRC. The full form is Brand Reputation Compliance Global Standard. The point is, there are a bewildering set of certifications which an Indian converter has to adhere to. How does a packaging specialist cope?
NC Saha:
The BRCGS Global Standard for Food Safety or BRC is one of the most important standards for food safety. It can be used for all processing steps which involve food. This standard will be used for all processing steps which involve food. This includes packaging of fresh food,abattoirs and all stages of further processing. I understand that most of the points of BRC are covered under the FSSAI Act 2011. I think these details are normally checked by FSSAI officials prior to issuing the licence of FSSAI. In addition, the food processing industry is taking action for the compliance of  good manufacturing practices (GMP and HACCP to maintain the hygienic condition of the plants and also to ensure that processed foods are free from all kinds of pathogens for human safety.  

WhatPackaging?: What is happening in terms of R&D? For example, there is no change in the traditional packaging in terms of its structure. What’s the future in terms of new materials and design?
NC Saha:
It is not true at an industry level. A lot of R&D is being carried out to develop new structures of flexible packaging materials. FMCG are also exploring the use of alternative materials by considering techno-economic feasibility study as well as compliance to environmental regulation.

WhatPackaging?: Interesting. So a lot needs to be done.
NC Saha:
Oh yes.

WhatPackaging?: How should the packaging industry communicate the good work to a wider world community? And how should the industry be doing this effectively? ...
NC Saha:
Respack 24 will be an ideal knowledge platform where the industry will have an opportunity to discuss and share the good work being done by the industry. This will be the best platform for the promotion of good work carried out by the industry.

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