But can you compare paper with as a medium of spreading knowledge and literacy?
In this piece, I shall highlight a few facts about paper and the paper industry being eco-friendly.
First, the Indian paper industry does not cut ‘forests’ to make paper. The industry plants more trees than it cuts for making paper. For every tree it cuts, it plants two. The industry is increasing the country’s green cover.
The wood used by the Indian paper industry is sourced from the responsibly planned plantations. These plantations are grown by farmers and the waste wood generated from the forest is used to make paper.
In India, 35 % of the paper is produced using waste paper and 42% of it is made by using agro-residues like sugar cane, bagasse, wheat and paddy straw. Only 23 % of the paper is produced using wood, out of which a higher percentage is made from imported wood pulp.
A lot of wood pulp is imported to make paper.
The paper industry is most sustainable among all industries. The steel and aluminium industries are dependent on natural resources that are not going to last forever. In the coming years, there will be no stones left, no iron ore, no aluminium. But paper will stay forever.
A lot of used water in the paper mills is treated and given to local farmers to irrigate the land. urea and other phosphates that enriches the soil is added to the treated water which helps the farmers cultivate better crops.
Farmers are given programmes by the mills to grow trees and bamboo, and agro farming is sourced from the mills as a revenue generation to farmers every season, thus contributing to agriculture and rural economy every season and every year.
Packing for healthy, safe food products and branded products is made possible by paper and paperboard, kraft paper which are eco-friendly and biodegradable.
It is a myth that paper is made from cutting the forest. It is good to read books rather than use electronic media. Paper is eco-friendly, recyclable and biodegradable.
At the same time, we need a more comprehensive and responsible forest and bamboo policy for growing and use of wood as raw material for making paper.
We also need a more vibrant and comprehensive policy of waste management, be it recyclable reusable or eco-friendly waste. A proper and efficient system of disposal, collection and reuse or disposal of waste is to be monitored and proper culture is brought in place in the society. We all need to work meticulously in this regard.
(Aseem Manu Bordia is the president of paper traders association, Nagpur and a partner at Laxmi and Company.)