The importance of CSR

A couple of years ago, I read a report about a survey carried out by the Asian Governance Association. The report said that among top 10 Asian countries ranked on corporate governance parameters, India has consistently ranked among the top three along with Singapore and Hong Kong. That was fantastic, I thought first, but then it pushed me to a thought – is the Indian printing and packaging industry concerned with CSR activities?

06 Oct 2012 | By Supreeth Sudhakaran

Philanthropy is a term that sounds great but is also expensive. This is not what I say, but what a part of our industry feels.

“We do a lot of CSR activities but we don’t believe in bragging about the same,” was the ‘scripted’ response to my queries when I tried to contact 10 companies related to printing and packaging industry. Some say this is because our companies have an inherent "mental block" in reporting development programmes.

Basically, three core CSR models that are practiced in our industry are environmental management, workplace management and community service. There are few biggies of the industry who are actively committed. However, on a closer look, I found that most of the initiative circled around managing or reducing environmental concerns. Perhaps, because of the monetary (direct or indirect) benefits attached to it.

ITC's Paperboards and Specialty Papers business not only contributes in different CSR initiatives but also publishes its sustainability report on an annual basis. There are several social and farm forestry programmes spearheaded by the business. It also contributes in the field of collecting and recycling post-consumer waste from residential localities, corporate and educational institutes through its WOW (Wealth out of Waste) programme. 

Tetra Pak too has several similar initiatives as was outlined by Subodh Kulkarni during the PrintWeek India Conclave. Tetra Pak produces processing and packaging solutions from its plant near Pune. A lot of the "indestructible" Tetra Pak containers have started being recycled. Kulkanri mentioned: Tetra Pak has a recycling program that links students, consumers, the physically handicapped and street children. Tetra Pak carton boards are substituted for plywood, and used for items, like picture frames, desk organisers and furniture."

Similarly, West Coast Paper Mills maintains a colony in Dandeli that is self-sufficient with the help of facilities like hospital, shopping complex, temple, club, theatre, and a cable TV network. Also, Jal Nirman Yojna is a project undertaken by the district administration and is partly funded by The West Coast Paper Mills.

The chemical company, BASF has identified two social projects that are dedicated to make the society a better place to live. The first project Sadbhavana (meaning empathy) is dedicated to the cause of social upliftment in form of women empowerment and education. BASF’s response to natural disasters also falls under this project. The second project, Million Minds project, the company asks people to take a stand against corruption.

Canon India and Ship for World Youth Alumni Association–India (SWYAA-India) have set up twelve open schools to educate over 1000 disadvantaged children in the age group of 4 to 14 years living in eight slum clusters of Mayapuri, Naraina, Kirti Nagar and Chankyapuri area in New Delhi. Canon and Wockhardt Foundation came together to diagnose people with Cataract, Glaucoma and other eye related problems and provide free medical treatment and operation.

As a part of its corporate social responsibility, TCPL has adopted an Industrial Training Institute nearby its factory at Silvassa, located in Dharampur, Gujarat. The Institute offers vocational training to students of nearby villages. Since the induction of TCPL as an industry partner, the institute has also started special basic courses in printing and packaging.

Print firms aren’t far behind. Srinivas Fine Arts has contributed to the green belt development in their 69 acres green field project. Sai Security Printer’s Faridabad plant has several green initiatives that are built on rain-water harvesting and water recycle technique. Ajanta Print Arts, the Navi Mumbai-based packaging printing firm, has been undertaking an initiative for the betterment of its employees under the name Project Parivartan.

And it’s not as though one has to make huge investments to be sensitive about the environment and society. In fact, as Khushru Patel of Jak Printers says in his pretty print plant in Mumbai that "an a-grade working environment, special schemes for workers are a must for all companies. Why should print firms shy away from it??

This is true, after all, small things make a better tomorrow. 

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