China used to be the world’s major destination for paper recycling, as well as metal and plastic, but new restrictions on waste paper imports imposed at the beginning of last year forced many countries to redirect their waste paper to India, which was a far better choice that dumping waste in landfill sites or burning it.
As a result, according to the Confederation of European Paper Industries, during the first half of 2018 there was a 200% rise in waste paper being exported from the EU to India. While, as per the International Scrap Recycling Institute (ISRI) from the US, exports rose by more than 100% until October 2018 compared to 2017 from this country.
Waste paper is collected at the NR Agarwal recycling plant in the city of Vapi, in western Gujarat state, where mountains of waste paper reaching the ceiling are being sorted into different types before getting recycled. India is collecting more and more imported waste paper for domestic recycling, out of which it produces only 30% of their total paper demand. Ashok Bansal, the company’s executive director says:
“Most of our imports are from the UK and the USA. India is a raw material scarce country. We don’t have lots of trees and jungles to convert wood into pulp. We are mostly dependent on waste paper and that demand can be provided by the Western world.”
British newspapers form a significant portion of the waste paper India received. Workers use bulldozers to break open the massive bales of waste paper, then teams of women sort the paper into different categories. Then the paper is loaded onto a conveyor belt to be pulped and the resulting bluish mass is afterward treated with chemicals and coated unto huge, humming rollers which churn out large sheets of clean recycled white paper.
India’s need for recycled paper is quite big, they use the recycled paper for novels and exercise books, paper for technical design and charts, school books, cardboard boxes, and different types of packaging for the manufacturing sector, while a significant amount also ends up as newsprint.
The waste paper import has considerably helped the industry of recycling waste paper to grow, which means new jobs and boosting of the local economy. The Indian recycling industry needs about 14 million tonnes of waste paper to meet current demands, and domestic recycling produces only about 30% of that amount. However, Indian importers do meet some challenges when it comes to imported waste paper, it seems that last year when they first started importing greater amounts of waste paper some were unusable because they contained plastic. They now want to enforce more stringent rules for all countries about the kind of waste they receive.