Highlights of the PDIT2 Conference – 13 December, Pragati Maidan

Interview – Deepak Manchanda, former packaging head

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Deepak Manchanda, former head of packaging at Oriflame, Dabur, and Ranbaxy Consultant, The Packaging Consortium.
Deepak Manchanda, former head of packaging at Oriflame, Dabur, and Ranbaxy Consultant, The Packaging Consortium.

“I believe the packaging industry today is under extraordinary pressure to rethink its role in the country’s economy. Governments, as well as consumer groups, want the packaging industry to own up for the mess it creates in the environment in its post-consumer-use state. This means that the packaging industry must not only produce effective packaging with good shelf-life and shelf-appeal but also innovate materials and processes that reduce the amount of packaging needed to make it recyclable,” says Deepak Manchanda, a former packaging head with numerous brands across the country.

In other words, the industry is being increasingly obliged to reduce the resources it uses and also become an active part of the circular economy that demands materials to become fully recyclable and reusable. While these ideas may not be new, at this point in time there is a global awareness that has come about, arising perhaps from the shrill campaigns about climate change as well as Swachh Bharat in India. A recurrent theme in all these campaigns is packaging litter in the urban, rural and landfill environment, which is looked upon as a major miscreant and everybody wants it to disappear.

Ban on single-use plastics and plastic waste management

Concurrent with all this is the talk of bans on the use of single-use plastic and plastic waste management rules, which impose heavy penalties on those polluting the environment with plastic packaging waste which is non-biodegradable and continues to leach toxins into the landfills for hundreds of years after it gets discarded. It is for such reasons that the packaging industry – in particular, the plastic packaging manufacturers – is being forced to confront its raison d’etre and find new, innovative ways to meet packaging demand and yet comply with statutory embargoes.

“These compliances are not easy for the industry, and that is where the pain point lies. We believe meeting all the requirements and ticking all the boxes is as complex as trying to ‘square a circle’ – the circle of circular economy. Hence, the theme of PDIT2 conference is ‘Squaring the Circle of Responsible Packaging.’ During the conference, we expect to look at this theme from various perspectives, from that of the brand owners’, the regulatory authorities as well as the innovators and pioneering entrepreneurs trying to create new paradigms,” adds Manchanda.

Active and Intelligent packaging module in PDIT2 conference

Active and Intelligent packaging has been added as a unique concept in the PDIT2 conference. Through this module, the conference aims to examine the emerging role of active and intelligent packaging, which will be showcased by members of the Active & Intelligent Packaging Industries Association and offer updates on topics such as ‘Advances in NFC Technology for Brand Experience,’ ‘Potential Role of Smart Packaging in Indian market for Safe Food & Save Food Campaigns,’ and ‘Future of Advances in Smart Packaging.’

An understanding of these topics in the context of the Indian market is vital for the future of the industry and its re-calibration in the context of responsible packaging. The PDIT2 conference offers a unique opportunity to learn about these subjects from international experts, who have flown down to India just for this purpose.

PDIT2 Awards

A unique and never-before aspect of the PDIT conference this time is the segment on highlighting case studies of actual packaging developments by convertors and brand owners. The case studies have been segmented into three categories ‒ recognizing Design, Innovation and Technology. Due to a spate of entries, a new category of packaging for Social Impact has also been added.

In the case study sessions, selected case studies will be presented and judged by an experienced jury for recognition and awards in the category of entry. Convertors stand to benefit by examples of the work shown in the case studies and be inspired to participate even more enthusiastically the next time around. “In the current doomsday scenario of climate change staring us all in the face, there is now only one message that the industry needs to get through this conference. I am tempted to call it SOS i.e. Save Our Sustainability. In other words, there is a sustainability emergency in the world and the packaging industry needs to act responsibly now,” Manchanda concludes.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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