In an Exclusive Interview with Packaging 360, Mr.Pankaj Poddar, CEO Cosmo Films Ltd, shares his insights on various facets of innovation & vision for sustainable growth.
Mr. Pankaj Poddar leads Cosmo Films Ltd. as their CEO since 2011. He is a regular speaker at various packaging industry forums and sits on the board of Organization of Plastic Processors of India. He frequently appears in press and television as an expert on the packaging industry. Under his leadership, the company has crossed multiple milestones such as being ranked 10th position in Fortune’s Next 500 midsize companies; and finding a place in the top 500 corporate list published by Dun & Bradstreet. He has been a proud recipient of various reputed awards. Some of them includes the recent “CEO with HR Orientation” award by World HRD Congress; the ‘Young Business Leader Award’ at the Dare to Dream Awards presented by Zee Business in association with SAP. He has also been awarded with the “Indian CEO of the Year award” by Association of Business Communicators of India His career spans over a period of 24 years in various leadership as well as management roles in companies like Avon, Delphi Automotive Systems, Reckitt Benckiser and E&Y.
Packaging360: Please enumerate the growth plans of Cosmo Films Ltd to cater to the packaging requirements of the Indian market.
Pankaj Poddar: These are the four product categories identified basis their niche applications and enormous scope for growth.
Products for Sustainability- We are currently working with several brands to develop sustainable solutions for packaging and labeling films. We wish to continue and expand our scope of work in this area. We also plan to engineer low cost home compostable films to help improve our endeavors towards a sustainable future.
Synthetic Paper- Being an ideal replacement of paper in applications requiring durability and longevity, Cosmo Synthetic Paper (CSP) has evolved to become one of our best selling products in the recent times. We have several variations of the paper like Top-Coated, Both Side Coated and Non-Coated; which can be used in a myriad of applications, and is printable with a variety of printing substrates and printers. The new varieties of Cosmo Synthetic Paper- High Tear Resistant and Digital Printing CSP; have generated a lot of scope for the company. We are also looking at developing products for our end consumers in the near future.
PS Labels: We have a wide portfolio of label films under the Pressure Sensitive segment- Matte, Transparent, White, Metallized and Repositionable, and we plan to build on this portfolio in times to come. For this very reason, we have prepped up our presence in the labels shows. We are also working a key labelstock manufacturer to develop liner less labels.
Direct Thermal Printable (DTP) portfolio-The Company is looking to expand into Direct Thermal Printing Films and its coatings as well. Our current portfolio consists of standard DTP films, top coated DTP films, high temperatures DTP films and the DTP paper. Direct thermal label films are used for a multitude of applications like information labeling (airport baggage tags etc.), manufacturing tracking, weight and price labeling.
P360: Could you highlight some of the packaging industry trends in India & how your company plans to partner with major brands to develop new applications & new markets.
Pankaj Poddar : Some of the top emerging trends in the packaging industry are-
• Consumers are getting more and more sensitive to the environmental implications of packaging. Therefore, brands and manufacturers are continuously looking for ways to improve their packaging materials and make an impression in the minds of their customers.
• The increasing disposable income of millennia’s coupled with growing urbanization globally has led to the rising demand of luxury goods and in turn luxury packaging.
• The growth of the global e-commerce market is boosting the packaging demand around the world.
• Technology-enabled packaging solutions are on the rise to provide consumers with more convenience, security, and information. Food packaging comes embedded with NFC chips or printed QR codes, Smart Labels that can be scanned using a smartphone to provide more information about the product.
• Most consumers have an ‘on-the-go’ lifestyle. This means they’re constantly looking for food options that are easier to grab, hold, eat, or carry. To meet this need, brands are putting in extra effort into making food packaging portable.
We plan to partner with several brands to cater the above mentioned trends in order to create sustainable, aesthetic and intelligent packaging solutions. We are currently working with several brands and have helped them develop fully recyclable laminates for their products. Cosmo Films has facilitated brands to shift to fully recyclable laminates, without compromising on the integrity of their product. We are also working with a key labelstock manufacturer to develop films for liner less labels, which would help reduce waste by rationalizing the whole structure; while also saving the extra cost of the liner for the brands. We are also working on PCR films for labels with almost 80% recycled content.
In terms of improving the aesthetics of the product, we offer packaging films in different appearance types. This includes clear, white, matte, silky matte, metalized, pearlized, pearlized-metalized films. Our Premium Lamination Films available in velvet, scuff-free and linen textures have been designed keeping the needs of premium and luxury packaging in mind.
P360: Please throw light on the “Sustainability” initiatives especially for the Indian market.
Pankaj Poddar: Some of the global initiatives being taken in creating a sustainable world are as follows:
• Shift to single-material/family structures for ease & cost of recycling
o PP rich structures
o PE rich structures
o Polyolefin structures(PP/PE)
• Shift to monolayer packaging/Use of less packaging material
• Exploring eco-friendly options like Compo stable material & Bio Plastics
Out of the options stated above, shift to same family or homogeneous structures is emerging as a clear winner as of date as eco-friendly options have cost and raw material concerns and achieving all barrier properties with them is a big challenge. Monolayer packaging again may not be able to attain all functionalities in case of demanding products. Also, homogeneous structures offer a better value realization in case of the recyclate. This increases the recycling rates as plastic waste fetches a higher commercial value.
In order to design complete PP laminates, PET needed to be replaced with BOPP in the outer printing layer. The challenge we faced was high shrinkage of the film at high sealing temperatures. We overcame the challenge by introducing BOPP based heat resistant films which are clear, non-heat sealable and provide excellent printability. In order to achieve recyclable structures for packages which require high seal strength, Cosmo Films has recently designed CPP film where heat seal strength can go upto 2.5 kg/inch. The film also exhibits high barrier properties and can be used for two ply structures with printable BOPP film as the other layer.
To the same effect, company has also come up with range of barrier films providing varying level of oxygen barriers. PE laminates have limited scope of applications, and are used where glossy surface and visibility is not a concern. PE structures also do not provide the requisite barriers, and their lack of high stiffness is a concern when processing on printing & packaging machines and metallizers.
For bigger pouches, PP & PE structures work well given that it provides reasonable clarity, seal integrity and barrier properties. Cosmo Films has developed several such polyolefin recyclable structures working closely with brands in different product categories. This includes soap, noodles, ketchup, tea sachets, and shampoo sachets to name some.
As an example, while working with a FMCG giant, Cosmo Films engineered a PP based soap wrapper(Clear+ White BOPP) to replace the existing BOPET+Paper+Hot Melt Adhesive structure; making the packaging easy to recycle, reducing almost 25% laminate GSM and enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the package as well.
Other than that, we are doing our bit as an organization on the manufacturing and on the product side to help our environment-
On the Product Side
• Structure-rationalization solutions
• Oxo-Biodegradable Films
• Use of Water Based Coatings
• UV stabilized Synthetic Paper- which can be used to replace PVC in outdoor promotional applications for shorter duration requirements up to one year.
On the Manufacturing Side
• Recycling of manufacturing waste for further film production as well as packing materials such as cores, hollow sheets etc.
• Continuous efforts to reduce water usage, waste generation and GHG emissions
• Constant monitoring of parameters like noise, illumination, ventilation, air quality etc
• Rain water harvesting and reuse of effluent treated water
• All plants use some amount of solar power as a source of energy
P360: In the industry you work for, R&D plays a very important role in defining your success. What are the specific initiatives you have taken on that front?
Pankaj Poddar: Cosmo off late has been investing a great deal in all its pillars namely people, processes and equipments. On the people’s side, we have a very strong and significantly experienced team; most of them are Doctorates and Post Doctorates. We want to increase our strength to almost 30 people in next 2-3 years.
We have an R&D lab with the most sophisticated equipments in India, which is recognized and certified by Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Government of India. The department comprises of dedicated individuals with more than 100 years of collective experience in the field of research and development. They hold multiple patents and product development awards.
Company has recently invested USD 1 Million in its new state of the art R&D facility at Waluj, Aurangabad. This new R&D facility is equipped with the latest and the most sophisticated instruments for analysis and application of products. Our R&D facility also consists of an application and printing lab for in-house testing and evaluation of new products before sampling. We have also invested in a pilot film manufacturing line from the research perspective and a pilot master batch line so that we can learn more about it.