Shailesh Nema, VP & Managing Director, Michelman India shares his thoughts on Sustainable Paper Packaging and promise it holds for future applications

The Plastic waste management directive enforced by the government of Maharashtra that have stringent regulations to promote sustainability has broad ramifications for the packaging industry and provides excellent opportunity for paper and paperboard based packaging solutions. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic that has considerably affected all the industries, there may be a slight shift of focus, however the need for innovative eco-friendly & sustainable packaging solutions continues to exists. There has been a conscious and joint effort from brands, converters, film manufacturers, paper mills etc., in developing green packaging solutions.

Recyclability is the major challenge in the use of plastics for packaging. Plastic based packaging which are not recyclable due to multi-layer design, accumulates in landfills, polluting the environment. Paper is an alternative to plastic, however there are several challenges in using paper but despite these limitations,

Paper has gained popularity, since it has high recycling value, easily recyclable hence environmentally friendly. Paper based packaging structures are renewable and biodegradable. It also provides a versatile and responsible packaging solutions for product manufacturers, retailers, and consumers.

Paper needs to be reinforced by using barrier coating technology to cope up with the limitations of paper. Improving paper's barrier properties is seen as a crucial step in increasing its viability as a packaging material. The missing performance and barrier properties of paper can be compensated by Water-based coatings which does not hinders with its ability to recycles effectively. Michelman water-based coatings are recyclable and repulpable, they are an alternative solution to current wax, PE extrusion coating, and film lamination techniques which results into that packaging structures non-recyclable and ends up in landfill sites.  The packaging combines the best aspects of two materials: environmentally friendly paperboard and barrier properties of water-based coatings.

Coatings offer paperboard packaging improved water barrier for seafood, fruits, and deep freeze applications like ice cream tubs and frozen food. These coatings also provide excellent print receptivity and can even enhance the aesthetics of the product. Coatings can also improve and impart Oil & Grease resistance on paper and this can be used for many applications like disposable take away boxes, which are most commonly used in restaurants, sweet boxes, sea food applications, etc. These coatings are widely used by e-commerce brands. A recent and important application is corrugate-based hospital beds for hospitals and quarantine centers. Michelman’s paper coatings have helped increase the performance of paperboard beds, manufactured by companies that have taken an active role in India's COVID-19 response. The Michelman coating applied on the paperboard makes the beds water-resistant to withstand mopping and disinfecting for repeated use. These 100% recyclable beds are incredibly lightweight, sturdy and durable.

Michelman, dedicated to innovating a sustainable future, has invested in MICC (Michelman Innovation Centre for coatings) where we develop water based coatings for printing & packaging. Our facility has a state of the art Pilot coating line, a formulation & Application lab and a finishing line. Michelman has a long tradition of innovation and sustainability with water-based chemistry. Because of this, our technology experts offer all members of the packaging value chain like brand owners, converters, film manufacturers, and the ability to collaborate and decrease the time it takes to commercialize improved and environmentally-friendly flexible packaging.

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About the author

Shailesh Nema

Vice President and Managing Director,
Michelman India

Shailesh Nema has been closely associated with the packaging industry for over two decades in India, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Before joining Michelman, he was most recently CEO at Ajanta Packaging where he oversaw manufacturing operations. He started his career at Greaves Cotton Ltd, Mumbai and also spent time at Avery Dennison India and UPM Raflatac India.

At Michelman, Shailesh is currently designated as Vice-president and Managing Director, overseeing business operations for South Asia and managing MICC (Michelman Innovation Center for Coatings) in Mumbai a packaging incubator to develop greener packaging solutions.

He is a mechanical engineer and holds a Master’s Degree in Marketing Management from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai and a post graduate diploma (PGDM) from Helsinki School of Economics.

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