TMJ Global

Kerala could emerge as a global hub for making biodegradable paper cups

10 Apr 2023   |   3 min Read
K P Sethunath

Kerala has great potential to emerge as a global manufacturing hub of biodegradable paper cups, says India’s leading exporter of biodegradable paper cups. Biodegradable paper cups manufacturing will also help to end the plastic cup invasion masquerading as paper cups, said Jackson Mathew Director of Leetha Packs (P) Ltd.

Plastic cups are one of the main triggers for waste mountains leading to incidents like the devastating fire at Brahmapuram, he said. Paper cups and plates widely used in the state have significant amounts of plastics in them and such unrecyclable plastics pose a major environmental hazard to the state.

Since storage and trading in plastic-lined paper cups are banned in Kerala the operators are running a well-connected clandestine supply chain network in the state. On average every month 4 cr plastic-coated paper cups are smuggled into Kerala from neighboring states with Tamil Nadu accounting for the bulk of the supply.

Jackson Mathew, Director of Leetha Packs (P) Ltd.

"More than 95% percent of these plastic-coated cups consumed in Kerala are clandestinely traded without any invoice causing huge revenue leakages for the state apart from the environmental degradation", said Jackson. He said the state may be suffering a revenue leakage to the tune of Rs 60 cr per year.

"The matter needs the attention of the government at the highest levels due to three factors; revenue loss, environmental degradation, and loss of manufacturing opportunities for local entrepreneurs", Jackson said. Since plastic-coated material can't be sold legally, unscrupulous elements are engaged in smuggling the material, he added.

Leetha Pack caters to the leading global beverage brands and cash & carry stores such as Costa Coffee, Costco, and others.

According to Jackson, nearly 250 small-scale paper cup manufacturers in Kerala were forced to abandon their units resulting in a direct job loss of around 5000 people due to the dumping of plastic-coated cups masquerading as genuine paper cups.

"We are looking to rectify the situation and revolutionize the paper cups manufacturing industry. We are ready to help paper cup manufacturers in the state who were forced to abandon the business due to the dumping of plastic-coated cups", Jackson said. Along with the domestic market, export opportunities for sustainable packaging have great scope, he added. "Kerala could become a global manufacturing hub for these goods", he added.  “We are ready to provide the raw material and share other technical inputs for making genuine biodegradable material for food packaging", he said.

The government needed to take immediate steps to prevent the inflow of illegal material and develop a conducive environment for running sustainable small and medium-scale manufacturing activities by local entrepreneurs. Along with the government, the people in the state should also take a firm stand against plastic-coated paper cups and plates. Hotels, caterers, pilgrim centers and other stakeholders should be made aware of the danger posed by the plastic dump yards across the state. 

“When we use plastic-coated cups and plates we are also actively contributing to the hazard. So, we should be very vigilant on this matter. We should be aware that the presence of paper alone doesn't make a paper cup eco-friendly", he said.

Leetha Packs (P) Ltd established in 1979 is the leading producer and exporter of biodegradable paper cups from the country. Leetha Pack is also having the distinction to be part of the very few paper cup manufacturers in the world chosen for the world NextGen Cup challenge. The company has two manufacturing plants at South Kalamassery and Chalakudy. According to Jackson 90 percent of the product is exported. Leetha is the only company in India to have the three international and national certifications authenticating the quality standards with 100 percent biodegradable products.

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