The recycled paper market in India has been estimated to grow at a CAGR or compound annual growth rate of 9.3% according to the market intelligence report by Beroe. As the demand for recycled paper increases, there are chances that the exports will increase. High margins are a driving point for Indian paper mills as these provide them with the opportunity to grow. The recycled paper market in India is fragmented as the mills are located in locations such as Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh. However, the constant increase in demand shows a bright future for the recycled paper market.
The market drivers are incomes, exports, China ban, and end-use industries. There is expected to be an increase in demand as the disposable income has increased and more people are earning. India exports to the US, Europe, Middle East, and Sri Lanka. As the demand from these regions increases then so will the number of exports of recycled paper. Beroe predicts that the demand will increase further. China has banned waste paper which means it is a big opportunity for India as it can increase the supply. End-use industries such as agriculture, e-commerce, electronics, and FMCG have a high demand for recycled paper.
When it comes to the cost drivers there are four main ones; utility cost, raw material cost, exchange rate, and demand and supply. Utility cost accounts for up to 6% of the production cost and it does impact the price. Paper mills in India use coal for generating electricity. South Africa and Indonesia export coal to India and these prices have increased in the past according to Beroe. The raw material cost is an important one because up to 70% of the production cost is waste paper. When the prices of the waste paper increase, so do the cost of the recycled kraft paper. Hence, any fluctuations in the imported price have an effect on the total price.
The exchange rate impacts the recycled paper market as a stronger dollar will cause the price to change domestically. As the recovered paper prices rates dropped so did the price of the recycled kraft paper. The demand and supply are factors that directly affect cost. When China introduced the waste paper ban then Indian exports increased as the demand increased. Another reason was the US and China trade war that caused an increase in demand for recycled paper. Since 2018 there has been a steady increase in demand for recycled kraft paper. Many countries in Africa, China, and the Middle East saw an increase in demand. These affect the cost of recycled paper.
India imports about 40% of the waste paper from the US, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and the UAE. The reason is the increase in domestic demand and the growth of the economy. According to Beroe, the prices of raw materials stabilized which lead to a stabilization in recycled paper. Earlier, one of the paper industry trends was the high cost of raw materials which led to high prices of recycled paper. In 2017, there was an increase of 3.6% in imports because of the hiked prices. Although the paper mills had low demands at the time, things fell back into place after the prices went back to normal. India’s kraft market share has improved now.
While this may seem like a positive outlook there are some challenges along the way. The plastic packaging market is growing at a faster rate than the recycled paper market. The paper industry is constantly changing and evolving. While the demand for graphic paper has slowed down, sustainable packaging and digitalization are providing more opportunities. Changing the way people shop has provided a boost for recycled kraft paper as people are more comfortable with the recycled paper used for packaging. This has increased the demand for recycled kraft paper even further as more and more industries are adopting this approach.
The paper industry outlook is positive globally and there are chances that innovation will further accelerate the growth of the recycled paper market. Technological processes can be used to improve the manufacturing processes and make them increasingly efficient compared to how things are done now on a global scale. For example, digital manufacturing processes can be put in place and this can positively impact the recycled paper industry in a big way. Another example is the use of mill automation that can lead to improvement. Moreover, responding to the changing demand in the market will help the recycled paper industry to grow faster and meet the increasing demand.