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India's biggest packager sees profits in plan to cut plastic

Uflex aims to invest $500 mn to expand existing facilities and build new ones focused on greener materials.

Bloomberg|
Last Updated: Oct 04, 2019, 06.54 AM IST
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By P R Sanjai and Ameya Karve

India’s largest manufacturer of toothpaste tubes, snack packets and other flexible packaging sees profits in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022.

Uflex Ltd. aims to invest about $500 million over four years to build new factories and expand existing facilities focused on greener materials, Anantshree Chaturvedi, chief executive officer at unit FlexFilms International, said in an interview in Mumbai. Only recycled plastic will be offered with no new creation of the material, he said.

“We are walking away from clients telling them that we do not want to supply them fossil-fuel generated plastic,” Chaturvedi said.

Uflex is considered among the bellwethers for consumption in India, which has the world’s largest millennial population, a demographic that drives purchasing trends worldwide. While the company is also seeing the effects of India’s economic slowdown, it’s betting that increasing awareness about sustainability will offer opportunities for growth.

Bloomberg
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Rising demand from the U.S. and Europe for clean packaging options will continue to boost revenue, Kentucky-based Chaturvedi said. “However, the next phase of growth will come from a combination of developing and newly developed markets such as Eastern European countries, the Asian belt, Brazil and Peru.”

Uflex’s consolidated earnings for the year ended March 2019:
  • Net income 3 billion rupees ($42.5 million)
  • Revenue rose 17% to 77.7 billion rupees, the fastest increase in seven years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Uflex is building new factories in Nigeria, Hungary and Russia. It claims to be the only company globally that provides plastic packaging film with 90% recycled material, compared with 60% for its competitors, and plans to move to 100% soon. The company manufactures abroad but packaging activity is carried out only in India and its clients include PepsiCo Inc., Tata Global Beverages Ltd. and The Coca-Cola Co.

The Modi-led administration has vowed to eliminate all single-use plastic by 2022, more ambitious than a 2025 deadline agreed by about 200 global companies including Nestle SA, Coca-Cola and Unilever Plc.
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