Packaging serves as the interface between users and logistics companies and efficient and sustainable packaging is the key to environmentally sustainable logistics. Packaging deserves greater attention from improving the overall logistical efficiency perspective. In a consultation meeting organised by the Logistics Division of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on 9th February, Shri Pawan Agarwal, Special Secretary (Logistics) made the above observations.
This consultation was organised to define the scope and the National Packaging Initiative as part of the National Logistics Policy that is currently being finalized. This policy aims to reduce logistics cost, ensure product safety and promote sustainability. This consultation was held with Confederation of Indian Industry, various user industries such as food and beverages, e-commerce, 3PLs/4PLs. They all shared their observations on what prevails currently in the Indian packaging space and what needs to be done to achieve better results. These areas include regulations, standardization/ harmonization, research and development, skilling, sustainability, etc. There was a consensus that secondary and tertiary packaging needs focus.
Valuable inputs on packaging came from the 3PL/4PL participants and more such key players would be involved in the formulation of the National Packaging Initiative. TCI, TVS and APL Logistics were some of the players who represented this segment in Tuesday’s virtual meet. Returnable packaging – another vital aspect from the EXIM angle,was highlighted as an important area of intervention. Issue of Palletization and its role in improving operational logistical efficiency through better cubic utilization of space during transportation, was also discussed.
Shri Pawan Agarwal pointed out that Logistical efficiency can be driven by the user industry and user ministry and not by the logistic companies. In this connection, he mentioned that an inter-ministerial meeting would be organized to take it forward.
E-Com companies such as Amazon, Flipkart, etc. were urged to invest in sustainable packaging as they are one of the biggest users of packaging material. It was pointed out that dangerous and chemical verticals would also need special attention from the packaging perspective
The Special Secretary advised that research on sustainable packaging solutions implemented overseas needed greater focus. Recycling and reuse of packaging material were also discussed. On skilling, Mr. Agarwal advised the Indian Institute of Packaging to devise short term courses to equip the user industry to skill its workforce. He also requested the Logistics Sector Skill Council to prepare at least 8-10 job roles in the packaging vertical at the earliest to build the talent pool. Shri Agarwal said industry, academia and government would need to collaborate to foster research, development, and innovation and the Department of logistics would help lead that effort.
During the consultation, suggestions were also made to rationalize the packaging requirements for bulk goods such as cement, fertilizer, etc; establishing mechanisms for retrieval of packaging material, and the need for a robust reverse logistic mechanism which in turn would reduce cost. The meeting will be followed up with Sector-specific consultations to ensure all requirements were taken into account.