CII - Seminar on the packaged water industry

The conference was held in Bangalore on 30th June 2009 at the ITC Windsor. With cities expanding, the need for drinking water is exponentially increasing. The municipal systems are stressed to breaking limits and more and more people are turning to bottled water. And this is the case not only in urban but in rural areas as well. Today, the bottled water industry is at 1000 crores and is visualised to expand more! In this context the Confederation of Indian Industries organised a seminar on the Packaged Water Industry on 30th June, 2009 to discuss the scope of the market, the standards of quality and the methods of disposing the waste produced due to the industry. The source for most of the drinking water in our country remains ground water. This contributes to 80% of drinking water in rural areas and 50% in urban areas. However, claimed Mr. T.M. Hunse, Regional Director of the Central Ground Water Board, the excessive usage of Groundwater is the direct cause of dry wells and the depleting levels of groundwater in the country. However, the need for bottled water cannot be denied. Despite conflicts between communities and bottled water plants, many of the country’s poor are at the mercy of the municipal supplies which are erratic and unreliable, he said. Bottled water provides an alternative way to access clean and healthy water. At the same time, it absolves the government of its duty and ends up leaving farmers high and dry. He placed full responsibility on the bottled water plants to ensure people safe water (especially when the groundwater is polluted) and work towards conscientiously using the existing groundwater supply in an egalitarian manner.

In this context, Mr. S Ranganathan, the Director of the Bureau of Indian Standards described the minimum standards required by the Government of India for a certification as an authentic manufacturer. Stating that he receives atleast 2-3 applications a day for certification, he said that there are two typed: Packaged drinking water (IS : 14543) and Natural Mineral water (IS : 13428). The main things required, he said, is the approval from Central Ground Water Authority, the location of the plant to make sure it is away from pollutants, the borewell which should be completely protected, it should be dustproof and weatherproof, fulfil the area requirements depending on capacity and the personnel requirements and pass the tests. The marking fee, he informed the gathering, for a large scale industry is Rs.93,400 and for a small scale industry is 79, 400. What is important, he emphasised, is that most parameters should be tested externally, with only the simple tests being run in house. Following this, the discussion veered towards understanding the market.

In a review of the existing market conditions, Pratik Pota, the Head-South of Pepsico India, demonstrated that it was heavily south based, urban centric, fragmented and local and continuing to grow at a rapid rate. He also stated that most of the market lay in water pouches which were selling rapidly especially in the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. At the same time, in his predictions for the future, he slated it to grow at the rate of 20%. Based on global trends, he also suggested new avenues to explore, including extending the industry to enhanced and value added waters. He suggested that there will be a market for flavoured and functional waters, including water fortified with vitamins and minerals, strengthening immune systems, beauty enhancing and so on. There will also be newer packaging to reach out to different markets. It is in this framework that the second part of the session discussed the importance of entrepreneurship, especially social entrepreneurship and the different techniques a manufacturer ought to know. Mr. Ram Mohan Mishra, the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, GOI, emphasised the role manufacturers in reaching out to consumers with a willingness to pay but lack the ability to do so. He requested manufacturers to use indigenous tools and methods in their businesses and most importantly, to invest in the knowledge economy of water. He named water as a unifying force and urged everyone to consider the environmental impact of their ventures. This set the background for the next speaker, Mr Shankar from Ion Exchange. He spoke about conserving water in industry and emphasised that safety was the critical factor in drinking water.

He then went into details about the ways in which we can treat drinking water using the following:

1. Dosing systems

2. Sand filters

3. Activated carbon filters

4. Softener

5. Micron filtration

6. Reverse Osmosis

7. Ultrafiltration

8. UV Steriliser

9. Ozonator

He also focused on treating waste water instead of disposing it. By passing the water used for cleaning through a sand filter and putting it back in the raw water tank, we can reuse that water instead of throwing it away. Through this and other such simple methods, water used for industrial purposes can be reused. The discussion then turned towards the packaging of bottled water. Dr. Sania Akhtar, the , Deputy Director & Head, Central Institute for Plastic Engineering and Technology, described the different types of plastic which can be used for bottled water, clarified some of the myths surrounding plastic usage and described some of the preconditions of the plastic before it can be used for packaging water.

These include the following: the plastic must be clean, colourless and odourless; tamperproof and hygienic; strong enough to survive impact and pure, that is, it should not contribute to the taste and smell of the water. This session was followed with one by Dr A.B. Harapanahalli, Director, Ministry of Environment and Forests (Regional Office - South Zone), who spoke about the problem of waste generation due to the use of plastic. The problem mainly lies in the post-consumer phase where the used bottles and plastics are not recycled appropriately. Pointing out the main problem areas, he stressed the importance of plastic waste management, and the need for appropriate mechanisms to be established for the same in order to address this growing problem.

Concept Note : Seminar on Packaged Water Industry - Click Here

Agenda of the Seminar - Click Here

Post Edited @03:08am 29th June - Added venue details, documents for download.