Imposition of BIS standards on tinplate or tin free steel has become a major hurdle to the Rs 10,000-crore Indian metal packaging industry as it has fallen short of raw material, with most global players and suppliers of tinplate pulling out of supplies to India.
The industry, producing metal cans and containers, is largely dependent on tinplate imports from various countries. Moreover, prices of tinplate or the the raw material for metal packaging have escalated more than 15%, Metal Container Manufacturers Association, (MCMA) said.
The MCMA has requested the steel ministry to put the Quality Control Order (QCO) on hold until sufficient quantity of tinplate is produced in India to meet the industry’s demand of 7 lakh tonnes per annum.
The steel ministry issued the QCO on July 17 last year when the industry was already reeling under pressure for the pandemic-induced lockdown. While the industry required resetting its business post lock down, forcing suppliers to to go for BIS certification came as a huge road block since it was an expensive affair. India not being a big market for tinplates, the exporters stopped shipments putting the metal packaging industry in a great difficulty, MCMA president Sanjay Bhatia said.
The MCMA has urged the ministry to allow use of materials, aligned to ISO, which the MSME ministry’s FSSAI order has also recommended. The steel ministry’s QCO mandates BIS Certification on major inputs like easy-open ends, peel off ends besides tin free steel. The industry imports all the inputs from several foreign countries and the order notifiying that steel items cannot be produced, sold/traded, imported and stocked without BIS mark has held back all foreign tinplate mills from exporting to India.
Tin containers and closures are mostly used to seal bottle for soft drinks, beer, juices, flavoured milk and other non edible items. Unless the government put its order on hold there would be a cascading effect with huge job losses and shortage of metal packaging to the food and pharma industry. The government earlier issued QCO in 2008,2015 and 2017 but withdrew it in view of the demand supply gap and difficulties in implementation. The same situation prevails till date with a demand supply gap of 2.5 lakh tonnes per annum, Bhatia said.