Dr. Joerg Strassburger has been the Country Representative and Managing Director of LANXESS India since March 2005. He is responsible for the operations and development of LANXESS’ business units in India. Dr. Strassburger, in an email interaction with Jibran Buchh, talks about the enormous potential in India’s speciality chemical industry.
Can you share your outlook on India’s chemical sector?
In the backdrop of growth shifting from western markets to the Asia- Pacific and favourably growing consumer driven industries in India like construction, automotive, tyre and agrochemicals, India has the potential to build a $80 billion to $100 billion speciality chemical industry by 2020.
India holds a lot of promise for the chemical industry but not without some corrections that are imperative for its sustained growth. The challenges lie in the areas of infrastructure, manpower and support from the administration. The availability of continuous power supply, availability of natural gas, connections to common sewage and effluent treatment plants from the sites, good connectivity to major industrial clusters by highways, ports and airports are some of the quintessential infrastructure requirements that the industry presently has.
Since there are very few sustainable chemical parks in India, availability of land is scarce for companies to set up plants. On the raw materials front, higher cost and non-availability of feedstock is often a handicap for scaling up manufacturing operations. The potential of the Indian chemical industry can be leveraged if the concerns are addressed.
Wastewater treatment is also in great demand in the Indian subcontinent. Tell us about your company’s role in this segment ?
Wastewater treatment by industries is gaining momentum in India and the segment is an important area of business for us. Environmental norms and their compliance are getting more stringent so industries will now be forced to opt for waste water treatment. Removal of contaminants from water discharged by the industries will therefore be an important area of application for LANXESS.
Our solutions can help industries achieve zero discharge. For example, Lewatit ion exchange resins can be used to recover valuable metals from wastewater. Not only does it make water more usable, but the metals, when recovered, can offer an alternate revenue stream to industries.
Other applications of Lewatit ion exchange resins include removal of arsenic and fluoride from water. This is applicable to both industrial as well as potable water.
Large parts of India do not have access to clean water. Is it possible to make water accessible through new and innovative chemical technology?
Yes, processing of wastewater by industries, raw water from natural water sources and recycling water can improve the availability and management of drinking water. As we understand, parts of Indian population still do not have access to clean drinking water and the growth in population will only intensify this need. This will open up huge opportunities in the areas of both raw water and wastewater treatment.
An important application in this segment is the food processing industry. With increased urbanisation and increase in disposable income, people are opting for packaged foods. The food processing industry which manufactures packaged foods requires high volumes of clean water. This industry is still in its early stages in India and is likely to grow further. Food processing requires a lot of water in different stages and there’s hardly a step which it does not require water treated by ion exchange resins.
What are your company’s investment plans in India?
LANXESS has invested around €180 million in India. We now have manufacturing facilities for five business units at our site in Jhagadia in Gujarat and one in Nagda in Madhya Pradesh. We aim at growing our business and consolidating our position in the Indian market. The manufacturing base in India is a part of our global production network and it serves the fast growing Indian industries as well as exports to various markets worldwide.
What would LANXESS to achieve during your tenure?
LANXESS wants to be seen as the technology leader in all its businesses. In terms of growth, we have set ourselves a target of €1.4 billion EBIDTA globally by 2015. We are expanding our presence and capacity in growth markets to meet global demand, no matter where it may be. We focus on delivering market- oriented premium products that give our customers a competitive advantage. This flexibility and global reach makes LANXESS a preferred industrial partner in the world’s fastest growing markets.