headline press information

Date 28th September 2010 / www.procarton.com

Interview with Roland Rex the newly appointed Chairman of
Pro Carton


"We have great products with the best sustainability credentials and which are requested by consumers, and we must ensure that our messages get across clearly and concisely to all those who are responsible for packaging in the supply chain. I am under no illusions that we have a significant task ahead but we have made a good start and my personal challenge is to manage and lead this development which is a task I relish and look forward to", says the new chairman of Pro Carton.

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Firstly congratulations on your recent appointment. Can you first tell me what involvement you have had with Pro Carton before this?

Thank you but before answering your question I must thank Stéphane Thiollier for all he has done during his Chairmanship of Pro Carton. He has steered Pro Carton through difficult waters following the significant changes that were made back in 2008 and along with me, I am sure that all members of Pro Carton are grateful to him for the way he has approached and handled this. It was no easy task but he has dealt with it all in a very professional and progressive manner and so I am now taking over with the Association in good shape and ready for the upcoming challenges.

Now to get back to your question. In comparison with many other people in the industry I am a comparative newcomer have been involved for “only” fifteen years or so having joined Weig Karton in Germany in 1995 as Export Manager and then becoming Marketing Director and a member of the management board in 2001. But during all my time at Weig, I have been involved with Pro Carton on the German committee and continue to be involved in the German Marketing Group. Since the changes in Pro Carton in late 2008, I have been a member of the Steering Group and so in that time have learned all about the Association and helped in the move from the old structure to the new. Now as Chairman I have additional responsibilities but I will be working with the established team at Pro Carton and so look forward to the challenges ahead.


You mentioned the changes in structure that took place a couple of years ago. Are you pleased with the way this has worked?

RR Change is always difficult and it has inevitably taken time to deal with these but I am now confident that we have the structure and people in place that will enable us to do what we need to do which is to promote the use of cartons and cartonboard. However we will make more use of resources in partner organizations, be it on an international or a national level. This will enable us to include expertise from outside the Pro Carton management team and to have a greater visibility in the markets with our messages. We are indeed fortunate that we have products that are sustainable and renewable and with the interest in sustainability that is so high on everyone’s agenda, we can offer information and advice to all interested parties to promote the greater use of our products.

There have been critical reports about packaging food in cartons. Can you comment on what Pro Carton is doing in this area?

This is without doubt the number one item on the agenda currently. I should first stress that cartons and cartonboard are safe to pack food and meet all current legal requirements. But as you say this is a vital topic and we are fortunate to work closely with both ECMA – The European Carton Manufacturers Association - and also CEPI Cartonboard which is the European Association of Cartonboard Manufacturers. Both these Associations are undertaking a huge amount of work in this area to ensure that everyone in the supply chain understands the real issues and that the carton and cartonboard industries respond in a timely and accurate manner. There is a great deal of activity being undertaken currently and Pro Carton’s role is to ensure that when this work is done, the whole supply chain up to the consumer is informed of all the issues in a straightforward and clear manner. Only a week or so ago, ECMA held their annual Congress and we took that opportunity to meet with both them and CEPI Cartonboard to ensure we were up to date with everything that is being done. This is a most important issue and I will ensure that Pro Carton learns, understands and makes statements on this as soon as all the information has been assembled.

Perhaps you can give me some thoughts on your plans for the coming year?

We agreed our budget plans last week at our Annual General Assembly and so have now in place our plans for 2011. I am pleased to report that the AGM agreed an increase in spending for 2011 and so this will allow us to focus on core activities and to develop new initiatives that will help our cause. We are already well underway in making the arrangements to attend Interpack which will take place in May 2011 and for this we are joining forces with the VDP and the FFI (The German carton and cartonboard associations) to ensure we have a stand that will be informative, attractive and interesting for the thousands of visitors from across the world that will attend this major event. We will also be continuing to focus a great deal of attention on all the issues surrounding sustainability. Just a few weeks ago we published a new brochure updating the carbon footprint for cartons and this shows that in just three years since the last figures were published, there has been an improvement of 7% in the industry’s performance in this area. We have also worked with ECMA to look at biogenic carbon and its place in the field of sustainability and have published independently researched figures showing the amount of carbon that is stored in the forest and in cartonboard that demonstrate that cartons and cartonboard are the most sustainable form of packaging.

Our website is one of the most important communication channels and this has been developed substantially over the last two years and it is our aim to improve this still further and to ensure that it reflects the needs of brand owners, retailers and designers in terms of information and background on our industries. This is available in no less than five languages to ensure that as many people as possible have easy access to all the information we have. The main website is enhanced by another that focuses on all the environmental and sustainability data and this too will be updated and developed to ensure it has the most up to date information for all visitors.

In the past we have commissioned various studies that provide detailed information both for members and all our target groups and we will continue to look at several ideas to commission additional studies. We will be sending out information via e-shots and as the database is being continually updated and improved we aim to reach a wider audience with this important and impressive information. Our Annual Carton Awards, which we jointly organise with ECMA, have just been concluded for 2010 with the announcement and presentations of the awards in Vienna. The full results can be seen at the dedicated website www.cartonawards.com. This event, now in its 14th year, has always proved popular as it showcases the best that cartons have to offer and it is planned that this will continue next year and the entry information will be distributed early in 2011.

And, of course, we will certainly have to deal with the question of food safety in relation to cartonboard packaging.


Where will you focus your activities?

We plan to make no changes to the main target groups of brand owners, retailers, designers and policy makers but the challenge is to ensure that we have the right contacts across these industries. We have in the past committed budget to improving the database and this will continue as we need to enhance the spread of contacts we communicate with. We are also extending our press contacts as this is in need of improvement and so this will be a target in the coming months and into 2011.

Furthermore we will be present at international and national events of the packaging and related industry with a speaker service, which will help to reach directly the decision makers and users of packaging with our messages. A closer co-operation with other organisations on both an international and national level will bring forces together and multiply the effect of our work.


So finally how would you sum up the challenges ahead?

At this specific moment, I have certainly taken on a big challenge. The past two years have been a time of significant changes that have, as I have said, been well managed by my predecessor but my personal challenge is to move Pro Carton to the next level. We need to ensure we are targeting the right people and providing them with the information they want at the time they want it. We have good people working with and for Pro Carton and also have the benefit of the support of virtually the whole of the cartonboard and carton industries in Europe. This is a wonderful resource and my aim is to utilise all of these resources to ensure that we inform, advise and help as many people as possible. We have great products with the best sustainability credentials and which are requested by consumers, and we must ensure that our messages get across clearly and concisely to all those who are responsible for packaging in the supply chain. I am under no illusions that we have a significant task ahead but we have made a good start and my personal challenge is to manage and lead this development which is a task I relish and look forward to.

Thank you very much.

Roland Rex

Roland Rex, Chairman
Pro Carton.

Roland Rex


Born 1957
Married, two children

Studies: Industrial Engineering

Main career steps before joining the board industry:
Management consulting
Machinery business (Sales international markets)

Since 1995 in board industry
Starting at Weig-Karton as Export Manager
Since 2001 Marketing Director at WEIG-Karton
Member of the Management Team
Responsibility: Marketing, Sales, Production Planning, Logistics

Active in the former ProCarton Germany section
and now in the German Marketing Group of FFI and vdp
Since 2008 Member of ProCarton Steering Group
Since September 2010 Chairman ProCarton


Suzanne McEwen +43 1 218 6918 mcewen@procarton.com
Background Pro Carton is the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers. Its main purpose is to promote the use of cartons and cartonboard to brand owners, the trade as well as designers, the media and politicians as an economically and ecologically balanced packaging medium.