In recent months, nearly all European countries have imposed wide-ranging measures restricting public life and almost bringing it to a complete standstill. Covid-19 has had a stranglehold on Europe and the world, making “Business as usual” no longer an option.
The Covid-19 situation has imposed immense challenges in terms of production, procurement and logistics for the cartonboard and folding carton industry and its supply chain. Our industry implemented all necessary safety measures to protect employees in the best possible way in these extraordinary times. Despite the tense situation along the supply and transportation chains, the cartonboard and folding carton industry was always able to maintain production at a high level, thereby ensuring the continued supply of essential packaging materials for foods and pharmaceuticals.
Apart from its many dramatic negative effects, the crisis presents opportunities to change our point of view. In the case of our industry, the importance of packaging with its indispensable protective, hygiene and transport functions has increased. Whether foods, medications, hygiene products or any other consumer goods of daily use – the continued supply depends on the availability of appropriate packaging. The German Federal Ministry for Nutrition and Agriculture (BMEL) as well as many other European governments confirmed that packaging is system-relevant and part of the “critical infrastructure”.
The crisis – at least in the short term – is leaving positive traces in nature; both air and water quality have improved. Even when it is merely a snapshot of the present, it can teach us how to treat nature with more respect in the future. Countries who reacted to the pandemic early and proactively are coping with the crisis best. The same goes for the environmental crisis. We cannot afford to wait, but need to act now. The impact of the corona crisis has to be linked to an “ambitious climate policy”. The EU has made a start with new directives for climate-friendly transformation of the European economy. The most important ones for the packaging industry are the Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD). Both will have substantial impact on the choice of packaging materials, and cartonboard as the most environmentally-friendly packaging will gain greater importance.
Let us therefore take advantage of the current situation to make some lasting changes and come out stronger. All we need is courage and optimism. We have every reason to look ahead:
Cartonboard is sustainable in terms of demand and in terms of the environment.
Cartonboard is, and will, remain the packaging material of the present and future.
President of Pro Carton