26th March 2020 – Following calls from the packaging industry, the European Commission has confirmed that the transportation of packaging materials, including paper-based cartons and cartonboard, for essential industries such as food and pharmaceuticals, will be able to use its ‘green lanes’ and has updated its ‘Guidelines for Border Management’ to reflect the recommendation.
Short term demand for cartonboard has increased by around 30% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with particular spikes in demand for production of packaging for dry foods, confectionery, frozen food and pharmaceuticals.
To secure the supply chain during the crisis hauliers need to be able to transport raw materials to packaging converters or finished packaging manufacturers working in the pharmaceutical and food sectors without unnecessary delay.
The European Commission agreed with packaging associations across Europe that ‘green lanes’ should remain open for packaging delivery. They are now urging EU countries to allow vehicles to transport goods between countries via these fast-track lanes, which should take no longer than 15 minutes to pass through, including checks and health screenings of drivers.
The ‘Guidelines for Border Management’ also state that ‘Member States should act immediately to temporarily suspend all types of road access restrictions in place in their territory’ and ‘transport workers, irrespective of their nationality and place of residence, should be allowed to cross internal borders’.
To support the European Commission’s move, ECMA, the European Carton Makers Association and Pro Carton, the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers, have issued a document in 11 languages for hauliers to display when transporting printed cartons and cartonboard.
Poster in 11 languages, can be sent with goods and given to lorry drivers for their use in clearing borders
Board mills and carton converters across Europe are working hard to cope with the new demand, producing the packaging required to keep the supply chain stable and active. Cartonboard production is essential for many supply chains, which starts with sustainably managed forests, all the way to the supermarket shelves. A break in the chain could have serious consequences for the safe delivery of goods.
Tony Hitchin, General Manager of Pro Carton, said: “The carton and cartonboard industry is coping well with this unprecedented situation and intends to remain fully operational in order to provide sufficient packaging and ensure safe supplies of food and pharmaceuticals that are vital to European society at this moment. Cartonboard is the most sustainable of packaging materials and will continue to be so.
“The current situation surrounding COVID-19 is deeply distressing, and it is important that we recognise the importance of the cartonboard packaging industry during these difficult times. It is pleasing to see that the European Commission has acted swiftly as it will enable manufacturers to get their products on shelves quickly.”