The New ECMA President speaks

Pro Carton arranged an interview with the new ECMA President for an article in Folding Carton Industry. Jean-François Roche is Vice President Sales, Consumer Packaging Europe at Graphic Packaging International, he’s an exuberant Frenchman with a clear vision to lead ECMA into the next decade. Here’s an abridged version of what Jean-François had to say: “ECMA represents 500 carton producers throughout the EEA, including approximately 70% of the total European carton market by volume and a current workforce of around 45,000 people. ECMA is very optimistic about the current and short-term health of the European carton industry. Increasing consumer demand for sustainable packaging solutions is placing carton manufacturers in a strong position, which is in-turn accelerating innovation in packaging development. The industry was stable in 2015 and 2016, followed by encouraging growth of around 2.5% across the sector in 2017. This is showing no signs of slowing in 2018 and indeed appears to be speeding up, with many end users considering switching to cartonboard to support sustainability initiatives. Sectors showing the most growth in carton demand include food-to-go, fresh produce and health & beauty. To really cement long-term success however, particularly in light of the increasing focus on packaging and its position as a valuable resource in the media, manufacturers must work alongside the government and the recycling industry to educate the public about packaging and encourage investment in improved waste reprocessing infrastructure. Fundamentally packaging in general is in the spot light, so we need to ensure we are clearly telling our positive story as an industry. This means several activities need to be undertaken; we must ensure our support for segregated waste collection, education of the young in the value of packaging and cartonboard and the provision of guidelines for the design and use of cartons. Sustainability is about so much more than recyclability; rather than trying to replace one material for another, the emphasis should be on improving the waste reprocessing infrastructure and using the right substrates for the right jobs. Greater public and media education about these issues is vital to the success of sustainability initiatives. Collaboration between manufacturers of all materials across the packaging industry, government and the recycling industry is also important for improving the European sustainability situation as a whole, creating a strong combined voice to lobby for infrastructure investment. I would like my legacy with ECMA to be helping cartonboard become the champion of sustainable packaging, offering a positive choice for consumers rather than the ‘least negative option’. I am also dedicated to ensuring ECMA is there for all carton makers and that local indirect members’ voices are listened to. “