Winfried Muehling, Director of Marketing & Communication, Pro Carton

Email: muehling@procarton.com

Since the beginning of the year, we have established two Workstreams to closely integrate the strategic voice of our members on key Marketing & PR and Advocacy issues.
We thank Bettina, Regina, Elisabeth and Mike for sharing their views on the importance of collaboration across organisational boundaries.
We would like to emphasise that we adhere to strict compliance rules in all these meetings.  Detailed meeting minutes are shared with all Workstream group members as a follow-up to each meeting.

Marketing Workstream:

Elisabeth Stocker

Marketing Communication Manager

MM Board & Paper

What is the benefit of the Pro Carton Marketing Workstream?

Being a part of the Workstream provides good networking opportunities with peers. We can exchange experiences and knowledge and discuss the role that the Marketing Workstream can play in promoting the challenges and opportunities for our industry.

What are the main challenges/opportunities you see in 2024 for our industry?

Opportunities:

  • Innovation.  Our industry has the opportunity to innovate and develop new products and applications that meet changing customer needs and preferences. This could include new packaging designs, sustainable materials, and digital solutions. Especially the reduction of plastic packaging gives rise to new growth opportunities with innovative solutions made from cartonboard and fibre-based packaging with increased functionalities.
  • Sales channels differentiation & e-commerce. We can also seize opportunities in the trend of customizing and optimizing the packaging of a product to meet the specific requirements of different sales channels – e.g. retail packaging with strong visual impact on shelf vs. e-commerce packaging for efficient logistics. One product, two packaging concepts. Also in general: The growth of the e-commerce sales channel is likely to create further opportunities for the industry, as more products are shipped directly to consumers leading to increased demand for packaging materials.
  • Sustainability & Legislation (PPWR).  Sustainability and legislation is both – opportunity and challenge. Our industry can and will make a major impact in order to be able to produce even more sustainable products in the future. Of course, there are still numerous hurdles to overcome on the way to adopt more sustainable practices. Same with legislation: The PPWR certainly offers opportunities for our industry, primarily through the equivalence of recyclability and reusability of any packaging till 2030, but too much emphasis is still being placed on reusables with limited focus on the life cycle and costs.

Challenges:

  • Competition.  The industry is likely to face increased competition from alternative materials, mainly because of the direction of the current legal situation.

Bettina Tschoner-Fuchs

Marketing Communication Manager

Metsä Board

What is the the benefit of the Marketing Workstream?

The benefit of the marketing and PR workstream is the possibility of closer collaboration between key players in our industry – which results in us being able to talk about common targets more independently and to a wider audience.

The voice of an Association has a different perception, it is more powerful than one individual voice!

What is the importance of working across company borders?

Since we started meeting regularly as the Marketing Workstream, we – the members – feel more involved in the marketing activities being undertaken by Pro Carton for our industry, and feel that we now form a part of the overall marketing strategy.

What are the main challenges/opportunities you see in 2024 for our industry?

In my view, the opportunities for this forum lie in the fact that companies are searching for ways to replace plastic and many now need to integrate this as an action in their annual sustainability strategies.  Fibre-based board offers endless opportunities for brand owners, retailers and manufacturers to achieve their sustainability targets.  We can help them to find out how to do that!

The main challenge for 2024 as I see it lies in R&D, Research & Development … How can we as an industry develop the properties of fibre-based board to be able to apply the material to new and different applications in the market?  I am excited to see what progress we make with this over the next 12 months.

Regina Knoll

Manager Global Paper Portfolio EMEA

WestRock

What is the the benefit of the Marketing Workstream?

Bringing together a group of like-minded individuals who hold marketing roles across our industry enables us to jointly work towards common goals and to make a positive impact for our industry.  The Marketing Workstream pulls together individual skills from each participant and then harmonises these, enabling all participants to speak with one voice – internally to our own organisations and also externally to the whole industry.  We collaborate through this forum and focus our time on the main topics that our industry is currently facing.  We look to create tools and content that can be employed by all members of the Workstream, consistently.  In doing this, we are able to better promote the high recycling rate of fibre-based packaging in Europe – which is the highest rate compared to other materials – at 82.3%!

What is the importance of working across company borders?

Being part of this Workstream enables us to listen to and understand the different perspectives across all member organisations – challenges and opportunities can be perceived differently by companies in our industry.  The Workstream ensures that each individual member can offer their opinion and perspective, the group can look to align where possible and then under the banner of the Pro Carton association as well as our own marketing platforms, we can speak with one voice to the industry.  This is a powerful tool for marketing!

What are the main challenges/opportunities you see in 2024 for our industry?

The biggest challenge, I am sure I am not alone in saying, is the implementation of PPWR, EPR and the impact that will have on our industry.

The opportunity for this Marketing Workstream group is to find a way to talk to consumers, to start “educating” them.  Consumers play a critical role in supporting the circular economy.  We can make the most positive impact through marketing that is focussed on motivating and encouraging consumers to buy fibre-based packaging and to collect, sort and recycle their waste correctly.

Public Affairs Workstream

It has been almost 12 months since the creation of the Public Affairs Workstream, headed up by Mike Turner, Managing Director.  Let’s get an update on the progress being made by this group with a few questions answered by Mike:

Q.  Where do you see the benefit of the Advocacy Workstream?

Mike:  I see the main benefit of the Advocacy Workstream lies in the collaboration it engenders.  Collaboration, collaboration and collaboration are vital for our industry.  When our voices are aligned, our message resonates louder and deeper.  The Public Affairs Workstream is ensuring that our outreach is aligned with our membership and that the wider industry, and policymakers in particular, receive very clear positions from us!

Q.  What is the importance of working across company borders?

Mike:  By working across company borders, we can utilise the considerable talent that we have across our entire sector without any competition issues – we speak as one voice.

Mike Turner, Managing Director, ECMA – the European Carton Makers Association

Email: mturner@ecma.org

Q.  What are the main opportunities and challenges that the Advocacy Workstream envisages for our industry in 2024?

Mike:  As indicated in the European Carton Prospects 2023 Report’s chapter on the Green Transition, the move from plastic to fibre alternatives will continue to provide strong new business Opportunities across the folding carton sector throughout 2024.  This report is the most in-depth study of its kind for our industry.  It aims to give our members a deeper understanding of the elements that have been influencing our industry over the last 2 years. And for the first time in this study, we have included information on the growing transition from plastic to fibre packaging.  Challenges?  Decreased regulatory predictability will provide some headwinds for us over the next 12 months, I am sure!

Q.  Any other thoughts?

Mike:  Despite many intrinsic strengths, fibre-based packaging does not have a privileged position to satisfy legislators & consumer goods companies’ sustainability criteria.  Therefore, the Advocacy Workstream must take every opportunity to remind customers, consumers, policymakers, politicians and influencers about the sustainability attributes of folding carton / fibre packaging.