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Supply of recycled fibre ‘crucial’ during pandemic

Winners of the Young Designers Awards 2019.

The proper collection and recycling of used paper is even more important during a health crisis, insists Pro Carton, the European association of cardboard manufacturers.

‘The carton and cartonboard industry is doing its utmost to maintain the flow of essential goods – in particular packaging for foods, pharmaceuticals and hygiene products – being aware of our crucial role to ensure security of supply,’ says Horst Bittermann, ceo of Pro Carton.

‘We take our responsibility to society very seriously. All European cartonboard mills are working at full capacity and converters are striving to meet the high demand of the critical sectors,’ he adds. ‘A big thank you goes out to all the employees within our industry who are doing a tremendous job to cope with the huge increase in demand that we are seeing.’

Even so, Bittermann warns ‘there will inevitably be challenges ahead’. To ensure wide availability of goods, the supply chain needs to work smoothly throughout, from its start to the consumer’s home. ‘For us that means having sufficient raw material, both virgin and recycled fibre,’ the ceo notes.

He adds it is essential that the supply of wood pulp is maintained and that paper-based packaging and other paper products are sent for recycling – preferably with separate collection. ‘It is imperative that local governments and councils maintain the operation of these recycling systems to guarantee that sufficient recycled paper fibre is available.’

At the same time, the haulage industry is under pressure to supply the required drivers, vehicles and containers. This is likely to be even more of a problem after the Easter break when some drivers may be required to quarantine before returning to their duties. Bittermann says he is relieved the EU Commission has recognised the important role the packaging industry plays in the supply chain of essential goods and has opened up the ‘green lanes’ with the aim of ensuring strong transport flows throughout Europe.

Meanwhile, Pro Carton’s annual competitions – the European Carton Excellence Awards and the Young Designers Awards – are still going ahead. Entries must be submitted by 21 May. ‘We are monitoring the situation on a regular basis,’ Bitterman says. The student awards are ‘ideal’ projects for students working from home. The organisation has also created several educational activities that parents can enjoy with their children.

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