Carton industry in celebratory mood

24 September 2013

House-moving season appears to be upon us again, and as the 'Sold' boards continue to pop up with reassuring regularity in my area of west Kent, no doubt the demand for cardboard boxes must be rocketing.

In this issue of Packaging Today, Sam Cole addresses the issue of print technology within the folding carton sector (see features section), and cites some positive predictions from the European Carton Manufacturers Association (ECMA) of continuing production growth of 5% per annum to reach 4.5 million tonnes by 2015.

This month, ECMA is holding its 46th annual congress in Dubrovnik, with the theme 'The Search for Growth'. On the first afternoon (Thursday 19) Ken Waghorne, vice president global packaging at forestry products industry consultants RISI (USA), will present a comprehensive model for the global boxboard markets, to shed light on the implications for global trade of the "bulge" in China's boxboard capacity.

Meanwhile, at the local consumer level, the issue may be a more familiar one of image, in relation to the packaging of everyday goods. Recently I assisted a neighbour in breaking down some large boxes in which had been delivered some new folding dining chairs. These were very strong, high-grade folded corrugated cartons - two for each chair, in fact, one inside the other, and not to mention the expanded polystyrene (an opportunity missed?) helping to further cushion the items inside the boxes.

Impressed as I may have been with the quality of the materials, the overriding sentiment of the neighbours involved in collapsing these eminently reusable boxes, destined for composting by the local authority, was that of waste and "excessive packaging". There's still some PR work to be done by the industry on that front - not assisted in the UK, though, by the lack of a unified approach from national government.

However, Pro Carton is full of optimism in the run-up to its 25th anniversary, due to be marked on September 19 at the ECMA
Congress. The industry association's president Roland Rex firmly believes that cartons "unite communication, competence,
convenience and sustainability". And as such, demand for cartons is still there, even in difficult economic times. "I view the coming years positively," Rex says. "We have recovered from a long slump, and upward trends are on the horizon."

Sustainability will indeed remain a "trump card", he adds: "Cartons create a win-win situation for the branded goods industry, the
retail trade and consumers."

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