Can Paper Steal the Packaging Crown?

The key drivers for the growth of paper-based packaging are growing GDP, changing demographics — more single serve packs and convenience packaging — sustainability and recycling concerns, technological advances, security, and the ongoing drive for added value.

Aug. 25, 2015 (PrintWeek) - 'Graphic is dead, long live packaging' could well be the unofficial slogan of vast swathes of the paper and print industry at the minute, as companies reposition themselves to take advantage of changing markets, or risk business failure.

The administrators of Paperlinx UK and Tullis Russell Papermakers both cited falling demand for graphic papers as a feature in the companies' downfall and since then three papermakers have announced price rises in response to, as Sappi Europe put it, "unsustainable" margins in the graphic paper market.

Indeed, Sappi this month pledged to develop at least one new speciality packaging substrate a year as part of its strategy to become a packaging innovator. It is creating a division for speciality papers at its Alfeld Mill in Germany, now a 100% specialty paper mill following a £60m rebuild of its PM2 paper machine that was completed last year. As Speciality Papers sales and marketing director at Thomas Kratochwill put it: "We want to get away from being a pure substrate supplier to a company that's offering packaging solutions."

Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) is of a similar mind, says UK & European sustainability director Lee Henderson.

"On the R&D side we’re working with large brand owners to produce the best quality fit for their brands. I can understand what Sappi are saying, you've got to be more than a substrate supplier now. Those who don’t work with the brand owners are no longer here.

"You have to be able to offer that innovation, the technology, that value for money."

APP recently commissioned industry analyst Smithers Pira to produce a white paper, Paper-based packaging trends to 2019, which noted "significant growth opportunities."

Paper and board currently accounts for 35% of worldwide packaging sales, which totalled around $280bn (£180bn) in 2013. Cartonboard and containerboard is 31% of the packaging market, according to the report.

The full story is available at: www.PrintWeek.com.

SOURCE: PrintWeek