Good news and bad news for paper and board

20 January 2010

In this issue we have two special features on paper and board, which look at some of the challenges facing this sector, not least of which are environmental issues (see features section).

There is some good news and some bad news for the sector. The good news is that European paper makers reduced their emissions under the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) between 2007 and 2008, according to Cepi’s latest sustainability report. Not only that, it was the only industrial sector to achieve this.

Direct CO2 emissions fell by about 6.5% to 37.26 million tonnes in 2008, according to Cepi’s report. Indirect emissions were also down. The speciality paper sector, which produced materials for flexible packaging, reduced its carbon footprint by 14%.

Emissions to water continued to decrease, as did energy consumption and air emissions (except for NOx).

How is the sector doing commercially? In the UK, 2009 was a difficult year for the paper and board industry. However, according to research carried out by industry analysts Plimsoll, things are looking much brighter for 2010. David Pattison, senior analyst and author of the 2010 Plimsoll Analysis, explains, “The recession tore through the market in 2008 and most of 2009 like a tornado and accelerated the rate of change in the market. Aggressive ‘growth at all cost’ operators have been forced to abandon their reckless strategies. However, some amazing companies have come through the recession largely unaffected.”

When pressed on what likely changes he envisages in the market in 2010 he offers: “More job losses and consolidations, sadly. £1 billion worth of profit has been wiped from the market in the past year. Our latest analysis projects that a further 3,000 jobs will have to be shed.”

Is there any good news? Plimsoll’s report gives performance ratings on the top 558 companies in the market, and has rated 228 companies as ‘strong’ - lower than past years, but still impessive.

And there is some more good news. Readers of Converting Today are entitled to a £50 discount on the Plimsoll Industry Analysis – Paper & Board. Call +44 1642 626400 for further details, quoting reference PR/P140.

Maureen Byrne Maureen Byrne

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