Challenges Facing Folding Carton Printers
The folding carton industry is gearing up to take advantage of improving economic conditions by leveraging sustainability advantages, technology investments, and innovation.September 2012 By Paperboard Packaging Council
The sluggish recovery of the U.S. economy continues to plague producers of consumer packaged goods (CPGs), and folding carton producers have felt the sting from the recession as well. However, a consensus among carton-makers indicates that as uncertainty in our economic future dissipates, consumer confidence will grow, and the recovery will become steadier. PPC members report growth of more than 4 percent in the first half of 2012, a marked turnaround from the 7 percent drop in 2008-2009, and the 4 percent decrease in 2010-2011.
Sustainability on the rise
The packaging industry, including folding carton manufacturers, faces additional challenges as we recognize the need to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Paperboard is ideally positioned to take advantage of this trend, since for more than 130 years it has been a renewable, recyclable resource.
According to James Gordon, president and CEO of Winston Packaging in Winston Salem, N.C., many of its customers are looking to move toward more sustainable packaging. "With paperboard being a renewable resource, we believe it's a great time to promote the use of folding cartons instead of plastic."
Virgin grades of paperboard are made from a renewable resource—trees. Unlike some competing materials that deplete their resource every year, the industry plants more than three times as many trees than it harvests. By increasing the world's forests we are also helping the planet to scrub itself clean of carbon. The challenge for the folding carton industry is to emphasize to consumers that trees are a renewable crop, like corn or potatoes.
Along with the use of renewable virgin stock, Joel Zaas, president of BOXit Corp. in Cleveland, Ohio, also sees a growing request from clients for the use of recycled board.
In addition to paperboard's solid sustainability record, folding carton converters are seeing the benefit of a growing marketing trend: QR codes. These are small bar codes that can be scanned and interpreted by smart phones, connecting the user to promotional collateral such as coupons, Web sites, social media sites, or consumer reviews. This technology has created an impressive value proposition for packaging customers and CPG consumers alike.