EUROSAC Congress 2023: From nature to nature

More than 130 delegates met at this year’s EUROSAC Congress from 4–6 May in Verona, Italy, for a vibrant knowledge transfer and networking. Under the motto “Paper sacks: from nature to nature”, the discussions focused on recent EU packaging legislation and on various approaches for paper sack recycling and fibre recovery.

Despite the challenges faced in 2022, such as broken supply chains, exploding energy costs and shortages posed by the war in Ukraine, the European paper sack industry developed on a similar level as in the previous year with a total of some 6.2 billion paper sacks. It delivered only slightly less (-2.6%) paper sacks than in 2021. The variation was mainly driven by the construction sector which has a 60% market share and recorded falling delivery figures: -7.2% in the paper sack market for cement and -4.6% in building materials. Chemical products (-4.3%) and milk powder (-1.5%) also saw dropping deliveries. The sectors food products except milk powder (+9.1%), animal feed (+4.1%) and minerals (+1.7%) recorded gains. The downturn still affects the industry. This is reflected in –12% paper sack deliveries in the first quarter of 2023.

From the EU Green Deal through various environmental policies, to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation – the audience dived deep into the latest developments of the fast-moving EU legislation affecting the paper sack sector. “In 2030, the sustainability of paper sacks will need to be proven,” explained Krassimira Kazashka from CITPA. “The paper and board packaging industry is smart, innovative and capable to face the challenges and shape a sustainable future.” Also on the agenda was an update on the industry’s recent communication and research activities, which are contributing to the fulfilment of the ambitious targets. In line with the Congress motto “from nature to nature”, a special focus was set on initiatives and companies supporting and accelerating the circular economy with industrial paper sacks. A presentation of a breakthrough waste recovery technology from the US gave inspiration to the participants on how to recover fibre and promote circularity of resources. Examples of different approaches in the EU towards the collection, selection and recycling of paper sacks were presented from France and Italy. The French model focuses on the extended producer responsibility to create the financial system for recycling. At the heart of the Italian model was the collaboration with all important stakeholders along the paper sack supply chain. Together, they initiated a circular project for the collection, separation and recycling of paper sacks from the building materials sector.

The grand finale was the presentation of the industry’s most promising innovations at the EUROSAC Grand Prix Award. Saccarta won the Gold Award with its Window Valve Bag. Dydry from dy-pack was honoured with the Silver Award. Performance White Barrier by Billerud and EcoLayer by Klabin convinced the jury as Bronze Award winners. The entry Next from Alier received special recognition with the Industry Special Award. Most popular among the audience was Mondi’s Protector Bag ExpandForm. It received the Public Choice Award.