PRIMA on-line conference: “Chaos creates opportunities”!

On September 22 and 23, Prima organized its traditional annual conference in the form of a two-half-day webinar, due to the Covid crisis. The opportunity for a great overview on the theme: “Chaos creates opportunities: in a time of weakening global economy and changing demographics, what are the implications for the graphic paper, paper packaging and tissue sectors?”

Leading speakers have followed one another. Among them: Henrik Sjolund, CEO of Holmen Paper, Nuno Santos, Executive Director of The Navigator Company, Berry Wiersum, CEO of Sappi Europe and Sven Ombudstvedt, President and CEO of Norske Skog.

The pandemic has acted as a trend accelerator in many areas. Thus, the tonnages lost in the graph cannot be compensated for by the good health of the tissue sector, the volumes not being of the same order. The CEO of Norske Skog also indicated that, despite the Covid, plans to convert the Golbey (France) and Bruck (Austria) plants from newsprint to Corrugated case material (CCM) are progressing as planned, with the final decision expected in early 2021. Among the other conclusions: access to fiber will remain a major issue and global warming is resulting in increased drought on trees, which have a greater tendency to wither. This is a major concern for the upstream side of the industry.

The challenges of sustainable development, circularity, recycling but also the possible transfer of market share from plastic products to paper were addressed by brand-owners (Ikea, Mondelez and Kimberly-Clark with regard to packaging of tissue products for the latter). While the growth prospects for paper material are generally promising, not all applications and uses are affected and progress will still have to be made, particularly in barrier coatings. The necessary cooperation of all actors in the sector was underlined by all the speakers.

For her part, Natasha Valeeva (Rabobank) indicated that the closure of the Chinese market for the importation of RPCs results in the development of recycled pulp factories in certain countries in Southeast Asia, the import of recycled pulp being authorized in China. Finally, in a very clear presentation on a complex subject, Mette Koefoed-Quinn (European Commission) provided an update on the impact of the Green Deal on the paper industry. According to her, new technologies must emerge in order to achieve carbon neutrality. Finally, she welcomed the fact that the important role of forests in reducing global warming is now recognized.

Valérie Lechiffre