by Dennis Colley
Thank you to Fibre Box Association (FBA) members, industry suppliers and the thousands of workers who helped manufacture more than 40 billion boxes in 2022. It’s become very apparent that the real hero of the supply chain is the corrugated box – as it protects, ships, brands and provides a sustainable solution. At a time when countries, municipalities, and companies are banning some forms of packaging, the corrugated box is heralded as the poster child of recycling. Our industry has worked hard to establish systems and best practices generating a 90+% recycling rate. Boxes are the most extraordinary, ordinary thing in the world.
The slowdown in the U.S. economy has certainly impacted the demand for boxes. Third quarter year-to-date stats show corrugated industry shipments are 2.9 percent lower than 2021 YTD, on an average week basis. Just a reminder, these numbers come after two record-setting years, 2020 and 2021, for box shipments. On a positive note, the National Retail Federation forecasts November and December holiday retail sales will grow between 6-8 percent over 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion.
The lack of qualified plant floor labor continues to be one of the top priorities for our industry. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation has now been approved in Maine, Oregon, California and Colorado. It is anticipated that up to 12 states will follow with approved legislation in 2023. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently evaluating the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in products and packaging to determine if they present a danger to humans and the environment. Supply chain issues with the availability of starch and other additives continue to plague our converting plants, while equipment deliveries are stalled waiting on electronic components.
Looking ahead to 2023, FBA will be focusing on several key areas:
Redesigned FBA website
More easily accessible data on any device
Continuation of the Corrugated Industry Promotion Program (CIPP)
Re-establishment of the Human Resources committee
Completion of the pallet overhang research project
Completion of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) using 2020 data
Customer meetings with leading retailers and brand owners
I am excited about 2023 and the opportunities it brings to the corrugated packaging industry. Thank you for your continued support. I wish everyone happy holidays.
Dennis Colley is President/CEO of the Fibre Box Association.