UK: Timber packaging and pallet industry battles challenges

The packaging and pallet sector is under pressure from Covid, Brexit, and other factors, according to Timber Packaging and Pallet Confederation president, John Dye.

“While the pallet and packaging industry is fully operational, ongoing challenges for logistics-focused industries in general, and our sector specifically, is placing intense pressure on our members. We are continuing to monitor the situation and communicating with other industries and the government to ensure we keep the supply chain updated,” he said at the Confederation's general meeting.

The confederation had already written to MPs, including Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, asking for urgent assistance to address staff shortages and to reinstate the mothballed Renewable Heat Initiative to allow the industry to invest in kilns and the subsidy for red diesel. The organization has also engaged fully with the recent Extended Producer Responsibility and Packaging Waste Regulations consultation processes.

Several interlinked crises in related industries were deepening the issues, Dye said. These include the ongoing global imbalance of container locations around the world, which has pushed the price of shipping to new highs, the difficulty in logistics, haulage, and related industries in recruiting and retaining staff, and continued pressure on supplies due to a post-lockdown rebound in demand for timber in several markets, such as China and the US.

The Timber Packaging and Pallet Confederation annual UK Wood Pallets & Packaging Market survey for 2020, published jointly with the Forestry Commission, shows a 1.5% growth in re-use of wooden pallets, to a total of 49 million, while, despite the pandemic, production of new pallets remained similar to the previous year, at a total of 44.9 million.

“Who would have ever imagined that in a year that saw our supply chains being decimated and the main customer of our products, the construction sector, shutting down for four to five months, the wooden pallet and packaging sector has actually ended up manufacturing the same quantity of pallets as 2019,” Dye said.

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