Packaging industry says it’s too late to stop can and cardboard shortages
4 minutes to read
It is now too late to avoid temporary shortages of cardboard and aluminum boxes this fall, a leading figure in the packaging industry has warned.
Dick Searle, managing director of The Packaging Federation, said “the government should have reacted” to the shortage of truck drivers long ago, and the labor shortage is now likely to have an impact. on the methods of collecting the raw and recycled materials necessary for the production of cardboard paper.
The shortage of aluminum cans is due to the general ‘green’ shift from plastic to aluminum for beverage packaging, which means there has been huge demand at a time when there is no ‘ leeway ”to increase the capacity of the four main cans. companies.
Searle insisted that any shortages of these types of packaging would be temporary and urged buyers to “behave” to avoid storage. He suggested that they should get used to the limited range on the shelves instead.
“Now it’s too late, we just have to manage what we have and manage it effectively,” he told PoliticsHome.
“The public has an absolutely essential role to play in this regard. They need to behave and not act like they did with fuel.
During containment, demand for cardboard increased due to the scale of online shopping deliveries. Because 83% of the material is recycled, in addition to the labor required for production, the industry relies on truck drivers to collect old crates and deliver them for reprocessing.
Searle, who has worked in the industry for 55 years, said the amount of cardboard needed to produce packaging currently exists in the UK, but the manpower to get it to where it’s needed n ‘does not exist.
“The material is there, it’s just a matter of getting it to the right place,” Searle said.
The paper industry is also energy intensive, which adds an additional layer of difficulties due to rising energy costs. Along with Brexit and the pandemic disruption, businesses face a “perfect storm” of problems, Searle added.
“Brexit would have been difficult but Covid and Brexit made it much more difficult,” he said.
Recalling the three-day week in the 1970s, Searle said there was “no doubt” that the industry now faced a much more complex set of issues.
“There are going to be empty shelves and in part because of the massive shortage of truck drivers,” he continued.
Along with the steel, chemicals, ceramics, cement and glass sectors, the Confederation of Paper Industries called on Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng for immediate support, including introducing immediate control measures. winter costs on gas, electricity and carbon prices.
While the government has agreed to provide 5,000 temporary visas to overseas heavy truck drivers in an attempt to alleviate the crisis, Searle doesn’t think the measures go far enough. The government has also come under criticism that the visas, the longest of which will expire in early 2022, are too short.
“What they suggested in terms of 5,000 truck drivers is frankly saliva in the bucket,” he said.
Truck driving tests will also be overhauled, meaning that drivers will only need to take one test to drive both a rigid truck and an articulated truck, rather than having to take two tests. separate three weeks apart.
While this push to train more UK-based drivers has been welcomed by the industry, current training requirements mean it could take two years to hand over the 100,000 truck drivers the UK needs on the roads.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transport defended the government’s introduction of short-term visas for heavy goods vehicles and the streamlining of testing processes.
“This is a global problem and we have been working closely with the industry for months to understand how we can boost recruitment,” they added.
“However, we also want to see long-term solutions provided by employers through improved testing and recruitment, with better wages and working conditions.”
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reports and analysis: