Submitted by: Sam Upton March 29, 2022
As the devastating war in Ukraine continues, the paper and paper packaging industry is feeling the effects.
At the time of writing, the war in Ukraine is continuing its destructive path, with Russia intent on either occupying its neighbour or completely destroying it. Our first thoughts, of course, are with the Ukrainian people but, as with other industries, the war has had an effect on the paper and packaging sector.
Given the dangerous situation, many paper and packaging companies such as Stora Enso and Norwegian carton company Elopak have suspended their operations in Ukraine, as well as halting production and sales in Russia. And the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in Ukraine made a personal appeal to everyone involved in FSC certification, encouraging stakeholders to take a stance against “the violation of the integrity of the whole region and FSC values.”
Pressure On Resources And Supply Chains
While the paper and packaging industries gain a lot more of their energy from renewable sources than many other industries, the rise in oil and gas prices, as well as distribution costs, is having a significant impact.
Of course, along with energy, the other main requirement for paper and packaging production is wood pulp, and since Russia and Ukraine are both major exporters of timber to Europe, this has brought immediate pressures on supply chains. According to Wood Resources International (WRI), European imports of forest products from Russia and Belarus included almost 14 million cubic metres of logs and nine million cubic metres of softwood lumber in 2021 – numbers that have been dramatically reduced.
Furthermore, since timber from Russia and Belarus is now considered ‘conflict timber‘, it cannot be sold as part of PEFC- or FSC-certified products. This will significantly impact the amount of certified pulp available and, more widely, other forest-based products such as lumber for construction. “Wood and forest products from Russia and Belarus cannot be used in FSC products or be sold as FSC certified anywhere in the world as long as the armed violence continues,” said FSC in a statement.
The Environmental Consequences Of Conflict
War is a catastrophe for people, but it also has a serious effect on the environment. Attacks on civilian and military sites are causing air ground and water pollution that will be around for many years to come – especially in such an industrialised country as Ukraine. Ever since 2014, when Russia’s annexing of Crimea caused fighting to break out in the Donbas region, an ecological disaster has been unfolding, with flooded mine shafts and tunnels causing the release of toxic chemicals which threaten the water supply.
In a conflict where the eco-system has been directly targeted by the deliberate shelling of industrial facilities and radioactive waste repositories, the environment is being used as a weapon of war. And while Ukraine will be feeling the immediate devastating effects, pollutants have the potential to travel thousands of miles, carrying the possibility of respiratory problems.
The Humanitarian Response
As companies consider their business positions on the conflict in Ukraine, others in the industry are taking more direct humanitarian action. Dan Tyler, the CEO of Vism, a graphics and signage installation workflow software provider, has organised a logistics network to collect and move essential items and products to Ukraine.
A website has been created, which lists information on printers, sign makers, and industry suppliers who have volunteered to receive or collect donations. In addition, Fespa UK has produced a Go Fund Me page, enabling the organisers to buy additional items.
“This has snowballed quite quickly,” Dan Tyler explained to Print Week. “We helped a couple of people in the Netherlands and France get some items they’d collected over to Ukraine, and now we’ve ended up working as a team of volunteers in the UK and Europe to shift as much essential stuff over there as possible.”
At Two Sides, our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, and we hope that the conflict is resolved as soon as possible to minimize further casualties.
For more information on the campaign and how you can help, go to www.printforukraine.co.uk
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