The corrugated packaging industry is being affected by a diverse array of global trends, each driven by local efforts, innovations, and legislation. In this collaborative piece, TAPPI and AICC join forces with ACCCSA, Converter IT, and Corruga.Expert to explore the state of the industry across the globe.


Ukraine: Resiliency in the face of conflict

The corrugated industry in Ukraine is facing unprecedented challenges due to the ongoing military conflict that has deeply scarred the nation. With approximately 35-40% of production capacity destroyed and a significant portion of the workforce mobilized or affected by casualties, Ukrainian corrugated manufacturers are navigating a landscape fraught with obstacles.

The loss of key production facilities, as well as losing 10-30% of skilled personnel to the war effort, has significantly impacted output. Moreover, the need to prioritize safety measures have led to frequent production disruptions, further straining operational efficiency.

In these tumultuous times, new project financing has screeched to a halt, putting long-term sustainability efforts on hold. “Every company is working with their own money,” said Igor Tkalenko, editor at Corruga.Expert. “It is very difficult to get a deferral of payments from European partners, as everyone perceives Ukrainian manufacturers as something unstable — today they exist, tomorrow they may not.”

Despite these adversities, there remains a sense of resolve among Ukrainians, fueled by a history of resilience and a determination to overcome the current crisis, even as the toll of the conflict continues to mount.

While domestic demand for packaging has declined, opportunities in the export market have emerged for Ukrainian food producers, driving up the need for high-quality packaging materials. “It is the packaging of export products that helps Ukrainian corrugated manufacturers survive today,” Igor noted. The rise of e-commerce has also provided an additional lifeline for Ukraine’s corrugated plants.

United States: Operations moving closer to home

In response to global disruptions, there is a trend toward localizing packaging supply chains and manufacturing capabilities within the U.S. This includes the establishment of new production facilities and the adaptation of existing ones to navigate supply chain uncertainties, reduce transportation costs, cater to regional consumers and uphold quality standards.

According to the 2022 Kearney’s Reshoring Index Survey, an overwhelming 96% of CEOs have considered reshoring, started the process, or have already completed it. With U.S. companies relocating operations to domestic soils, box plants are discovering new avenues for collaboration.

“By localizing operations, corrugated companies are better able to provide short-order, customized packaging solutions that the U.S. market is demanding,” said TAPPI President and CEO Larry N. Montague. “By integrating more closely with domestic manufacturers, companies are co-creating packaging solutions that align with customers’ production goals.”

Localizing production sites not only simplifies the supply chain but also cuts down on logistical hurdles and costs. “For both suppliers and producers, moving production closer to the end consumer enhances efficiency and sustainability, reducing both the carbon footprint and the complexity of distribution networks,” said AICC President Michael D’Angelo.

Latin & South America: New environmental legislation favors corrugated packaging

The Latin and South American corrugated markets are experiencing robust growth, fueled by recent global investment in the region due to its strategic geographic location, abundance of raw materials and overall economic growth.

Notably, integrated packaging giant WestRock acquired Mexico-based manufacturer Grupo Gondi in 2022, reflecting the company’s desire to grow its presence in the region. Additionally, Kearny’s 2024 Reshoring Index revealed that Mexico has emerged as the largest exporter to the United States, a byproduct of the U.S.’s efforts to localize supply chains.

This growth is not coming at the expense of environmental initiatives. Governments across Latin and South America are implementing stricter standards to promote sustainability, pushing companies to innovate and adopt greener practices. These regulatory changes are aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of packaging, catalyzing new market opportunities for corrugated packaging.

“Sustainability is a continuous concern in the industry,” said Andrea Morra, Director General at ACCCSA. “Our region is increasingly passing environmental legislation, with Colombia, Chile and others already enforcing regulations restricting single-use plastics. This legislation is leading to a bigger push towards corrugated as the preferred packaging choice in terms of sustainability.”

This environmental legislation is largely driven by global consumer demand, incentivizing individual suppliers and producers to adopt additional practices that promote sustainability, including relevant certifications and waste reduction measures.

Italy: New legislation places pressure on corrugated industry

In the coming years, Italy will be dealing with the implications of the European Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), a new EU regulation that will require EU countries to set waste reduction targets, businesses to reuse packaging, and ban some types of single use packaging.

“The new legislation places pressure on the European corrugated industry, despite its strong recyclability and wide regard as a sustainable packaging choice,” said Andrea Spadini, Editor in Chief at Converter IT.

At the same time, Italy continues to promote the environmental benefits of corrugated, evidenced by its Made Green in Italy (MGI) certification. The Italian Group of Corrugated Cardboard Manufacturers (GIFCO) partnered with Bestack – an Italian open consortium between corrugated manufacturers created to foster research and innovation in the industry – to establish industry benchmarks aligned with the PEFCR (Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules).

If these benchmarks are achieved, GIFCO and Bestack will work to achieve the nationally-recognized MGI certification on behalf of the company. As Italian corrugated companies continue achieving the MGI certification, they further demonstrate corrugated as a truly sustainable packaging choice.

Despite new pressures, Italy remains one of the strongest players in the global corrugated market, with marked growth in key sectors. “The food sector – fruit and vegetables, fresh and processed products, drinks, fish, meat and chickens – will be a driving force, a segment in which corrugated packaging already represents a high market share,” said Andrea.

Big opportunities will also arrive by the push from e-commerce. This growth is following the progressive shift in consumer choices towards cellulosic packaging, considered more sustainable for the planet and for society.”

At SuperCorrExpo, co-produced by TAPPI and AICC, the aim is to bring together leading industry figures from around the world to foster a deeper understanding of the industry’s global status and to chart a collective path forward. To learn more about the event taking place September 8-12, 2024 in Orlando, FL, visit

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