29 March 2020 Paper

Covid-19: Paper production ring fenced in Italy

Paper production, like print, is an essential industry, says Italian government as it tightens lock down to slow spread of virus.

The Italian government has confirmed that printing and paper manufacturing remain essential industries as the lock down to slow the spread of Covid-19 continues in the country.

The ruling, which is likely to be endorsed by other EU members, has the backing of the major pan European industry organisations. However, manufacturing of paper has been disrupted. Some mills have taken downtime including Cartiere del Garda in Italy, which produces woodfree coated papers. Burgo Ardennes in Belgium, which produces the same style of paper, has also stopped production temporarily. This is for a deep clean of the mill and to ease employee concerns for their safety at work. It is scheduled to recommence production this week.

Fedrigoni’s mills continue to operate normally, says UK managing director Simon Pilkington. “Our factories in Italy (including logistics, warehouses and transport) will therefore continue to be fully operational, and we will thus be able to keep fulfilling our clients’ orders,” he says.

In the UK Caledonian Paper, a producer of LWC web offset paper, has reported production difficulties because of absenteeism among staff, with any shortfall being made up from other UPM mills.

But the qualification of paper as a key industry lies with its importance for the hygiene, pharmaceutical, food packaging sectors. The hygiene aspect in the form of toilet tissue has been in the spotlight after greater than anticipated sales. The Confederation of Paper Industries, the European body for paper producers, has called for all industry categories under Nace 17, the descriptor for all types of paper production, to be exempt from lock down regulations, by defining paper as an “essential supplier”.

Any shortfall is temporary, says the UK’s Confederation of Paper Industries. It says that 50% of 1.25 million tonnes consumed each year is produced by 17 UK mills and that only 2% of this comes from Chinese imports. It says: “Coronavirus has no impact (or likely impact) on the actual demand for toilet tissue and it follows there is no need to panic buy or stockpile. Manufacturing and distribution continue to operate normally, and retail stocks are being replenished.”

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Fedrigoni remains in business

Fedrigoni remains in business

Fedrigoni, along with other Italian papermakers, has been declared an essential business so avoids the general shutdown in Italy, affirmed by the government last week. This should set the pattern for other governments across Europe.

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