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How the weather and recycling impact print prices

When the boss of packaging firm DS Smith said people storing cardboard boxes in their garages was leading to a shortage of the material there were a few raised eyebrows.


It seems the manufacturer was suggesting the increase in the nation’s online shopping habits during lockdown (some reports said online shopping had increased by more than one-third during 2020, the highest growth in 13 years) was contributing to a shortage of cardboard. And we all know that shortages of materials only do one thing to prices.


Is there really such a strong link between recycling rates and the price you pay for your print?


Well, yes. There’s only so much virgin material. Only so much manufacturing capacity (and this is being reduced as a number of plants are decommissioned). And for the last few years we’ve seen competition for the raw materials from other sources looking to “go green”.


Car manufacturers, for example, have been using paper pulp as insultation in car doors. It’s lighter and perceived to be more environmentally friendly than previous foam-based solutions. And what happens when demand increases? That’s right, prices go up again.


Two more reasons…


Getting our hands on the materials we need is another link in the chain which gets you your marketing materials. Our partners need to be able to have stocks of a wide variety of paper types and weights to be able to do the printing.


So, another gremlin in your print supply chain is the weather.


While recycled materials play a big part in creating the paper stock we need, they can’t fulfil that demand alone. In the UK, we recycle an estimated 80% of our paper. But despite these high recycling rates, we do still need virgin paper pulp made from trees.


We need sustainably-managed forests to maintain supplies for the paper industry. And the weather, including climate change, can have a big impact on how well and how fast trees in sustainably-managed forests can grow.


And the weather threw another curved ball at supply chains around the world in March 2021, when strong winds were blamed for what became an international shipping crisis.


While many giggled at the plight of the 400m-long Ever Given which got stuck in the Suez Canal in what felt like a plot from the latest Hollywood farce, many industries realised the true implications; delays to shipping mean delays (and therefore higher costs) for pretty much everything.


It took 11 days for the 400 ships delayed by the stricken Ever Green to pass through the canal. Insurance experts Lloyd’s List estimated that $9.6bn of trade was held up by the blockage. All of this impacts cost, as well as creating delays in the supply chain.


So while we normally talk about your print budget in terms of how many you want to produce, the weight of stock, and being smart about sizing to use paper efficiently, there are many more factors at play.


As a print management company, we can use our broad network of suppliers to look for the right options for your brief. We don’t have machines standing idle, waiting to be tasked with the next print job. We have the advantage of being able to access the entire market to get you the best quality at the best price.


When you’re ready to discuss your next print project, give our friendly team a call.

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