The packaging industry is systemically relevant. That’s often forgotten, especially by itself


The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is plunging the world into an existential emergency. Especially in times of crisis such as these, the central importance of packaging in ensuring a reliable supply of food, hygiene products and medicines to the population becomes apparent. Because no good reaches its user or consumer without packaging

The basic requirement for the systemically-relevant performance of the packaging industry is that the required raw materials and packaging materials are available and can be delivered in sufficient quantities.

However, the current situation at the borders poses great challenges for international supply chains. Sluggish customs clearance ensures long traffic jams of trucks with urgently needed materials. This threatens the efficiency of the industry and thus the security of supply for the population and the medical infrastructure.

The situation could even worsen if, in the context of pandemic defence, plant closures and work bans are imposed on companies in the packaging industry.

An important reason for this state of affairs is that the companies in the industry have not immediately been covered by the regulations on critical infrastructure and accordingly have not immediately been prioritized in the border management plans of the national states and the EU.

The lack of immediate prioritisation of the packaging industry and its recognition as a systemically important industry is obviously a failure. However, it would be too short-sighted to blame this omission primarily on politics. It’s rather the packaging industry itself that has been failing here for years.

We’ve not managed to make our systemic importance clear. Instead of positioning itself as a systemically-relevant industry and making its own importance not only for food safety but also for hygiene and security of supply clear, the industry is losing itself in island thinking and skirmishes between the material groups. Instead of speaking with a united voice, we still far too often cultivate a cacophonous chorus of – mostly short-term – individual interests.

The current situation is a slap in the face for the industry. It’s self-inflicted and one can only hope that the pain will promote learning. We must act together. And we must live up to our responsibility. Because packaging and the services of the packaging industry are of critical relevance – even more so in times of crisis than they already are.

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