The print industry has been beset by an uncertainty that’s gripped the international economy this year. From Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to supply disruption, there’s been a great deal of uncertainty.
The energy crisis has had a huge impact on the global economy and has hit particularly hard here in the UK, which has forced the government to step in with a support package designed to help businesses with their energy bills.
In this blog we’ll examine what the current energy crisis means for an industry that had previously been grappling with supply chain pressures.
We’ll also examine the government’s support package and outline the steps we’re taking here at Technoprint to mitigate the impact of rising energy costs.
A challenging year
The year 2022 has proved to be a challenging year for the printing industry so far. Supply issues have hampered the industry which was exacerbated by the historic strike at UPM’s Finnish paper mills, a strike that lasted throughout the first quarter of the year and severely impacted businesses across Europe.
We looked at the consequences of this unprecedented strike in a previous blog, earlier this year.
Some businesses had been left unable to meet demand due to the chronic shortage of paper in Europe and the resulting high costs but overall, the industry has been able to adapt to cope with supply pressures.
However, with energy prices now sky high, the industry has a new challenge on its hands.
The government’s energy package
The war in Ukraine has pushed energy prices up as Vladimir Putin restricted the supply of gas to Europe in response to the sanctions imposed on Russia in the wake of the invasion.
While the government has been looking at alternative power sources in the UK for the last two years to reduce dependency on one type of energy, Putin’s move has meant that they’ve had to speed up the process of doing so.
With current energy supplies restricted, businesses and households have seen their bills sky rocket, which has forced the government’s hand.
The government announced in late September that businesses across the UK would have their energy bills cut in half under a support package that will see gas and electricity prices fixed for six months.
There is also an option to extend the support for businesses who are considered vulnerable, for an extra three months. As well as providing financial relief for businesses, it’s hoped that the energy plan will reduce inflation and boost economic growth.
Energy and the paper industry
While the government’s package has been welcomed by business leaders in the UK, there are concerns about the limited nature of the support.
It’s likely that the period of high energy will last beyond the six-month window of support so many in the paper industry such as Andrew Large, the director general of the Confederation of Paper Industries, have called for further support to ensure that there is a long-term solution to this problem.
The invasion of Ukraine has already prompted many businesses within the industry to adapt their practices to remain competitive with one German papermaker switching from gas to light heating oil but at a significant cost.
The inflated price of energy has naturally pushed up costs of production and these costs are having to be passed on to customers or production, itself, is scaled back.
In August, Smurfit Kappa cut production by between 30,000 and 50,000 tonnes as they felt it was non-sensical produce high quantities of stock, that may not be used amid the current economic situation.
Energy has added to the already high surcharge on the price of paper, so adaptation is currently a necessity.
How Technoprint is adapting to meet the energy challenge
At Technoprint, we’re always looking at ways in which we can reduce our energy consumption to operate in a more sustainable and cost-effective way.
Over the last few years, we’ve taken steps towards minimising our consumption and carbon footprint here at Technoprint HQ which was recognised through the gold EcoVadis rating we received in 2021.
This year we’ve introduced a new recyclable paper parcel tape to seal boxes and moved away from plastic bottles to use recyclable jugs instead which are small but important steps in helping us to improve our sustainability.
Additionally, to further minimise our use of plastic, Technoprint is now a bubble-wrap free environment.
We’ve also looked to reduce our energy consumption by limiting our use of air-conditioning in the office and on the warehouse floor.
Altering our temperature conditions has been a challenge as our paper has to be kept at a certain temperature but we’ve found that we can still reduce air conditioning use without affecting the paper by strategically adjusting heat settings in certain areas of the site.
High energy prices pose a challenge but Technoprint is versatile and adaptable so we can assure our customers will still receive the same high-quality products.