Industry Update and Future Outlook
As each Province patiently waits for positive signs of recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic, we here in Ontario do all that we can to adapt and ensure that essential businesses/services continue to remain open. With that being said many of us are still working from home where online shopping seems to be the new standard. Provincial Legislatures have been proactively loosening red tape and other barriers to entry which previously prevented businesses from utilizing e-commerce as a viable revenue stream. In July for example the AGCO passed legislation which laid the groundwork for Brewers and Distillers to begin selling their product online .(*1) E-commerce on its own has played a monumental role in heightening demand for corrugated board and other paperboard products. In the short-to-long term we forecast a positive growth in demand perpetuated through the widespread adoption of e-commerce. In October, Federal Legislators in Ottawa submitted a plan to ban several single use plastic items.(*2) When this plan is put into motion next year it will certainly play another factor in compounding the growth in demand for recycled paper products.
Putting E-Commerce Growth into Perspective :
Historically the North American retail market has never experienced a year-over-year growth rate exceeding 10 percent, in contrast however e-commerce sales have maintained as much as a 25 percent year-over-year sales growth since 2015. Putting this into perspective, in 2015 Walmart reported an annual revenue 5.5 times greater than the renowned e-commerce giant Amazon, today, Walmart is reporting revenue of less than 1.8 times greater than that of Amazon.
In hindsight it is easy to forecast the growth of e-commerce. Back in 2016, Unilever acquired the subscription-based e-commerce company Dollar Shave Club for about $1 billion. Dollar Shave Club did not have a single brick and mortar retail store, their business model relies on e-commerce and of course; boxes to deliver their products to 3 million monthly subscribers. It is clear that the tides are turning in the favor of e-commerce, and not only domestically but globally. If you consider that in 2016 Alibaba was able to sell 100,000 cars (in China) online in just 24 hours, it will certainly add to the difficulty in forecasting the limits of online shopping behavior domestically here in Canada.(* 3)
Recycling is very important to the domestic supply chain of corrugated board. For this reason, it is important to understand that recycled paper has been in short supply across the industry stemming from the pandemic bottlenecking Ontario’s Blue Box recycling program. With that being said Planet Paper has been outpacing the industry and our competitors in order lead-times and we plan to enhance our efforts.
Looking toward the future we are hopeful that the newly proposed Blue Box Recycling Program will solve many of the problems that the recycled paper collection industry currently faces. On October 23rd, 2020, the Ontario Waste Management Association released a statement which explains the amendments made to the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act. You may find the document details below. The new plan is to shift complete responsibility (including financial responsibility) of the Blue Box Recycling Program to recycled packaging producers where it was formally managed by the Provincial Government. By 2026 Paper packaging producers in Ontario will be required to recover 90% of all converted paper packaging.(*4)
The new Blue Box Recycling Program is scheduled to begin in April 2021. This is definitely a contributing factor to the recent industry wide price increase. At Planet Paper we can only hope that the domestic supply of recycled paper continues to strengthen so that we can offer our customers the best possible service.
Planet Paper Box Group acknowledges its corporate social responsibility to uphold strict standards in hopes of promoting a positive recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic. Maintaining our safety protocols enacted in April, 2020, we will continue to ensure our ability to book extra production staff to and meet the newly heightened corrugated paper demand. We will also continue to outperform most of the market in lead times with our strategic network of domestic and international suppliers. As the situation continues to unfold before us, we will make sure that our lead times, customer service, and corporate social responsibility toward our community are held to the highest standard.
The Bottom Line :
Like so many things during these challenging COVID-19 times, it’s anybody’s guess what the overall demand for corrugated and paperboard will be and where pricing will go for these products. Sheeting plants (Corrugators) are at record low inventories and running on a hand to mouth basis on what they are receiving daily from the North American Mills. Our belief is that the impact of e-commerce companies, namely Amazon, are significantly attributing to the market shortages. Now that many other companies such as Walmart, Home Depot, Best Buy, and others have focused on their e-commerce divisions, it will only continue to exacerbate supply, until additional mill volume is created.
After consulting with several owners and operators from different paper mills, corrugators, and sheet converting operations, it looks like supply will remain extremely tight until at least March of 2021 and possibly longer. We are doing everything possible to ensure that our loyal customers remain with their required supply. This includes purchasing products from 5 different sources (including our own).
Currently we are not taking on any business from organizations that have approached us. Our organic clients base needs – completely satisfaction and full support before we allow additional volume to impact our normal supply.
We wish you and your families all the best during the fast approaching holiday season. Rest-assured that Planet Paper will continue to be a prime leader in corrugated paper, supply and service, while maintaining quality and competitive pricing. Our staff is available should you require any additional information. Thank you for your continued loyalty and patronage.
Planet Paper Box Group Inc.
1 – Information Bulletin: Changes to Liquor Delivery | Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (agco.ca)
2 – Canada one-step closer to zero plastic waste by 2030 – Canada.ca
3 – Alibaba sells a record 100,000 vehicles online in 24 hours | South China Morning Post (scmp.com)
4 – https://www.owma.org/articles/modernizing-ontarios-blue-box-program
OWMA Supports Ontario Government’s Approach to Modernization of the Blue Box Recycling Program
October 23, 2020
The Ontario Waste Management Association (OWMA) supports the Ontario government’s commitment, as announced on October 19, 2020, by the Minister of the Environment, Conservation & Parks, to strengthen the Blue Box recycling program and set some of the highest waste diversion targets in North America. Shifting the responsibility of the Blue Box to producers will create a catalyst to improve Ontario’s recycling performance. This is not only good for the environment, but also for the economy, and will encourage investment, job creation, and innovation in recycling and resource recovery sector.
Ontario can and should be doing much better when it comes to resource recovery. A Conference Board of Canada report found that with the right recycling policies Ontario can create 13,000 net new jobs and provide a boost to GDP of $1.5 billion. Considering the need for a post-pandemic economic recovery, transitioning the Blue Box program to producer responsibility offers significant potential to develop end markets for recycled materials here in Ontario.
Under a full producer responsibility model that sets accountability on an individual basis under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, a functioning open marketplace will result in competitive negotiations, lower costs, and innovation in the better end-of-life management of products. Fostering a supportive, open-for-business environment in Ontario will encourage an economic model where products are sold, consumed, collected, and re-made into new products here in our province.
Producer responsibility for the Blue Box program will support waste reduction, reuse, and recycling activities, and will save municipalities approximately $135 million in costs for the physical and financial requirements of waste management by providing a non-tax base funding for the programs. This new framework will also support efforts by producers and brand owners to improve product and packaging design to reduce waste.
For more information, contact:
Mike Chopowick, CEO at: firstname.lastname@example.org