«Stop! »: here comes the warning by Cepi, the European paper industry confederation that calls on the EU policy to block the cost increase of regulatory compliance for the next two years, «the Italian paper industry is experiencing a phase of deep production reorganization. Between 2007 and 2012 26 production sites have closed and nearly 3,000 direct jobs have been lost, «said Paolo Culicchi, president at Assocarta, during the Assembly of the Italian paper Association that took place last June in Rome (Italy).» But if we consider the importance of the sector for the entire paper manufacturing industry, employment lost about 40,000 units in the last five years.
In 2012 the Italian paper industry produced 8.6 million tons of paper and cardboard resulting in 6.8 billion Euros turnover, representing respectively 5% and 7% drop compared to 2011. «In brief», explains Culicchi «from 2007 to 2012 we lost over a million and a half tons of produced volumes while export volumes in 2012 were 3.6 million tons of paper and cardboard 70% of which destined to UE27 countries (more than 42% total production) by registering +0.2% compared to 2011».
«A competitive sector is now that of energy cost which is the first production item», says Culicchi, «consider that the index that defines businesses with high energy consumption in Italy (ratio between acquisition costs of energy products and turnover for the purposes of value added tax) varies from minimum 20% up to 50% for some productive sectors. Moreover the ratio between energy cost and added value as they do in Germany for a paper mill is over 100%. The future of the industry largely depends on the reduction in energy cost».
«But competitiveness is also played on other fronts such as paper for pulping – whose consumption in 2012 has been around 4.6 million tons (-8.1% compared to 2011)», adds Culicchi, «because our country, such as France and Spain, needs to bet on proximity recycling for waste paper collected in the national territory and it needs to introduce an export monitoring system in line with community decisions and directives on Recycling Society». National waste collection has been more than 6.2 million tons, with 1.4% scaling. However compared to lower internal collection, the volumes of pulp directed abroad mainly in China continued growing (+11.2%) reaching 1.9 million tons.
«Finally, Ets system is the central issue as it involves also in Italy the activation of compensatory measures of indirect costs for paper sector, as provided by recent Community guidelines, by means of funds resulting from auctions of emission rights. It is important to reject further initiatives on backloading. Or better yet», says Culicchi, «it would be like exceeding Ets system with a European initiative that actually pushes investment and innovation across the industry. A joint action that applies at European level on energy issues: just think of the shale-gas factor which causes gas cost for European companies to be 241% higher than the USA, according to Commissioner Oettinger himself», concludes Culicchi.