The new European list of corrugated base papers

A document for producers and users of corrugated base papers.


The new European list of corrugated base papers, updated by CCB Cepi ContainerBoard (European list of corrugated base papers) has been published. This is the result of a 23-year-long experience and improvements linked to the study of corrugated base papers in relation to the expected performance in the production of corrugated base boxes.

An official reference document – for all types of European corrugated base papers, based on their identification, specifications and classification – available in English, German, French, Italian and Spanish and available for download from the following website:

Gilles Barreyre, of Cepi ContainerBoard, tells us the story, motivations and scenarios leading to the creation of the document. «In 1989, the European association of the containerboard producers decided to implement a paper reel identification system via barcoding, for the reels delivered to their clients. On the barcode printed on the codified labels, producers like customers decided that the type of paper constituting the reel would appear. Then, this European association, ancestor of Cepi Containerboard, launched an inventory of the papers produced in Europe and it soon became clear that most countries had their habits for naming the papers and that a same paper could have in Europe many different names but, also, that the same name could correspond to different case materials. This census work was therefore accompanied by an inventory of the technical specifications of the papers in order to give the same name to the same paper and, from there, the same identification number in the barcoding system. The first result of this work was published in 1992 and it remains unique in the world in this field. From the start, this identification work from the paper producers interested the converters for the possible automatically management of their stocks, but also because it clarified the functioning of the European market, which had been widely opened with the entry of Spain and Portugal in 1986, and that would enlarge again with the announced arrival of the Scandinavian countries and Austria in 1995.»

Gilles Barreyre, Cepi ContainerBoard.
Gilles Barreyre, Cepi ContainerBoard.

Target audience and stakeholders sharing the reference document

As Michele Bianchi of DS Smith puts it, this is a reference document drafted within the framework of the CCB and shared in its parts with Fefco: «Over the years the collaboration with CCB and Fefco was characterized by ups and downs, however activities have resumed lately with joint study groups and groups sharing specific problems, e.g. the identification of reels, their finish and the convertibility inside corrugators. It is important that associations are involved in the first place to close ranks and stand shoulder to shoulder to agree on the real demand and supply», states Mr Bianchi, «in order to provide producers and users are clear reference with the overall aim of increased satisfaction of all the parties involved: producers can classify paper based on its technical characteristics, while users can control the supply and in case of deviations start a adequate discussion to make the necessary corrections and economic impact assessments».

Michele Bianchi, Paper Sourcing Managing Director, DS Smith | Paper Sourcing.
Michele Bianchi, Paper Sourcing Managing Director, DS Smith | Paper Sourcing.

A document following the evolution of the market

The aim of the document is to showcase the technical offer of corrugated base papers currently available in Europe, therefore the recurrent updatings of the Grade List correspond to the evolution of the market, as Mr Barreyre states. As Mr Bianchi puts it, product development, the continuous evolution of box engineering, process technology and innovation lead to a constant modification of demand and supply: «Lightweight papers and, as a consequence, manufacturing technologies have dramatically evolved over the last few years pushed by the constant weight reduction, to limit the environmental impact of packagings, as well as by a reduction in costs and an optimization of margins. This has made some of the methods for the measurement of paper performance no longer topical and made revisions and updates to become increasingly necessary. The very same corrugators had to modify the conversion process to use these new papers. This shows that the supply chain has to adapt the language and measurements to this continuous evolution. Today we process coat weights up to 70 grams or even lower, when only 15 years ago papers below 110 g were considered lightweight».

When lightweight e kraft-top papers were born

Gilles Barreyr gives some more examples: «Between the end of the 90es and the beginning of the year 2000, the lightweight papers appeared on the market. The list of grades was updated to take into account these major evolutions, with the definition of these grades and, accordingly, a modification of the numbering system of grades. More recently, the practices on the European market showed that the lightweight liners were less and less sold as such but more and more as lightweight Testliner 3. To maintain the list in accordance with the market, the Technical Committee of Cepi ContainerBoard decided to remove the category «lightweight liner». Another example, the «kraft-top» papers: «during the last years, the “kraft-top” papers appeared on the market, in so far this segment became consequent enough in volume, the Technical Committee gave a definition of this grade, and allocated an identification number. As a consequence, everybody (clients and suppliers) speak now the same language regarding this grade».

An update that is expected to continue

A document that is intended to serve as a «guideline» needs to be constantly reviewed and updated to become a reference and communication work between producers and users of corrugated base papers, as Mr. Bianchi explains. Hence it does not represent the whole offer, which is in fact constantly evolving. Barreyre agrees on the fact that «In the future this constant updating work will continue, but the next ‘important’ area of work will be the evolution of the identification system which, after 25 years of utilisation, shows some limits to describe in addition to the name, the technical characteristics of the containerboard».

The major changes from the existing «list of grades»

  • A Cobb reference is introduced for Brown Kraftliner
  • The recycled light weight liner category has been removed
  • Testliner 3 property requirements have been modified as a consequence of the removal of the light weight liner grades
  • A Testliner 4 grade has been introduced
  • The Cobb references for Testliner 1, 2 and 3 have been modified with the introduction of three sizing levels «un-sized, sized and special sized (to fulfil UN regulation concerning dangerous goods)
  • A Brown and a White Kraft Topliner have been introduced
  • Two sub-categories of high performance recycled fluting have been introduced
  • Due to limitations in measuring CMT30 on light fluting substances, the figures are only mentioned as indicative and not guaranteed


About Cepi Containerboard

CCB’s principal objective is to promote the business interests of members:

being a co-operation body for internal exchange of information on matters pertinent to the industry

being an external mouthpiece vis-Ă -vis other trade associations and international organizations in matters relating to industrial policy, industry statistics etc.

To achieve this goal CCB shall:

  1. Collect, prepare and disseminate basic statistics on production, shipments, inventories, etc;
    2. Execute market research and studies on economic forecasts, capacity development, supply and demand balance, etc;
  2. Co-ordinate the position of the industry and monitor work in other trade associations concerning technical-commercial issues such as life cycle analysis, standardisation, quality definitions, bar coding and electronic data interchange;
  3. Maintain contacts and statistical exchange with national and international organisations such as FAO, CEPI, Fefco, American Forest and Paper Association and Canadian Pulp and Paper Association.
  4. Serve as a centre of communication for industry information relating to e.g. environmental issues and packaging legislation;
  5. Constitute a meeting forum for matters of common business interest.