Gap Widened Between EU and U.S. Corrugated Basis Weights

Twenty percent heavier basis weights in U.S. versus Europe

BRUSSELS, April 19 /PRNewswire/ — Packaging trends in Europe are compared with the U.S. since they occupy similar geographic areas, have similar climates and topographical features, and their containerboard companies supply many of the same global food, beverage and consumer goods companies.  However, average basis weights of corrugated are now 20% lighter in Europe than the U.S., as shown in the new study published today by RISI, The Future of Lightweight Containerboard in North America.  This reflects a proactive cultural change in Europe, with sustainability high on the agenda and government environmental initiatives with targets and penalties for non-compliance implemented across the supply chain, and supported by trade groups and NGOs.

Author of the study and industry expert Sarilee Norton says, “A critical look at the geographic factors, the fiber considerations and the supply chain drivers that distinguish Europe from North America are not different enough to continue to explain a 20% differential in average basis weights.  Sustainability, packaging efficiency and cost savings are vitally important considerations to North American corrugated users as well as those in Europe.”

Since 2000 only three new machines have been built in North America, compared with thirty-two in Europe.  Modern machines, or conversions of existing machines, can produce extra-lightweight containerboard (under 26#) more quickly and economically.  Many corrugators currently operating in North America are fully capable of running extra-lightweight constructions, and an analysis of current North American and European containerboard machine capabilities is included in the study.  The evolution of ‘lightweighting’, including the technology developments of board machines, corrugators and converting capabilities, provides the containerboard producer and converter perspectives in the study, alongside what the trend towards lighter basis weights means for end-users.

The containerboard market is customer-driven and with the largest global retailer, Walmart aiming to reduce five percent of packaging across its supply chain by 2013, the report anticipates that the ‘lightweighting’ trend will continue, providing an opportunity for corrugators that invest in modern machines that offer the speed, quality and versatility needed, to help their customers realise their packaging strategies.

The Future of Lightweight Containerboard in North America provides a detailed analysis of the trend towards ‘lightweighting’, a history of corrugated, and capacity forecasts of the North American Containerboard market until 2014.

More information, including the table of contents for the study can be found here.

For additional information, please contact:
In North America: Sara Girtz at +1 770.373.3001 – or Natalie Rotondi at +1 781.734.8963 –
In Europe: Tea Tuuli at +32.2.536.0743 – or Greg Ardoullie at +32.2.536.0753 –
In Asia: Levi Li at +86.139.1714.6037 –
In Latin America: Luis Sucupira at +55.11.3848.9051

About RISI

RISI is the leading information provider for the global forest products industry. The company works with clients in the pulp and paper, wood products, timber, tissue, nonwovens, printing and publishing industries to help them make better decisions.

Headquartered in Boston (Bedford), Massachusetts, RISI operates offices in Brussels, Belgium; Helsinki, Finland; Atlanta, Georgia; San Francisco, California; Portland, Oregon; Charlottesville, Virginia; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Shanghai, China and Singapore. More information can be found at

Nichola Heer
Marketing Manager, Forecasts & Analysis, RISI
326 Avenue Louise, Bte 22
1050 Brussels


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