Packagers Push for "Essential" Business Designation Amid COVID-19

FPA and manufacturers of corrugated cardboard boxes encourage federal, state and local governments to distinguish them as essential business operations.

Waste360 Staff, Staff

March 26, 2020

4 Min Read
Packagers Push for "Essential" Business Designation Amid COVID-19

The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) issued letters to the White House, all governors and Capitol Hill leadership with regard to the need for essential packaging manufacturing during this time of uncertainty, particularly food insecurity and access to pharmaceutical and medical supplies. The letters also highlight the need for clarity with respect to federal, state and local government proclamations distinguishing “essential” business operations from mass population event limitations.

In addition, the manufacturers of corrugated cardboard boxes are working to keep transport packaging flowing to makers of essential products including packaging for food and other consumer products, medical and pharmaceutical products, tissue and hygiene products and more amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flexible packaging protects products that consumers use every day—including hermetically sealed food and beverage products such as cereal, bread, frozen meals, infant formula and juice, as well as sterile health and beauty items and pharmaceuticals such as aspirin, shampoo, feminine hygiene products and disinfecting wipes. Even packaging for pet food uses flexible packaging to deliver fresh and healthy meals to a variety of animals.

Flexible packaging also is used for medical device packaging to ensure that the products packaged, diagnostic tests, IV solutions and sets, syringes, catheters, intubation tubes, isolation gowns and other personal protective equipment maintain their sterility and efficacy at the time of use. Trash and medical waste receptacles use can liners to manage business, institutional, medical and household waste. Carryout and takeout food containers and e-commerce delivery, which are increasingly important during this time, are also heavily supported by the flexible packaging industry. Thus, FPA said it and its members are vital to the supply chain when addressing the needs of U.S. consumers in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. 

“We have all seen the unprecedented lines at stores and the empty shelves as consumers attempt to provide for their families, with even the basics, such as protein, toilet paper and hand sanitizer, while heeding the various polices to stay at home and practice social distancing. We are also concerned about the need for increased production of medical protective supplies to our doctors, hospitals and first responders. Flexible packaging manufacturers stand ready to assist in closing these gaps and ensuring food and medical security as the country faces this crisis,” according to FPA.

In order to do so, FPA requests certain clarity with respect to state and local mandates.

“We ask that there be uniformity at the state and local levels in distinguishing bans on social gatherings and the closure of bars, gyms and museums from business operations,” stated FPA. “Employees should not be confused about whether or not they report to work based on a myriad of state and local limitations on public forums.”

“In addition, given that the supply chain can and will deliver the goods needed to restock shelves and keep consumers safe if allowed to do so, we request that consumer and pet food, health and beauty, pharmaceutical and medical device packaging be considered essential manufacturing and a critical infrastructure industry, as stated in the recently released ‘President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America.’ This, along with our supply chain partners in the food and health industries, such as food processors, transportation and distribution centers, retail establishments, e-commerce providers, restaurants and other indispensable parts of the supply chain, should be considered equally critical,” added FPA.

The manufacturers of corrugated cardboard boxes are also working to keep transport packaging flowing to makers of essential products amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Corrugated cardboard packaging is the backbone of the American supply chain,” said Fibre Box Association President and CEO Dennis Colley in a statement. “As COVID-19 changes our daily lives, we want to assure consumers that the box industry is continuing to operate and to deliver needed packaging to our customers who supply grocery stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices and hospitals with food and medical supplies to keep us all healthy and safe.”

Disruption in the availability of these goods would cause significant hardships to consumers across the country who depend on steady and stable supplies. Corrugated cardboard manufacturers are dedicated to continuing to operate box plants under the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to ensure products continue to flow to market. 

Fibre Box Association joins American Forest & Paper Association in encouraging federal, state and local governments to recognize the corrugated packaging industry as “essential” when drafting “shelter in place” orders.

“We are grateful for the dedication and commitment of all people working in the corrugated packaging industry,” added Colley.

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