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Delving into speciality paper with PG Paper

We catch up with Lyndsey James-Williams, commercial director of global paper and packaging company, PG Paper about all things speciality paper from what’s new, to environmental considerations and greenwashing

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We speak to Lyndsey James-Williams from PG Paper which is exhibiting at this year's Print Show

Could you introduce your company and its role/work in the speciality paper market?

PG Paper is a global, award-winning company, creating markets and providing supply solutions for paper and packaging products worldwide. Based in the UK, we work across a number of category areas including pulp, paper, and board grades; as well as a range of speciality fibre-based grades. We work closely with our international mill partners to deliver global representation, offering a ‘one-stop’ shop for our customers, sourcing a vast range of both coated and uncoated fibre-based products.

What are some of the possibilities printers and creatives agencies can think about when choosing speciality paper?

There are a host of possibilities to think about when choosing specialty paper – texture, finish, shade, functionality – for brands the choice of paper can contribute to the storytelling aspect of design and ensure the impact of the finished product. 

Now, more than ever, there are global options at our fingertips. Of course, as well as the visual and tactile aspects, the printing (or conversion) process is an important decision that should be made at the beginning. 

The environmental accreditations should also be considered to identify the most sustainable material fit for use as well as any constructional formats which may be necessary. The environment of the destination is something to be mindful of and a lifecycle analysis of the waste stream should be conducted to ensure a sustainable decision is made.

What new innovations and products are coming out in this sector?  

We are witnessing exciting new innovations and products across the industry. Manufacturers are developing lighter-weight finished materials, increasing efficiency and reducing environmental impact. There’s also a lot of focus on developing more sustainable backing papers and looking at different ways to decrease the usage of materials that are difficult to recycle. Research into fibre-sourced materials such as bamboo and sugar beet to replace traditional materials is also coming to the forefront.

How does speciality paper fare from a sustainability point of view compared to other paper options?

The majority of speciality papers still originate from sustainable sources such as PEFC and FSC plantations, however, elements of component parts of the material are often subject to further review. As papers are required to meet REACH guidelines as part of their manufacturing process, further developments are being made in creating more efficient and sustainable solutions.

PG Paper Head Office in Greenock

What are the biggest challenges facing paper merchants in 2023?

Merchants across the industry continue to face issues moving stock that they still hold from the volume drops in 2022 and market reports project these effects to end or stop for the remainder of 2023. 
Energy prices continue to be the main source of costing issues across the market, with a considerable number of printing businesses being forced to shut down operations as a consequence of mounting debts stemming from these challenges. Additionally, there are less mill groups to partner with and greater cross-over in material grades. 
Do you think end-users are starting to see the environmental benefits of paper more?

I think there remains a significant amount of ‘greenwash’ in the market and end-users are certainly more informed when it comes to the sustainable credentials of paper. Buyers now possess the ability to conduct diligent sustainability audits of both the supplier and their products in a very informative way. There is no doubt that challenges remain apparent in the industry, however, I think both producers and the market as a whole are becoming more transparent.

How can printers best invest in paper products and stocks as costs change?

The best way printers can do this is by adopting a more flexible approach, working with the added value of products rather than assuming the status quo. Products are forever changing and it’s always good to refresh your outlook and work with clearer objectives around your sustainable purchasing and quality type. Printers should seek to become more innovative and be open to new opportunities. In a contractual circumstance, printers should forecast and re-forecast more regularly and in conjunction with the supplier to optimise the supply chain.

Anything else to add?

This industry is experiencing growth driven by technological advancements, changing consumer preferences, and a greater focus on sustainability. The possibilities within the specialty paper market are vast and continually evolving, offering creative agencies, printers, and businesses numerous opportunities to innovate and cater to diverse consumer needs – it’s an exciting time and we look forward to playing our role in the supply chain.

If you’d like to share news or opinions with us feel free to email at news@printmonthly.co.uk or join in with the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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