Covid-19 has changed the world we live in, and that’s probably an understatement. Not only have we seen the worst economic downturn in centuries, but most tragically of all, tens of thousands of people across the UK have lost their lives as a result of the virus.
2020 has been a tough year for everyone, with months of prolonged lockdowns and social distancing rules forcing many thousands of businesses to close and many more employees out of a job. As with all industries in the United Kingdom (and indeed worldwide), the packaging industry has dealt with its own share of hardship directly brought about by covid-19.
But as the first covid-19 vaccinations begin to take place, there is hope that this could be the beginning of the end of the pandemic. In this article, our packaging team explores how their industry has been affected by the impact of covid-19, and how they have risen to the challenges of the ‘new normal’ and are preparing for the future.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PACKAGING INDUSTRY
We don’t often take too much time to think about the important role that the average packaging company plays in the economy, let alone our daily lives. But that packaging company holds an integral place in the worldwide supply chain.
To get your food safely into the supermarket, it needs to be shipped in protective packaging. To get your mobile phone, laptop, or television to your home, it needs protective packaging.
To get medical supplies, personal protective equipment and vaccinations to hospitals, you need protective packaging.
THE CHALLENGES FACED BY THE PACKAGING INDUSTRY DURING COVID-19
The essential role played by a packaging company in the supply chain became readily apparent when covid-19 began disrupting those supply chains. At the same time however, the demand for protective packaging increased as the world moved online, became more remote, and required more protective packaging to ship goods and products. (How many more products have you ordered from Amazon and other online retailers since the pandemic began?)
Packaging companies needed to rise to the challenge of increased demand, while dealing with a shortfall of resources and disruptions in the supply chain. Many of the UK’s most important industries relied on it, as PPE needed to be safely delivered during the pandemic, supermarket shelves needed to stay fully stocked, and important industries from tech to construction needed supplying.
However, covid-19 forced many parts of the supply chain to close down overnight, either through business closures, lockdowns or the need for workers to self-isolate after testing positive for the virus. The recycling industry, which supplies the materials for plastic and cardboard packaging, was severely disrupted.
Packaging companies also had to introduce their own social distancing measures to stay covid-safe during the pandemic, as well as investing in PPE for their staff and allowing employees to self-isolate where necessary.
Companies lost clients, as many businesses went on furlough or closed their doors forever. Planning for the future and planning for an as-yet-unknown demand became almost impossible.
ITP PACKAGING AND THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC
But while the challenges were there (and in many cases, these challenges arose overnight!), many packaging companies, including ITP Packaging, have been successful in meeting those challenges head-on.
Given that ITP Packaging supplies essential packaging products to the medical, chemical and food industries in the UK, we needed to pivot, shore up our supply chains and ensure that we could meet the new demands of our clients.
ITP Packaging introduced social distancing measures in the workplace and, where possible, allowed employees to work from home. Only essential staff remained on the warehouse floor shifting packaging products, taking shipments and making deliveries.
To ensure that new online demands for orders could be met and processed, ITP Packaging invested heavily in computer software, hardware and online resources. More businesses in need of protective packaging found that they could order easily through the website and conduct business with us remotely.
While some clients were unfortunately lost due to the effects of covid-19, ITP Packaging has successfully pivoted to take on new clients across new industries, ensuring that those businesses with increased demand for protective packaging have a supplier they can trust, despite the pandemic.
THE FUTURE OF THE PACKAGING INDUSTRY
The packaging industry has proven to be robust throughout the pandemic, but the impact of covid-19 hasn’t been easy to overcome. Packaging companies have had to invest heavily in new technology and software to make the switch to online work and online business.
For businesses, this trend is only going to continue, and trade within the industry will continue to take place remotely and online. Even when the pandemic is over, we know that a digital set-up is going to be more important than ever before.
All of this also means there is going to be an increased demand for protective packaging, as fewer shops and retailers sell in person and more businesses than before begin shipping products that need protection while in storage and transit.
But the pandemic is far from over, and protective packaging is still in need across the country to keep our supermarkets full and to ensure that PPE can continue to reach hospitals and vaccines for the virus can be safely moved to distribution centres. The work is far from over but, at least for now, there is definitely a future for the packaging industry.
CONTACT ITP PACKAGING FOR MORE INFORMATION
As a leading packaging company, ITP Packaging is operating safely (and socially distanced) through the pandemic. We continue to stock a comprehensive range of storage products, from cardboard boxes to steel drums, designed to meet industrial needs.
Our expert staff are happy to provide further information on packaging products, so contact ITP Packaging today to find out more.