How does the Packers of Ukraine Association work during the war?
The Ukrainian Association of Club Packagers was founded in 1997. We unit manufacturers of packaging materials, packaging, equipment and universities. None of us wanted to believe that кussia would attack our country and start such a brutal war that the кussians would kill our women, children, the elderly. None of us is ready to work in such conditions. We spent the first week after beginning the war reforming the Club. At the invitation of our colleagues from the Polish Packaging Chamber, we moved the Club's office to Poznan. Other workers moved to other countries who remained in Ukraine, but in a safer place. We keep touch in constant contact between ourselves and Ukrainian packaging companies and help them solve various problems. We look for materials, spare parts for equipment in Europe and send them to Ukraine. Thank you our colleagues from Packaging Europe and we have opportunity to place free advertising offers of Ukrainian companies on their website. We do not forget about our projects. We prepared the second issue of the magazine "Packaging" this year, and thank you our colleagues from the Netherlands Packaging Center published it and we have them in this exhibition. We are preparing all-Ukrainian competition for the best packaging "Ukrainian Packaging Star 2022". A lot of entries we got before the war, but they stay in Kyjiv. Also we do not forget about volunteering. On requests from Ukraine, we search, buy different things: cars, walkie-talkie, night vision devices, clothes and shoes and other things.
Can you assess the impact of the war on the work of packaging companies and the availability of qualified specialists in Ukraine now and in the future?
The war had a very strong impact on Ukrainian business. 85% of Ukrainian enterprises stopped or worked partially. According to the Ukrpapir association, out of 39 enterprises in the industry, 23 stopped production. The Rubizhne cardboard and packaging plant and the Ukrainian enterprise of the Dunapak concern near Kherson were destroyed. One of the most powerful glass packaging plants Vetropak Gostomel glass factory - destroyed, the enterprise of the Verallia group near Rivne - stopped. The Plast Box polymer packaging plant in Chernihiv - destroyed. Some manufacturers do not work because the workers went to war, or do not have raw materials, spare parts, energy. But we know that many packaging companies are working. They send packaging to manufacturers of food, medicine and other goods. Even in Kharkiv, which is constantly bombed by russian army, FocTube polymer packaging companies and a powerful printing company, Vesna, have started operating.
Before the war, Ukrainian specialists were very qualified. This is known in many European countries where they work. Our colleague and friend of the director of the Foodservice Packaging Association in United Kingdom, Martin Kerch, initiated the creation of a site in the UK to connect Ukrainian packaging professionals with jobs in the UK. In Ukraine, more than 20 universities learn various packaging specialists - designers, technologs, mechanics, logisticians, printers. After our victory in the war, companies will need specialists in various packaging areas. Now Ukrainian universities once again teaching students online and we hope Ukraine will have a qualified specialist in the future.
How did you feel the support of the international packaging community?
Felt and very significant. We thank WPO, EPIC, national associations, our fellow packers from around the world for their support and help. And it's not just sympathy for our plight. In its resolution, EPIC condemned Russia's actions and called on the world's packaging companies to support Ukrainian packaging manufacturers and help rebuild their businesses after the war. The WPO is preparing to adopt its resolution at its May meeting in Milan condemning Russia's military action.
We actively cooperate with packaging associations of Poland, the Netherlands, Latvia and other countries. Our colleagues from the Netherlands Association start the project of Supporting Club Packagers of Ukraine.
Current conversations in the world of packaging are related to environmental friendliness, circularity, garbage, polymer waste, etc. How relevant are these topics in Ukraine in 2022?
These are really the main problems that concern the whole packaging world today. They are also actual in Ukraine. Annually we use 2.7-3.0 million tons of packaging from different materials. And the recycling of its waste is unfortunately still a problem. In Ukraine, there are sorting stations, recycling enterprises. Waste paper is used to make corrugated cardboard, cullet for glass bottles and cans. Unfortunately, today we do not have a waste management system based on producer responsibility. We only started to create such a system last year. Ukrainian packaging companies are trying to follow EU directives on this questions. After winning the war, we have to do such a system, using the experience of European colleagues.
What will be your top priority in your country when reconstru ction begins?
Of course, we are already thinking about how to rebuild our packaging industry after winning the war. First, we will need to make a complete analysis of the state of packaging companies. Identify which are destroyed and cannot be rebuilt, which can be repaired. It will be necessary to analyze each enterprise and make programs for their reconstruction. It will probably be necessary to make a general program of reconstruction, the implementation of which will require significant financial resources. The Club Packagers will take an active part in this. In addition, we will use all our information resources to make the results of such a program public. We also plan to continue all our projects for students and magisters with Ukrainian universities.
After the end of the war, how could the international packaging community structurally strengthen its ties with the Packagers' Club and Ukrainian business?
Yes, we have connections with packaging associations and we really need them. We will continue to develop them. Thank you Michael for the opportunity to talk about our association and activities here in the Netherlands and at the end of April at the Anuga exhibition in Cologne. I hope to have the opportunity to visit the WPO Board Meeting in Milan. All meetings and interviews are an opportunity to talk about the current state of the packaging industry in Ukraine and the cooperation with the packaging world that we need to rebuild Ukrainian packaging manufacturers. We thank all the organizations and our colleagues who already support and help us and hope to continue this very important cooperation for us.
I invite everyone to visit my favorite Ukraine after our victory to see everything with my own eyes.