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Kite blog

UK cardboard shortage explained

By Jake Kirk • Friday 26th March 2021

There have recently been some very well documented discussions in the media in respect to the impact of the global pandemic on the worldwide supply chain for materials and finished goods. In the UK this has been further affected by Brexit and the UK’s exit from Europe on 1st January 2021.

So, what does this mean for the UK packaging industry at a time when COVID has resulted in our high streets closing and there being a distinct shift in consumer spending habits?

The current experience in our sector, and in fact across many market sectors, is one where demand is massively outstripping supply. For manufacturers of cardboard, and consequently packaging distribution businesses around the country, the impact is being felt most in the shortage of materials used to produce corrugated boxes, a lack of manufacturing capacity and extended lead times.


Up until the start of the pandemic the UK cardboard market was a very efficient and finely balanced machine with most boxes being used and recycled back into new boxes within 14 days. This whole process relied on retailers collecting boxes at the back of stores and returning them for recycling. With the collapse in retail and the move to domestic delivery, a significant percentage of the cardboard is no longer available for recycling, either stuck in people’s garages or ending up in landfill along with other household waste.


With online spending experiencing records levels of growth in the last 12 months, at a time when cardboard is in short supply and lead times are extending; the challenges in our industry are being felt, but it is not all doom and gloom. Kite’s team are amongst the best in our industry. We are continually working together with our key suppliers and all our customers, working hard to mitigate and limit the impact of what is a global event.

Jake Kirk

Jake Kirk

26th March • 2021