There was a time when yesterday’s newspaper was recycled to wrap vegetables in the markets. Today, groceries are delivered to homes from cardboard, which is often recycled, and the French press lacks newsprint, which is unsustainable.
Thanks to the anticipation and accompanying digitization of the printing press, manufacturers of paper and cardboard have reduced their production capacity of newsprint to such an extent that in a few months there will be only one production machine left in operation in France.
Newsprint prices have risen: €400 per tonne in the first half of 2021, doubled in one year to €800 and more in April, according to the Alliance (Apig), which brings together 285 titles of the national daily press (PQN), regional weekly press (PQR) and regional ( PHR).
Paul-Antoine Lacour, general representative of Copacel, which brings companies together in the paper, cardboard and cellulose industries confirmed.
“Paper mills are turning to cardboard to supply Amazon. And the little ones, for which we can readjust orders, are shutting down, which means we have a real industrial problem of dependency in France,” notes Fabien Gay, director of the daily l’Humanité, and Senator for Seine Saint-Denis.
Paper makers, who are large consumers of gas and electricity, are simultaneously suffering from rising energy prices.
“We were 3% of our costs, now we are at 10%,” adds Mr. LaCour.
This phenomenon affects not only France.
All of Europe is affected, but Spain, Germany and Scandinavia retain newsprint production capacity.
Paper related readers
French newspapers, caught between their fixed costs (rotating, editorial, distribution network) and the increase in energy and paper, live the situation as a tragedy.
It’s hard to resist such an increase. It is likely that some titles in France will not survive, said Philippe Carly, president of the Ebra group, which brings together nine titles from the East, including L’Alsace, a Republican East and the latest news from Alsace.
According to confidential data obtained by AFP, an individual increase in the price of paper will weigh an additional 5-10 million euros in the accounts of groups such as Ibra, West France, Le Monde, Le Figaro or Sud Quest.
However, despite the increase in digitization, the French press, many of whose titles raised their selling price per issue at the beginning of the year, still consumes about 330,000 tons of paper per year, all titles combined, notes Pierre Petillo, director of “Alliance` ” .
Most fragile are the headlines of regional weekly newspapers, which are still sparsely digitized and whose readers are paper-bound.
Many newspapers reduce pagination, cut out sections, or don’t go out on public holidays.
Outermer, La Dépêche de Tahiti’s long-running newspaper, was placed under compulsory liquidation at the end of April.
The situation is very disturbing because some paper makers are taking advantage of the situation to raise the stakes.
“Previously, we had annual rates, now we negotiate rates on a quarterly basis, there are even provisions for papers that are given to the highest bidder,” adds a chief press officer who requested anonymity.
Another acute stress point is emerging: recycling, which is also increasingly moving towards cardboard packaging, which is in high demand by e-commerce.
From January 1, 2023, the Agec law against waste requires newspapers to actually pay their environmental contribution to Citeo, which regulates waste collection and recycling in France, rather than paying in kind in the form of public pages as has been the case until now.
“It’s crazy, we newspapers are going to directly help fund Amazon and others,” we’re excited about the alliance.
She asked for specific help from public authorities: “This cartoon is thriving on e-commerce, we understand that, but it is difficult to assess the contribution of e-commerce to democracy.”