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Liner recycling reduces L’Oréal waste impact

L’Oreal has a commitment to zero waste to landfill

L’Oréal Australia, Avery Dennison and waste management expert Wasteflex are collaborating on a recycling program to deliver zero glassine liner waste to landfill.

Through this program, L’Oréal Australia will divert more than six tonnes of glassine paper liner in Australia into recycled paper for use in the recycled paper industry. The program is currently centered on the company’s biggest distribution center in Melbourne.

David O’Leary, national logistics manager at L’Oréal Australia, comments: ‘The savings from this program have been significant but the biggest benefit for L’Oréal Australia is being able to meet our zero waste to landfill commitments through the services and expertise of Wasteflex and Avery Dennison.’

For Avery Dennison the glassine liner recycling program is an important element in achieving one of the company’s ambitious 2025 Sustainability goals – to eliminate 70 percent of the waste from the pressure-sensitive label industry globally. Wasteflex is a waste ‘broker’, which brings together some 200 logistics partners servicing some 3,000 clients in Australia. Its role has been to consolidate the glassine liner waste from across Australia for shipment and recycling to take place.

Up to now liner waste has scored low on the sustainability priorities of most brands, but, as the L’Oreal case shows, attitudes to packaging waste in general are changing rapidly, particularly with the current focus on the elimination of single use plastics.

Marcel Cote, strategic marketing director for Avery Dennison South Asia Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa, says: ‘While most brand owners are focusing only on ways in which to recycle their primary packaging, we have taken a proactive step here and looked for like-minded companies to bring together. This has allowed us to get ahead of the curve in addressing label liner waste’.

Historically, glassine has presented the biggest recycling challenge because of the silicone coating. ‘Recyclers typically see it as a contaminant and are not prepared to accept it,’ says Cote. 

Even if recyclers could be persuaded to accept glassine, ‘The biggest single problem here is how to segregate the waste stream.’

Scaling up 
Avery Dennison has brought together a network of companies to collect waste and consolidate it in a critical mass which enables other partners to make economic use of it. In the case of L’Oréal the consolidated glassine liner waste is shipped to India Paper Mills through an Avery Dennison network where it is recycled into tissue paper for retail apparel and footwear packaging applications.

‘So, unlike other recycling options, we do not need to de-siliconize the liner,’ says Cote. ‘This is an ideal solution as it does not over-complicate the process and is scalable across the paper industry.’

‘While we continue to explore local glassine liner recycling solutions locally in Australia, we do believe this program achieves a more sustainable solution for brand owners than landfill,’ he continues. ‘Prior to this recycling program this glassine was dumped into local landfill. Now it gets shipped a long distance to be recycled, which raises the question, what’s better for our environment?’

Cote points out that this question was looked at ten years ago by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap) in the UK, which conducted a study comparing UK waste-to-landfill against shipping and recycling in China. Wrap found that a significant reduction in environmental impact was achieved with shipping and recycling overseas compared to landfilling locally, despite the additional freight component. Landfilling waste locally in the UK delivered less than one third of carbon emissions savings compared to recycling in China, which until recently was the recycling outlet for much of the world’s paper and plastic waste.

With China’s recent decision to shut its door to packaging waste from developed countries the demand for local liner waste recycling solutions has become all the more urgent.

‘China shutting its doors to accepting waste imports has actually been a good thing,’ says Cote. ‘We are now starting to see governments and industry groups introducing recycling legislation which is driving brand owners to act, actively investigating ways to more sustainably manage their liner waste.’

Cote says Avery Dennison has similar programs to L’Oréal running in India with large multinationals who have liner waste as a big focus – ‘Not yet because of legislation impacts, but typically to hit their own internal targets. This momentum across the region is important because critical mass is the key. The more volume we collect through this program the more financially viable the program becomes for our recycling partners.’

China impact
Mark Russell, general manager at Wasteflex Australia, says the overall cost of managing waste in Australia will continue to increase as the impact of China closing its doors is realized, coupled with increased costs in landfill, transport and associated costs. This is further highlighted by the introduction of a new EPA levy in Queensland in 2019. One driver for the introduction of this levy were the volumes of waste being transported from New South Wales into Queensland to avoid higher waste disposal costs. 

In pure economic terms, with the price of mixed waste continuing to increase per tonne, the liner recycling program is ‘better than cost neutral’ for L’Oréal, says Russell. ‘We anticipate as we roll the program out to bigger and smaller end users it will vary, but it should typically be cost neutral or better across Australia.’

Timing of waste collections is dependent on the volumes available and the commitment of brands to separate the waste, ‘to throw it into the right box. They shouldn’t add any mixed waste if we are to avoid it being sent to landfill.’

Looking at wider recycling issues, what has been the impact of Avery Dennison’s sustainability initiatives such as CleanFlake, which allows PS labels to be separated from PET containers? ‘We are starting to see an influx of enquiries across Australia thanks to the emerging Australian Plastic Recycling legislation that’s rolling out currently,’ says Marcel Cote. ‘While we’ve had this solution for many years it’s only now that brand owners are seriously seeking more sustainable label solutions which can improve the recyclability of their plastic packaging and meet the new regulations.’

Avery Dennison continues to grow its portfolio of sustainable ClearIntent products, including the increased use of recycled post-consumer paper and plastics, biodegradable and compostable materials and the development of recyclable technologies.

While paper accounts for 70 percent of liner waste in Australia, Avery Dennison is now actively developing filmic PET liner and matrix waste recycling programs to compliment similar recycling programs established in North America and Europe. ‘These present us with a different set of challenges,’ says Cote. ‘Matrix waste is typically a contaminated combination of various paper and filmic face stocks together with a range of adhesives, varnishes and inks, so waste-to-energy or waste-to-fuel are typically the most viable solutions available currently. With filmic liner recycling we are undertaking pilot trials through our industry network across the region with encouraging progress. The good news is the siliconized PET liner is fully recyclable into a range of secondary applications such as carpet fibers, insulation and a range of industrial uses.’


Andy Thomas is strategic director of Labels & Labeling.

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