However, it is the label material itself – especially self-adhesive – that generates the most material wastage.
Estimates indicate that some 60 percent of the self-adhesive material processed through a label converting plant ends up as waste, of which 35 percent is release liner waste.
In a recent study it was found that, on average, 17 percent of the laminate material that a label converter purchased was wasted during production – and that didn’t include matrix and edge trim waste. In other words, only 83 percent of what the converter purchased was actually saleable material to the end customer.
The material used to produce printed labels is highly valued upon delivery, and since it is 60 to 70 percent of a sale, it needs to be respectfully managed throughout the manufacturing process.
Even then, it is estimated that 80 percent of label industry waste is currently sent to landfill.
This neither seems sensible, sustainable, environmentally friendly or cost-effective. So let’s look at some of these areas and issues in more detail.
Firstly, in terms of the label substrate, the primary components related to material management and waste reduction that can be identified include:
Damage to rolls during shipping and handling
Unnecessary material stripped from the outside of rolls
Maximization of web space
Material left on the core
Material loss during down time associated with roll changes
Poor quality, defect material
Effective design and label LCA
Productivity is the key to curtailing this type of waste and improving the bottom line. Lean manufacturing tactics, its tools and measurements, are undoubtedly an ideal way to drive critical press uptime. 5S, Kaizen events, SMED set-up reduction, and error and mistake proofing improve quality and reduce defects, boosting employee morale, enhancing manufacturing flexibility and providing a safer work environment.
Waste directly equates to lost profit. Its causes can range from handling and storing to machinery maintenance, operator training and skills and changeover tactics.
In order to reduce solid waste, converters must first identify the causes and amounts of waste within their processes. In order to achieve zero waste to landfill, manufacturers must follow waste a step further and uncover new avenues for the material to be used more efficiently: reduced, recovered, recycled, upcycled or downcycled. This can be seen in Fig 5.1
Figure 5.1 - Steps in reducing labelstock waste to landfill
To understand what can be achieved by implementing a number or all of these waste reduction or production efficiency steps, we can take the example set by Walmart’s Printing and Mailing Distribution Center (PMDC).
Located near its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, the center was established to limit the amount of work that had to be outsourced. PMDC works as an independent post office for employee mail, prints business forms and store signs for locations throughout the US, and, within the 198,000 square feet of space, prints millions of thermal transfer labels for Walmart brand food packaging.
Needless to say, it has a variety of materials and waste streams that had to be diverted away from the landfill.
In 2005 PMDC’s quality department launched a campaign to promote a significant recycling program that would document improvements, waste reduction and volumes. Upper management was fully behind the program from the beginning, but left it to the recycling team to gain approval and employee buy-in from each department.
The team created a recycling table to find out what could be salvaged from the various waste streams. Paper and paperboard, non-paper substrates (films, laminates, etc), plastics, metal, wood and the product containers are all found inside a label plant. Some papers can be recycled in two grades – inked and non-inked – and can gain a better return.
Once the various streams were identified, a partnership was formed with local companies that can recycle each type of plant waste, and areas were designated for trash accumulation. ‘The key was to make it convenient,’ says Karen Eshleman, quality control manager and plant recycling leader. ‘We have an area for each department to appropriately categorize the waste it uses the most, and there is a plastic bottle recycle bin next to each employee’s desk.’ The volume of waste is tracked through a PMDC-designed recycle tag that allows the plant to trace what goes out in each package.
Once the use of the recycle tag was implemented and documentation began, it became clear that the label department produced a lot of labelstock waste, specifically matrix. To help solve this problem, PMDC invested in a bailer that is attached to a vacuum matrix waste remover. The stock runs automatically from the press to the bailer where it is emptied every 12 weeks, instead of every two weeks as before.
The recycle tag has two sheets – one for PMDC to hold and one for the recycler to file. As each box of waste is loaded on the truck, its exact location is tracked, so there is a reliable chain of custody. Eshleman says: ‘It is an important part of quality because it helps keep the building clean and efficient.’
‘We do it because it is the right thing to do and it makes the business run better,’ explains Marty Vavra, PMDC print products manager.
In 2007, PMDC recycled 1.3 tons of waste that had previously gone to landfill. It aims to reduce its waste ‘production’ to 1.1 tons by monitoring the production process. PMDC has already diverted nearly 95 percent of its waste from landfill by finding appropriate avenues for the various waste streams.
The question of sustainability is as important as price and quality. Walmart is asking the PMDC the same question it asks all of its suppliers: ‘Yes, we want quality; yes we want price; but what are you doing about sustainability?’
‘It is just as simple to do (recycling) as it is not to,’ says Vavra. ‘If you are already doing it, figure out how to do it better. Get together with your local recyclers and find out what else they can reuse. Or look at sourcing from other suppliers who have simple, innovative options. For instance, we are looking at coreless rolls of labelstock because it is a simple way to reduce paper usage. Go to your suppliers for support.’
Eshleman, Vavra and the PMDC quality control team took its lead in waste management from its thermal material supplier Ricoh Electronics, which has been zero waste to landfill since 2001.
Waste reduction, recycling and reuse needs to become second nature for a label converting business, with management and employees constantly working towards further reduction, improved production efficiency and, eventually, striving for zero landfill for all solid waste and an improved bottom line and profitability.
Some of the key stages and steps to achieving this are set-out in the text that follows.
SOLID WASTE REDUCTION
To truly curb packaging waste, from the onset labels must be designed for high LCA value, using as little material as possible and making the most of it with rapid registration systems, accurate color management and inspection systems, constant and precise die-cuts, and automated unwind, splicing and rewind systems.
The label must be constructed with the product’s container material taken into consideration; the package as a whole must be designed as compatible, avoiding contamination of recovery streams and maintaining maximum value. This is an opportunity to earn money, or help reverse logistics, or recovery, or to remain cost neutral.
In tandem with these actions it is essential that press production, warehouse, finishing, packing and dispatch employees are effectively trained in correct material handling, storage, equipment operation, cleaning and disposal so as to further minimize and dispose of waste correctly and efficiently.
These areas of solid waste reduction are examined in more detail below.
Lean manufacturing – Within every manufacturing process there are numerous areas that can be highlighted for environmental improvement, but nonetheless, in the process, are often overlooked. These wastes – defects, overproduction and inventory to name a few – are often a sign of inefficient production. This is where there is a real opportunity for cost savings.
The easiest way to begin the hunt for waste reduction opportunities is by taking a closer look at roll handling methods. Insist on greater care in handling and storage and enforce a clean workplace. It may be necessary to implement new practices to minimize waste during shipping, storing and handling and to consider investing in new, quality roll handling equipment.
Lean Six Sigma is the obvious platform to drive a Waste Management System. ELS methods can be used to continually improve product quality and business processes to reduce waste, increase operational efficiencies and drive environmental change. Since Lean is a process that is focused on the measurement of anything and everything, and has accountability imbedded within the system, it’s only natural to make sustainability a part of the lean manufacturing process. The required metrics dovetail nicely with process control and the organizational management structure is already in place.
Solid waste reduction is one of the key areas that SpearEarth, for example, tackles along with waste recycling. SpearEarth is about creating an engine. It’s armed with people that make it work, who know continuous improvement and how to place measurements around daily operations. Fifteen percent of the Spear work force is Green Belt trained.
Each year Spear conducts setup standardization and press uptime projects, yielding significant annual savings. Each operation has an active project queue and using Six Sigma as a guide, Spear achieved a two percent yield improvement in 2009, reducing process waste by an impressive 55 tons annually.
USE OF THINNER MATERIALS
Net weight reduction of both film and paper materials has become a mainstream demand in the label industry, initially because of cost reductions and increasingly thanks to sustainability directives. Thinner materials not only restrict the amount of solid material used in the manufacturing process, but also limit energy consumption, fitting more labels to a roll and therefore more per truckload.
The standard industry thickness for a clear-on-clear label is: 2.0mm BOPP facestock, 0.5mm adhesive and 1.0mm PET liner. Increasing numbers of converters are successfully producing quality labels on 17 percent-thinner 1.6mm facestock, with 0.4mm adhesive and 0.9mm liner.
ADOPTING EXACT PROGRAMS
Label converters can find significant cost savings by enrolling in supplier-based precise width programs where material is cut to best service a particular job. Programs such as these reduce off-cut, trim and matrix waste.
Spear cut 600,000 pounds of waste from its operations by using Avery Dennison’s Exact program. Educating customers on efficient design to fill the web space also played a role in this land fill avoidance. Some converters use off-cuts to produce saleable product on modern digital inkjet presses. Channeled Resources Group buys off-cuts for minimum costs, warehousing the material until it can be resold to another user.
Global label consumption is expected to reach 59 billion square meters by the end of 2012.
Spear successfully transitioned over 60 percent of its film customers to 17 percent thinner material, directly diverting 5m pounds of PS material from going to landfill, with potential to divert another 1.5m pounds once the rest of its client base switch. And, with further R&D in partnership with Avery Dennison, Spear is trailed a 1.0 mil, .3 mil, 75 mil material, which, it estimates, can eliminate 300 truckloads of material per annum.
The converter switched from 62# to 54# metalized paper labels for a net total 2m pounds of material weight salvaged from landfill. One hundred and twenty truckloads per annum were eliminated.
Unsurprisingly, the self-adhesive label industry has been rapidly searching for a definitive solution for the reduction, recovery and recyclability of label matrix and liner waste.
Linerless labels that do not use release liner material or a backing – have been researched, discussed and used in one form or another (Monoweb, DAS system, for example) in the industry since the 1980s as an advancement in pressure sensitive technology to reduce packaging waste by half immediately.
Some of the benefits of liner-free labels include:
Liner or backing paper waste eliminated, sustainable and cost reducing
Double the number of labels on a roll
Reduce transport and storage costs from increased quantity on rolls
Reduce down time for reel changes, less frequent and faster
Boost employee productivity
Increased press speeds with die-cutting off-line
Clear materials can be reverse printed, protecting the graphics
Linerless labels clearly demonstrate the ability to contribute to cost and environmental savings, with no adverse effect on production efficiencies or shelf appeal. Together, the subsequent success stories are compelling evidence that this pressure sensitive evolution is on the rise.
There are already a number of companies that offer linerless self-adhesive label systems for decorative and print-and-apply products. Essentially they are self-wound rolls of butt-cut/perforated rectangular labels (even limited shapes today) made by applying a silicone release coating on the printing surface and a hot-melt adhesive on the reverse side. The face side functions as the release surface when continuously wound.
Eliminating the liner effectively doubles the quantity of labels on each roll, which reduces reel changes and cuts down on transport costs. They also help reduce the risk of web breaks and problems associated with conventional webs during high-speed applications – and of course any label that does not have a release liner does not require landfill disposal, incineration or a recovery system.
While the technology historically has had limitations, 2011 has seen a number of successful steps forward towards introducing the capability on a wider scale to the North American and European markets. Some of these are outlined below.
Catchpoint, a UK company based near Leeds, offers a linerless system that uses patented ‘catch points’ to separate each label and micro-perforations to define the label’s format. Several license agreements have been negotiated with printer-applicator manufacturers in Europe and the USA. As its website (www.catchpointlabels.com) states, AEW Delford, Herma and Label-Aire have signed up as licensees to use the Catchpoint technology to produce rectangular and shaped labels and apply them on their applicators for both decorative and thermally-printed labels.
The company says the system gives a perfect cut-to-print register in the thermal printer without the need to engineer cutting devices into the applicator. The company announced a major technology breakthrough in May 2011. Working closely with founding licensee WS Packaging and applicator partner ILTI, linerless labeling speeds and accuracy levels can now meet the demanding targets required in FMCG markets.
This exciting new process will facilitate and contribute to the environmental targets of Global Packaging Initiative Partners without compromising the speed, accuracy and efficiency of their production lines.
WS Packaging plans to launch the full ILTI self-adhesive machine range into the USA, and is investing heavily in new production capacity to support the switch to Catchpoint labels. Customers are welcoming the opportunity to improve sustainability.
The innovative linerless labeling heads have been tested in high-speed rotary labelers developed by ILTI, based in Mantova, Italy, which is said to have one of the most experienced engineering teams for pressure sensitive labeling. The area is famous for a highly skilled work force with a creative and responsive supply chain.
This success has been supported by material and adhesive suppliers in a carefully planned project over 12 months. Catchpoint and its partners recognized the need to focus exclusively on these high-speed challenges to prove their technology and expertise. As a result, Catchpoint labels can now contribute to cost and environmental savings across a broad spectrum of applications. Indeed, creative brand managers can exploit the change to meet consumers’ demand for less packaging waste.
The breakthrough has also proved how close cooperation within a complex supply chain can deliver significant environmental benefits. Existing self-adhesive processes with a liner, which now account for over half of the overall label market, deliver convenience, but currently with over 50 percent material waste. The industry aim has been to reduce this waste.
The self-adhesive industry has been creative in tackling these challenges and has been introducing liner collection and recycling schemes; but strategically, Catchpoint’s technology will enable capacity, now making liners, to switch focus to improving the availability of face materials. To meet rapidly growing world label demand a key conclusion is obvious: reduce and eliminate the waste.
This successful multinational cooperation with Catchpoint has resulted in a high-quality linerless labeling process which is currently achieving over 350 bottles per minute (bpm), and looks set to go much higher.
Ravenwood Packaging a Chilled food packaging specialist, also in the UK, sells and distributes the Comac 500 coating machine. This machine is specifically designed to efficiently manufacture linerless labels and surreys to the correct specification required for Nobac applicators. The Comac machine would be used instead of a slitter rewinder. It coats the labels with silicone on the front and the adhesive on the back. It’s like a finishing machine that uses silicone as the coating.
Since 2004 the company has sold around 600 Nobac application machines, including the first Nobac 500 and second generation dual head application Nobac 500t. The machines are capable of reaching 150+ bpm for standard top label applications and up to 180 bpm for round bottles. It cuts and applies the linerless label in-line.
Innovia Films offers a material developed especially for these machines. The Nobac 500 sleever has been specifically developed for retailers and packers. It is an in-line machine, designed for maximum flexibility. It eliminates the need to turn packages and is capable of applying sleeves in five directions: top, top and side, top and two sides, C-wrap and full wrap. The Nobac 400V is focused entirely on C-wrap applications and can label irregular shaped packs like whole birds.
The company already has an impressive list of retailers that use the systems for meat packaging, including Texco, Asda, Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer.
In 2011 Hub Labels brought its long-standing partnership with Ravenwood Packaging into the public eye with an announcement that it is producing liner-free labels for a regional sausage manufacturer in Maryland, USA. Ravenwood says that Walmart is already using linerless technology in Europe to package food products like meat and pizza.
Also in the UK, Paragon Print & Packaging invested in a coater to ensure the quality and performance of its linerless label product. The coater applies the silicone face and pattern adhesive to the back of the linerless label product, which is a critical part of the construction. The backingless labels are applied using a Ravenwood Packaging Nobac 125, Nobac 400V and Nobac 500 labelers depending on the application requirement.
Avery Dennison has developed an innovative print and apply solution for carton and pallet labeling that does not require a liner. Unlike other current linerless products, Avery Dennison’s uses a dry adhesive that is activated just before application. The product eliminates liner waste and allows the printing of 60 percent more labels per roll, which together offer the potential for significant improvements in shop floor productivity and supply chain efficiency.
NuLabel, based in Providence, Rhode Island, launched its patent-pending liner-free label technology with an activateable adhesive in the US in 2009. The company has developed a special activatable adhesive chemistry and proprietary application hardware to integrate NuLabel’s liner-free platform into existing cut & stack labeling operations. Ready for commercialization, the initial target for this product is the growing craft beverage markets, particularly craft beer.
Other linerless label innovators These include Pago, Advanced Dynamics, Irplast, Mectec Elektronik, RR Donnelley and Heartland Label Printers. These companies’ activities are briefly described below.
In April 2008 Pago introduced the Pagomat Linerless system, based on continuously winding self-adhesive labels upon themselves and cutting in the dispensing process prior to application to the product. A clear-on-clear version allows reverse-side printing to protect the surface from scuffing and to impart a high gloss effect for the printed image. Pago says it can be readily integrated into all Pagomat labeling systems and, if required, users can combine it with conventional self-adhesive labeling in the same system.
Advanced Dynamics of Bradford in the UK has introduced a compact dispenser for linerless labels developed by Irplast in Italy and made from biaxially-oriented polypropylene film. The system is aimed at the food and drink packaging industry and uses a solventless adhesive coating that is said to ‘grip’, but not stick, when contact is made. The dispenser comes in three different formats for both primary and secondary packaging. The company says users can adapt and customize it to almost any packaging line for handling different product shapes.
Further companies involved in some form of linerless technology include Mectec Elektronik, a Swedish manufacturer of labeling systems, which offers a linerless version of its TT 100 print-and-apply machine with tamp/tamp-blow dispensing and a 4-inch thermal transfer head. Domino Printing Sciences, noted for inkjet coding systems for direct printing of cases and products, offers the M500 linerless print and apply labeler. The firm says it has developed a recyclable substrate.
RR Donnelley has been manufacturing linerless labels for many years and is capable of producing dual-ply products for extended information with various adhesive options. ETI Converting in-line converting equipment too can be used to manufacture liner-free labels. Heartland Label Printers has developed EcoTech, a family of linerless label and thermal printing BPA free products. EcoTech has been uniquely designed to deliver standard industry speeds and provide reliable adhesion for almost any application, including industrial, auto-apply, hand-apply and distribution center logistics labels.
CAPITAL EQUIPMENT INVESTMENT FOR PRODUCTION EFFICIENCY -PRESSES, AUTOMATIC UNWIND AND REWIND SYSTEMS
The modern production world offers numerous tools designed to streamline manufacturing. Industry-leading OEMs have introduced machines with shorter web path designs to tackle production waste and provide easy access to stations for faster changeover times, integrated with complex registration systems to produce saleable print as quickly as possible and dual servo motors to provide consistency in print with tension control.
Gallus has shown that the short web path on the Gallus RCS 340 reduces the total web in the machine from approximately 50 meters down to 12 meters, so giving an annual estimated waste reduction of approximately 10 tonnes, and a cost saving of €40,000 ($57,000) per annum.
Material that is in the press at a stop is generally not saleable. And with older presses, there is a greater tendency to move out of register during deceleration from and acceleration to production speed, likely creating more waste than may be seen on newer servo-driven presses.
The largest component of material waste can be attributed to time associated to the stopping and starting of a press for manual roll changes, the elimination of which is one way to reduce your waste significantly.
Efficient splicing is a critical way to reduce web breaks and butt rolls should be used to create profitable production whenever possible. An automatic butt splicer allows the material (generally 600+ feet) to be used down to the core.
Martin Automatic, global engineer of automatic unwind, splicing and rewind equipment, uses a return-on-investment (ROI) calculation to determine what savings can be expected from automatic roll changing. The results can be compelling.
Return on investment calculation
In this calculation model it is assumed that waste for a manual roll change equals one press web length of 150 feet:
Press length 150 feet per stop = 28.8 msi per stop
Unsaleable product due to slow down and speed up = one more press length of 150 feet = 28.8 msi per stop
Total loss of substrate = 300 linear feet = 57.6 msi per stop (300 linear feet x 16 in press width)
At 4000 rolls per year = 230,400 msi per year or 53,913 pounds per year
Total value = $20.85 per stop (57.6 msi x $0.362/msi)
Total value = $83,400 per year (4000 rolls/year x $20.85/stop)
This model, with two shifts of production operating 250 days per year, is wasting material at an annual rate of :
Historically, automated roll changing systems have been used on wider web equipment running long orders to gain a return on such an investment.
Martin Automatic introduced the MBSC Automatic Butt Splicer paired with the STR Turret Rewinder specifically for narrow web (up to 13in/330mm) presses running smaller diameter rolls (up to 31.5in/800mm). It is designed for speeds to 500fpm/130mpm.
At Walmart’s PMDC, labels are printed on a Mark Andy 2200 and a Mark Andy LP3000, both 13 inches and six-color. Attached to the front of both presses is a Martin Automatic splicer, and added to the end of each is a Martin Automatic rewinder. ‘These tools help us to eliminate waste and reduce downtime,’ says Marty Vavra, print products manager. ‘This is top of the line equipment and not only is our production better with it, morale of associates improves because they know they are working on the best available.’
A small run for the label house is 7-800,000 square feet, with many runs reaching lengths of 1.5-3 million square feet. ‘With the longer runs, we do not have much overhead,’ Vavra explains. ‘Nonetheless, it is a team effort to minimize downtime.’ With an average annual production volume of 160-170 million square feet of labelstock each year, you can immediately see where cost savings can be made when using Martin Automatic’s breakdown.
INSPECTION SYSTEMS, REGISTRATION
In can be assumed based on current recycling rates in any global region that a defect label will go to landfill. Quality standards are high in every market. Therefore adoption of verification and inspection systems has rapidly increased within the label converting industry to supply zero defect work and to reduce the production of non-saleable material.
Leading inspection system suppliers estimate that as much as 15 percent of a printed job can be thrown away due to defects for various reasons – color matching, nicks, misregistration. These systems allow operators to speed-up make-ready time and produce quality products in a timely fashion.
Some newer systems offer both 100 percent inspection and color measurement in-line of paper and film materials for increased consistency. The system detects every type of printing or finishing fault – color misregister, color variations, hazing, misprints, defect in the text, spots, splashes, die-cut problems, barcode problems, missing labels and many others.
The most advanced systems have developed algorithms to meet label specific needs such as character defect detection, die-cut miss-register, and matrix removal problems. These systems allow printers to run their equipment at higher speeds while at the same time greatly increasing output efficiency and quality.
Performance data can typically be collected to provide traceability of waste. There are also a number of registration control systems that are documented to reduce waste by as much as 60 percent when adapted to an older non-servo driven press.
SOLID WASTE RECYCLING/RECOVERY
Even with automation and successful lean manufacturing programs, invariably waste is found in label and packaging production. The material waste left after production must retain its value when exiting a manufacturing plant. The ideal solution for retaining material value is through a closed-loop system with total zero-waste-to-landfill.
Ricoh Company, for example, has a long history of conducting business profitably and sustainably. Incredibly, the firm has been totally landfill-free, globally, since 2001. The Ricoh Electronics division of the large international company manufactures a significant amount of thermal transfer material for the global label industry. In order to achieve zero-waste-to-landfill, Ricoh encouraged and trained its employees to participate positively, rewarding those that do. Simultaneously, it placed a strong onus on its suppliers to recover its materials that produced manufacturing waste within its production lines.
It established internal best practices and easy recovery systems for employees to participate with little change. Within its supplier purchasing agreements, it created relationships with bidders willing to help the company achieve profitable output with minimum wastage, and who are willing to recover this waste and packaging for distribution. Ricoh implemented a Refuse & Return system where it refuses to accept excessive packaging and works with suppliers to deliver products more sustainably with modern alternatives. It also encourages suppliers to find ways for Ricoh to return packaging for reuse.
Globally there are a number of options for paper and film label waste – matrix, off cuts, make ready, liner – to be collected and reconstructed into what is known as an upcycled product, or waste manufactured into an item that brings more value. Label waste can be reprocessed into a wide variety of paper items like egg cartons, cereal boxes, towels, tissues, cores and cardboard, agricultural products such as plant pots and seed trays, building materials, cat litter, decking, furniture and fuel pellets. This can be seen in the diagram below.
Figure 5.5 - Shows some of the many options now available for the disposal of edge trim and matrix waste
There are many benefits to retaining the value of label material waste:
Cost savings, based on regional disposal costs
Revenue stream as natural resources increase in value
Reduce methane emissions (mercury and sulphur)
Reduced gas usage and related air pollution, based on location
Matrix waste and release liner are specific by-products of label production. A label matrix consists of paper or filmstock with adhesive coating and perhaps ink. Liner waste consists of silicone coated paper or film material. The chemical make-up and physical characteristics of the array of adhesives and silicones used in the industry present specific challenges to recyclers when reprocessing label materials. Adhesives may cause processing machinery to ‘gum up’, requiring downtime for extensive cleaning. Silicones may contaminate the paper pulp, limiting saleable markets.
The first step towards solid waste recovery is design. Label designers need to know how to create a label most compatible with local recycling outlets in the region of a product’s sale, accounting for distribution distance, accepted materials, their value in the market and output – and whenever possible incorporate RCAs and wash-off adhesives into a label’s construction.
The supply chain must work even more closely together to support each link with the necessary research, expertise and knowledge of local waste practices and requirements in mature, maturing and developing markets. To make a real impact to the global label industry’s environmental footprint, the supply chain must educate one another on the issues. There are a number of outstanding label and package printing programs at leading international universities to use as a response.
Figure 5.6 - Everyone in the recycling and sustainability supply chain needs to be working together
Let’s take an example. Mixing BOPP film (popular facestock) with PET (popular base material) in the recycling process impairs the clarity of the plastic, making it undesirable for reuse in new bottles. Spear collaborated with its material suppliers to create SpearPET, a BOPP film matched with a proprietary adhesive that releases from the PET flake during the recycling process, separating the BOPP facstock from the stream and maintaining the usability of the PET with acceptable clarity.
Spear is believed to be the first label converter to introduce such a PS material and adhesive construction awarded by The Association of Post Consumer Plastic Recyclers. As noted earlier, there is rapid LCA prototyping software already used for package design. To address the specific concerns with adhesives and silicones in the label waste recycling process, the label industry too needs a dedicated solution.
As a whole, the industry must better understand how each of the current label waste recycling systems work in order to facilitate efficient streams and to increase rates. Label converters must also improve environmental accounting and process evaluation to meet pressure from customers and EU legislation, such as the Integrated Product Policy (IPP) which seeks to minimize negative environmental impacts by looking at all phases of a product’s life cycle and taking action where it is most effective.
There are three key barriers to overcome in order to increase label industry recycle rates globally:
Calvin Frost, forty-year champion of sustainability and recycling within the label industry and TLMI environmental committee chair, is the CEO of Channeled Resources Group (CRG). He says that there currently is not a cost-effective, time-efficient infrastructure to stimulate the desire or capability to recycle these materials, and is the first to admit that the industry is working hard to make a change. It is not cost-effective or efficient to pick up small quantities of liner.
Recyclers work closely with their raw material suppliers (label and packaging converters) to identify and qualify suitable raw materials for its products. Using them as a resource gives label converters the opportunity to meet, or even supersede, supply chain demands set by Walmart and P&G sustainability scorecards.
Converters should be actively looking for practical landfill and incineration alternatives for operational waste. The few already involved in recycling programs are directing 85-100 percent of their waste into value streams.
Many regional markets have successful single or mixed stream recycling programs in place, and the number is growing as world leaders together command zero-waste-to-landfill by all industries and for all types of products. For example, Skanem Liverpool in the UK has 100 percent of its filmic matrix waste collected by a local recycler who breaks the material down and reprocesses it into plastic end-user items for building and agricultural sectors. In California’s wine country, Paragon Label sends 100 percent of its operational waste to a local recycler where it is used to produce egg cartons.
UPM Raflatac launched Rafcycle in 2007 to recover the waste generated during the life cycle of self-adhesive labelstock instead of sending it to landfill. Now the supplier collects waste off-cuts and trimmings from self-adhesive labels at its European factories and from its customers for use as raw material in the production of UPM ProFi wood plastic composite. UPM has ProFi manufacturing sites in Lahti, Finland, and Stuttgart, Germany, both strategically located near the sources of label waste and to the main customer base.
The ProFi composite combines the best characteristics of cellulose wood fibers and plastic polymers to create decking. The proportion of the recycled paper and plastic in UPM ProFi varies depending on the product application, but it's always more than 50 percent. The only added plastic is clean polypropylene. The remaining raw materials include different fillers and color.
Raflatac collects its Proliner PP30 polypropylene liner from its customers and end-users as well. Polypropylene is easily recyclable, has real commercial value and is commonly traded. Depending on the market price, UPM Raflatac may pay as much as 250 to 350 euros per ton of ProLiner PP30 waste when it is delivered back to the supplier through its RafCycle program. Each square meter of UPM ProFi deck boards contains 10kg of label waste. Rafcycle was launched in North America in spring 2011.
With an innovative outlook and respect for the environment, French label printer Aset-Bidoit has been thoroughly converted to the advantages of UPM Raflatac’s ProLiner PP 30 filmic backing material.
According to general manager Eric Groshens: ‘It seemed an obvious thing for us to do: to innovate and come up with solutions that better responded to our clients’ productivity requirements.’
In addition to the productivity gains for printers and packers using a thinner labelstock – like more labels per roll, fewer roll changes and higher speeds – the material offers an environmentally sound alternative to siliconized glassine.
Christelle Dubois, marketing manager at Aset-Bidoit, says: ‘Nowadays our customers pay to dispose of their traditional backing material, but with ProLiner PP30 they can make good use of it. We believe in the value it adds for our customers – we started recommending it to them last year.’
Rather than paying for landfill, UPM Raflatac’s RafCycle program allows customers to claim cash back on used liner. The returned PP liner can be given a new life – recycled into UPM ProFi products like outdoor decking.
It is possible to recover self-adhesive waste from the laminator or converter to be reprocessed into fuel pellets as an alternative energy in place of coal. In most cases, a converter needs only to collect these various waste streams into one, alleviating the step of separating various components.
A converter that participates in this waste-to-energy solution becomes a raw material supplier for alternative, biomass energy.
Benefits to using biomass fuel pellets made from label waste include:
Before partnering with converters, waste stream samples are tested for energy (cellulosic) content, fiber content, non-combustible content and other trace materials and minerals prior to approval for use. Typically the waste is collected and compacted at the label manufacturing plant. The compacted bails are either picked-up or delivered to the recycling plant. The recycler then transforms the material into small bullet-sized pellets that can be used in existing coal-burning furnaces in power plants.
The pellets work as a substitute or can be mixed with coal. They are manufactured not only from label matrix, but also from other non-recyclable waste materials such as coated and laminated papers, wax cardboard, textiles, Styrofoam, plastics, all types of packaging materials, wood products and process out-throws from various manufacturing process applications.
There are a handful of recyclers in the US capable and willing to accept label waste for this purpose and their locations are fragmented. This form of recycling label waste brings manufacturing jobs, real benefits to surrounding utilities companies and maintains the material’s value. Most renewable energy sources are used sporadically within the grid only in support of conventional energy sources. The integration of weather dependent renewable sources (solar, wind, water) into the grid poses challenges with regard to reliability.
Fuel pellets have the potential to provide ‘on demand’ renewable power generation. The pellets closely replicate the energy, storage and handling characteristics of coal, delivering on average 10,000 Btu/lb and, since they can be used with existing coal burning infrastructure, require little up-front cost. Pellet fuel is an attractive source of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) for utilities firms and is a cost-effective means of reaching mandated renewable energy standards found in many nations and states (Renewable Portfolio Standard, Renewables Obligation, Renewable Electricity Standard).
Greenwood Fuels - Greenwood Fuels in Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA, started production in 2009 and has an annual capacity of approximately 150,000 tons, equivalent to 3MBtu. It estimates that the total annual landfill avoidance is 250,000 tons and that the total amount of coal displaced annually is 150,000 tons. About 3,000 tons of label waste is processed monthly, and it’s looking to increase throughput by another 3,000 tons quickly.
Channeled Resources Group (CRG) is an industry-leading label waste recovery firm since the 1970s and winner of the 2010 Global Green Award.
The company is contracted to supply 100 percent of the material to Greenwood Fuels. It assists converters with the logistical issues of delivering waste to Greenwood Fuel locations.
Figure 5.7 - Biomass fuel pellets from label waste
While the solution is only viable for converters within 300 miles of Greenwood Fuel locations in Green Bay, Wisconsin, it has plans to expand into Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2012 to process between 7,000-10,000 tons of label waste per month. It collects 100 percent of the waste from WS Packaging’s headquarters in nearby Algoma, Wisconsin, which has teamed with many of the numerous Cincinnati-area converters like Spear, Steinhauser and Multi-Color Corporation to support the installation of a local waste-to-energy outlet.
IPP - International Paper Products Corporation (IPP), located in Massachusetts, is diverting over 30,000 tons of label waste from landfill each year.
Due to the high landfill costs on the eastern coast of the US, IPP reports that it can save converters in the vicinity as much as 70 percent in disposal costs. Dion Label Printing is located in the same town as IPP. The cost of hauling PS waste to the recycling company is half of what it would cost to landfill the material.
In taking a look at pressure sensitive material specifically, the current global expenditure of PS label release liner is approximately 1.4m tons. North America and Europe are estimated to each produce around 450,000 tons of paper base for silicone coating. Seventy percent of the world’s release liners are paper. Less than eight percent of liner waste is recycled globally and maybe 10 percent in the western world.
The collection and recycling rate is believed to be higher for filmic liner, maybe 25 percent, because of the huge amount generated by one or two players in the beer industry that participate in liner recovery programs. There is little doubt that label industry recycle rates must improve.
RECYCLED CONTENT PAPER
While many of the technical issues with regards to recycling and repulping liner are solved, paper mills in Europe and North America do not want generally to deal with silicone contaminated paper in their production stream. Paper mills in Asia and South America are more willing to accept these materials to be reprocessed into new paper grades for items like toilet paper and low-grade paper towels, increasing the reclamation value.
The barriers for cost-effective, streamlined collection of release liner are especially high because it is material produced by label users at the point of application to a container or package. Who holds ultimate responsibility? Calvin Frost of CRG, having worked diligently for the last three decades to facilitate a solution for liner waste recovery, knows these issues well.
When it comes to pressure sensitive labels, release liner can be the largest single source of waste leaving the factory, which is just the case at global brand owner Sara Lee’s location in Slough, Berkshire, UK. Legislation and overall drive to have the smallest environmental footprint possible has prepared brand owners to take responsibility for the burial of their packaging waste and they are looking to their label and packaging suppliers for alternatives to this option.
Cycle4Green - Cycle4Green (C4G) started recycling silicone coated and other specialty papers in 2009. C4G collects, desiliconizes and processes the waste papers to be used by Austrian paper company Lenzing Papier to produce new base paper for release liners. A couple of the product lines have ranked as excellent in the WWF's global benchmarking audit tool.
It has collection programs at release liner end-users and logistical solutions to transport waste material locally, centralized storage and transport to a recycling facility. The current focus for Lenzing Papier is to scale-up sourcing with its industry partners, now including labelstock producers, converters and end-users.
Sara Lee applies front and back labels to 10 million shampoo bottles each week for all Radox bath products destined for Europe, with some 8,000 labels on each 250m roll. Following a contract with CRG in the UK to pick up Sara Lee’s glassine liner waste on a regular basis and recycle it, the facility has generated savings over 50 percent on the cost of disposal. The cores are taken from the applicators and put into boxes in two tightly packed layers. Weight per container has increased from 230kg to 460kg, achieving an overall packaging efficiency of 80 percent.
The boxes of liner waste are collected by Channeled Resources and transported by road to Merseyside, in the north west of England. Initially the liner waste was shipped to India, where it was sold to paper mills for recycling into low grade paper products. Now it goes to Cycle4Green, a CRG partner in Austria.
Cycle4Green implements the following steps when looking to start a collection program:
Start-up assistance and training
Follow-up performance improvement
Scale-up to handle all waste and to ensure sustainability improvement
A number of European label converters have already adopted C4G’s recycling service and is promoting it to their customers, including CCL Label Holzkirchen, Top-Label, and Ulrich Etiketten in Germany, Ulrich Etiketten in Austria and Zeus Media in the UK.
Self-adhesive materials specialist Herma, based near Stuttgart in Germany, has expanded its portfolio with especially environmentlly-friendly products that use recycled paper for both the liner and the label itself. At the same time, the range of sustainable products is being developed through the launch of PEFC-certified papers.
The company started its collaboration with the Cycle4Green initiative, which recycles silicone-coated release liner, last year.
Cellulose Reciclada in Brazil recycles only 30 percent of the total volume of paper and cardboard it consumes, and until recently had no legislation to incentivize recovery and reuse. In 2010 the Brazilian government enacted the National Policy on Solid Waste (Politica Nacional de Residuos Solidos or PNRS) which places responsibility for solid waste recovery on the producer.
The country imports waste regularly to balance inflation and stabilize supplies in the domestic market. In 1989 Brazil was already importing 35,000 tons of waste paper from the United States, estimated to equate to USD $3.5m.
Recycling rates for release liner has increased in Brazil since 2004 when Cellulose Reciclada collected, treated and sold its first supply of paper pulp to a local mill. Since then over twenty-five national and international brand companies contribute liner paper to be reprocessed, including:
Johnson & Johnson (São José Dos Campos/SP)
Unilever (São Paulo/SP e Recife/PE)
The paper mill uses the recovered cellulose pulp just like virgin material and it is cheaper in Brazil than raw resources. The (IPT) Technology Research Institute of São Paulo approved the validity of the material’s quality in 2007 and says that in a city like São Paulo the government could save $30m in cleaning costs, and could possibly realize $15m annually in paper sales from recycled products if there was a market for it.
The Brazilian label association ABIEA offers release liner recycling to its membership in cooperation with Cellulose Reciclada.
Dalton Enterprises - Located in Anaheim, California, Delta Enterprises picks up and processes matrix and off-cut label material where it’s subsequently combined with other paper products, and shipped to accepting foreign mills. The recycler tries to maintain that less than 10 percent of the content sent to foreign paper mills be converter waste. Dalton requires that converters separate plastic waste from paper.
Balcones Resources - Located in Austin, Texas, Balcones Resources promotes waste-to-energy Fuel Technology diversion. The company works with various manufacturers to create a centralized, integrated, waste-stream management plan to divert various non-traditional wastes from going to landfill.
It is imperative both financially and for the environment to have a full truckload of liner picked up. The more volume of liner that can be collected at one point makes for a viable recycling program.
Due to the nature of the Spear Group’s North American customer base, the converter was able to facilitate liner pick up for a majority of its clients.
Sixty percent of Spear customers use PS labels, many prefer PET release liner for application efficiencies and a good percentage have some of the highest average run lengths found in the industry. The larger the customer, the more liner expended, giving opportunity for cost-effective landfill options and bottom-line savings.
The most impactful way that Spear achieved this reduction was by connecting its customers with recycling groups that can collect expended release liner after application. Spear has motivated 75 percent of all its customers, including Anheuser-Busch and Heineken to participate in a PET liner collection program salvaging 7.8m pounds of Spear PS liner from going to landfill.
Spear turned to the PET recycling community as another way to reduce the impact of PS labels on the environment, particularly by giving the smaller players an option. It works closely with Faith Group, a PET materials trader and processor, with locations in New Jersey, Mexico and Hong Kong, and collaborates with Avangard Innovative, one of the largest recycling support groups in Mexico. Both companies specialize in the collection of used plastics, most any type, shredding it and turning it into regrind pellets for the textile industry.
Other converters too have found such recyclers to be an outlet for smaller quantities of spent PET liner when combined with other packaging scrap, such as strapping, material core and shrink wrap. Spear’s facilitated collection and recycle of additional packaging scrap recovered another 15m pounds of waste from going to landfill.
Financial benefits combined with the capability to add more total value to their organizations will move more brands to participate going forward. However, converters report that it has been more difficult to persuade clients that use co-packers.
CRADLE-TO-CRADLE LINER RECYCLING
Mitsubishi Polyester Films went commercial with its PET Reprocess liner material in spring 2011. It is currently collecting liner from three of the US’ largest beer bottling-label application facilities. Initially Mitsubishi will replace five percent of its virgin content liner material with the recovered material as a minimum. It hopes to raise the content percentage to 25 within 18 months.
The key to the successful advancement of the project is establishing consistent supply of spent release liner to ensure customers can reliably order Reprocess liner as an alternative. The reprocessed liner has the same qualities for application speed and breakage as virgin material, and sells at the same price point. Mitsubishi will collect other suppliers’ liner, but will direct the waste into another recycling stream.
OTHER SOLID WASTE
Label and package print manufacturing produces a number of other waste streams like printing plates, film, inks and their containers, and hazardous wastes such as solvents, blanket wash, oil and grease, fountain solutions, photographic chemicals, acids and etching from gravure printing and the rags contaminated with these materials.
DuPont has been piloting the recovery of plate materials from various customer locations across North America. It will remove old plates, including competitor materials, from a customer’s site and will also remove the corrugated delivery boxes for reuse. Still, the barriers of volume, logistics and cost make it difficult to justify the service for every customer. It is working to set-up collection centers within its distribution partners’ facilities to allow for volume accumulation and to reach more converters. Other plate material suppliers are reviewing potential programs as more converters, across all levels of printing, express interest in having these materials properly recovered for revalue.
Flint Group Flexographic Products has launched a program to provide a plate waste recovery service to its flexographic printing plate customers in the United States.
Cubic yard corrugated containers are provided to customers who join the program. As plate waste is accumulated, raw plates, coversheets and used printing plates – with or without mounting tape affixed – are placed in these containers. When the containers are full, the customer calls a toll-free number and the containers are picked up by a licensed waste service provider and replaced with new ones. Title to the waste transfers to the disposal company, which utilizes it for its energy content in the manufacture of cement. The process involves 100 percent recycling of the waste; even the ash content after incineration becomes part of the cement product.
‘The real beauty of this service is that the customer receives the peace of mind in knowing that this waste has been responsibly disposed of, and at the same time is achieving a more eco-efficient process,’ says Terri Stewart, marketing manager for Flint Group Flexographic Products.
Many converters are reducing ink usage and small container numbers by purchasing inks in higher volumes delivered in 55-gallon drums that can easily be returned and reused by the supplier. For conventional printing, this is a viable solution that has both cut waste and reduced costs by leveraging volume. Digital printing and the cartridges and printheads used for production present an entirely new dynamic and as the technology continues to grow will require more attention from its stakeholders.
Hazardous waste may not go into landfill. The waste will harm the ecosystem surrounding improper disposal if not managed properly. Sustainable disposal of the materials is the producer’s responsibility. The producer must ensure that the waste is transported to a facility that is certified to handle such materials. It is important to keep clear documentation to verify the action was handled appropriately.
Talk to suppliers about new products that minimize solvent usage, recover solvents with distillation or filtering and solid separation for blanket wash solvents, reuse the solvent for blending inks and cleaning rollers and limit the amount used on rags. In the process, it’s possible to use the same solvent for each color so it can be reused to clean ink tray.
Rags should be used for as long as possible, and can be from scrap cloth rather than virgin. Operators should be trained to use a dirty rag for the first cleaning path and a clean one for the second.
Label converters can reblend inks, and with larger volumes may be able to send old inks back to the supplier. Look for removable ink trays to reduce ink left in the fountain, adopt a standard ink sequence and only clean a fountain when a color is being moved, or when the ink may dry out between jobs.
Skanem Liverpool recently completed an environmental project focused on the disposal of waste products from its manufacturing process. A new bailing system has been installed and the return and reuse of all ink, varnish and chemistry containers has also been introduced, both internally and with supply partners.
There is alcohol-free fountain solution that can be disposed of in city sewers in some regions; however lithographic fountain solution must be disposed of as hazardous waste in most areas. Oil and grease can typically be recovered and should be recycled through a licensed waste contractor.
The easiest way to rid a converting operation of photographic chemicals is by shifting to a fully digital plate producing workflow. If converters maintain solvent wash systems, silver recovery units can be used. Local officials have different requirements, so check details in each plant’s region. Adhesives and varnishes can be highly flammable and must be collected by a certified waste collector. The best way to avoid the use of acids for etching (gravure cylinder production) is by switching to a laser etching system.
A waste management system also needs to be put into place for both the office area and manufacturing area of a label converting plant. In addition to label waste, a label company will also produce non-label waste such as wood pallets, cardboard, and everyday office waste like paper, ink cartridges, computers, and kitchen goods such as aluminum cans and plastic bottles. Most of these products can be recycled today and there are many excellent schemes and initiatives available nationally and locally that converters can work with.
RECENT SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS DEVELOPMENTS
Avery Dennison and the Rainforest Alliance
The major materials suppliers have reinforced their commitment to use sustainably sourced paper in their laminate constructions. At Labelexpo Europe 2013 Avery Dennison CEO Dean Scarborough made a public commitment to making sustainability-certified paper-based laminates available to converters at the same cost as non-certified substrates.
With guidance from the Rainforest Alliance, the company says it is ‘actively working to eliminate controversial fiber sources, increase certified and recycled sources, and improve environmental performance in the supply chain’.
This policy initiative was supported by a $200,000 grant awarded by the Avery Dennison Foundation to the Rainforest Alliance to foster best practices in forestry management, create jobs and increase access to sustainably managed forest products.
The first joint project is taking place in Honduras, where the Rainforest Alliance is helping reduce deforestation by providing farmers and forest managers with sustainable alternatives to forest destruction. In Honduras, unsustainable land-use practices have resulted in extensive destruction of the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, Honduras’s largest natural forest reserve covering over two million acres.
Avery Dennison CleanFlake
A major move forward in the recycling of single-journey PET containers is Avery Dennison’s CleanFlake portfolio, which has already won a clutch of sustainability awards including nomination for the Global Label Awards, awarded every year at Labelexpo by a leading industry panel of judges.
CleanFlake is a patent-pending adhesive technology that ‘switches off’ when submerged in a recycling bath so the label cleanly separates from the PET flakes. Although these labels adhere firmly to PET bottles or containers during use, they detach readily in a conventional recycling facility and float to the surface of the bath, allowing clean PET flakes to sink to the bottom for easier reclamation.
An Avery Dennison Greenprint lifecycle analysis showed that if 50 billion sq inches of typical pressure-sensitive labels were changed to CleanFlake, there would be a 75 percent reduction in solid waste. This amounts to more than 53,000 tons of waste – the equivalent of the waste generated by more than 20,000 US households.
Direct printing, paper labels and standard pressure-sensitive labels applied to PET bottles tend to lower the recycling efficiency and the quality of recycled PET. In 2010, 1.5 billion lbs of PET were collected for recycling in the US, yet reclaimers reported yield losses ranging from 24.4 percent to 32.2 percent due to contamination by labels, adhesives and other components – amounting to a loss of over 40 million lbs of bottles.
In January 2014 UK association BPIF Labels and Prismm Environmental signed up ten companies, diverting an estimated 6,500 tonnes of waste away from landfill. The scheme offers a 'milk round' collection of waste materials from smaller label companies, ensuring their conversion into bio-mass fuels. .
The 'zero-to-waste' project, which was successfully piloted in South Yorkshire in partnership with Mid UK recycling, has since been extended across the UK. Currently, the scheme is only open to companies capable of storing 15 tonnes before collection, due to logistical complications. .
The waste savings so far equates to three percent of all waste generated by the self-adhesive label sector, though the organizers admit that there is still work to be done and aim to target medium-to-large UK converters in 2014, with the intention of further increasing the savings made by the scheme.
Bradford-based The Label Makers has implemented internal processes as part of the scheme in order to enable waste to be collected in a three-weekly cycle. It now sends 240 tonnes less to landfill each year.
Labelexpo Americas is increasingly becoming a showcase for sustainable solutions with the further development of the EcoVillage concept. At the 2012 show a global first was demonstrated with the collection matrix waste from the many live press demonstrations held over the Show’s three days duration.
With the help of Greenwood Fuels and Channeled Resources, the matrix was collected every few hours and after the show the waste was compacted and picked up by Greenwood Fuels to be turned into fuel pellets. Greenwood’s fuel pellets are a direct substitute for coal but with a lower carbon and overall emissions’ footprint. Also present were two label converters already supplying waste matrix to Greenwood, included Heartland Label and The Outlook Group.
FINAT recycling awards
At its 2014 annual congress, FINAT introduced its first Recycling awards.
In the converter category, the winner was Hagmaier Etiketten & Druck, which impressed the jury with its high recycling rates for both paper and film liner, the communication efforts made both inside and outside of the company, and the solutions offered for other secondary materials. The company also offers to take back its customers spent liner.
The end-user category was won by Unilever, which demonstrated a clear commitment to a zero waste to landfill policy. Not only is this clearly communicated on the company’s website and in its sustainability report, but it is also reflected in Unilever’s long history in liner recycling and its impressive liner recycling figures.
Ritrama and Core Linerless Solutions
A major development in Linerless labels was the development by Ritrama, along with leading industry partners, of the CORE linerless system.
Core Linerless Solutions is targeted at high volume global end users in the home, personal care and beverage industries. For label converters, workflow remains the same – they simply print a laminate, without die-cutting, at full press speed. This web is converted into a single ply linerless label on a machine specially designed by Prati. The linerless applicator, built by Ilti, allows easy changeover between PSA and linerless modules: a trolley-based plug and play unit can be exchanged in under a minute.
In trials to date, line speeds up to 450 bottles/minute have been achieved, although Ilti says double that speed should be possible. Multiple label types can be applied on the same container.
Smart Planet Technologies
Another major breakthrough has been claimed by Smart Planet Technologies, which is using traditional extrusion coating equipment to produce mineralized resins to replace the plastic coatings commonly laminated to paper for enhanced barrier.
Paper packaging with plastic coatings cannot easily be recycled with standard recovery equipment, and despite the widespread collection infrastructure for packaging materials, recyclers typically decline to accept plastic coated cartons and cups and large quantities of those materials are diverted to landfill. The plastic layer creates processing problems at many recycling mills.
The cities of Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis, Minnesota do not accept plastic coated boards in their municipality recycling program for this reason.
A lot of poly coated stock is high value solid bleach board (SBS), which is contaminated by the poly. Recyclers shy away because it will clog up their systems without additional chemical and mechanical processing.
Smart Planet Technologies’ has developed a way to mineralize commonly used plastic coatings, such that barrier-sealed boards can pass standard industry recycling tests. Georgia Tech’s Institute of Paper Science Technology (IPST) has completed third party testing, which demonstrated high yields, good processing attributes, and re-pulpability.
EarthCoating delivers key advantages, including improved barrier and heat seal performance, potential cost savings and a reduced environmental footprint. Various packaging supply chain stakeholders have successfully tested EarthCoating across a broad range of applications, including hot and cold beverage cups, salad and hot bar food trays, frozen food boxes, chilled wine labels and ice cream packaging.
In its capacity as a major pulp supplier, UPM Raflatac has been making major sustainability strides, with UPM Biofuels receiving the European Union’s Sustainable Energy Europe Award 2014 for the innovative approach in using the residue of their own pulp production, crude tall oil, as a new use in raw material for the production of advanced biofuels to lower greenhouse gas emissions. UPM BioVerno is a high quality drop-in diesel that can be used with no need to change vehicles.
The company has also increased its cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund in Poland and Finland, sharing its experience in helping reduce river pollution and increasing biodiversity.
DEVELOPING AN ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ON SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT
Solid waste is one of the key areas of environment and sustainability that can be readily changed by the label converter. Measures to reduce handling waste, set-up waste, edge-trim and matrix waste and, with the customer, liner waste will all pay dividends and help to enhance the bottom line.
A range of possible solutions and case study examples have been set out in this article, with suppliers, converters, end-users and waste handling companies all now contributing to making the label industry a more sustainable place. Reducing solid waste and eventually eliminating waste-to-landfill needs to become second nature to the industry. Some converters are already well down this route. Other industry players still have a long way to go.
The challenge today is that legislation is perhaps moving faster towards label and pack recycling and elimination of landfill waste than many converters are. Being left behind is not an option. These issues are not for the future; they are with us today, and converters need to be reacting today.
To assist label converters in building an environmental policy statement for solid waste management this series book has drawn up a guideline policy statement that can be used or adapted to their own company operations and environmental requirements.
Environmental policy on solid waste management
We undertake periodic reviews of all our manufacturing and operational processes to determine the causes and nature of our solid waste and take appropriate steps to reduce, recycle, re-use, or have safe environmental disposal of, waste material.
Specific measures introduced;
We regularly audit the volumes/values of our solid waste and implement measures to achieve an on-going reduction
We work with a recycling company that takes much of our solid waste away for recycling and/or reprocessing as appropriate
We have a target aim to eventually work towards zero landfill for all solid waste
We work with our customers to create label solutions that minimize their environmental impact and have a high LCA value
We have introduced a program of lean manufacturing that curtails waste and improves productivites
We have introduced a program of employee education and training to encourage more environmentally-friendly ways of working and waste reduction
We have identified and use as appropriate with customers the latest in thin film, wash-off, bio-degradable, recycled or recyclable materials
We regularly review our capital investment program to source the most efficient printing, inspection and handling equipment
We constantly examine new solutions and opportunities to reduce, recover or recycle our solid waste
We encourage suppliers to find ways to work with us to return incoming packaging for re-use or recycling