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Liners under pressure

The solid waste legislation passed recently by the Brazilian government (see our Brazil Summit review) is one of the most far reaching in the world, and has put release liner waste under particular pressure. Liner is ‘the new villain of the piece’, commented one leading Brazilian converter. It can no longer be landfilled or incinerated and must be collected and recycled. 

The Brazilian industry is faced with having to act fast to comply with the stringent terms and short time scale mandated by the legislation, and it is coming up against problems all too familiar across the developed world where such strategies have been tried: a fragmented industry unable to collect sufficient quantities of liner waste in one place to make collection and reprocessing economically viable; and a lack of commercial facilities for de-siliconizing paper-based liners. 

But already the legislation is forcing the development of new ideas and new technology solutions. Local company Celulose Reciclada is investing in new capacity to recycle paper liners from end users in the Sao Paulo region, while Colacril is in the late evaluation stage for technology which turns used filmic liners back into ‘good as new’ filmic release liners.

The lesson is clear: the global label industry must be pro-active in tackling the sustainability issues which surround release liner waste – or governments and global brands will force the pace in ways which may be difficult or prohibitively expensive for the industry to manage. 

But sometimes it is only the reality of that legislation which forces the development of new solutions. The example of Brazil demonstrates both trends at work.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Thomas is strategic director of Labels & Labeling.

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