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Flexo Sustainable : Summer 2012
Self-adhesive labels have changed the packaging industry since their inception. The adaptable, sani- tary, and flexible nature of labels have made them the choice in many key fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) segments. This is especially true with foods (both as primary and secondary product labels and for “price weigh” applica- tions and other variable information print); with personal and homecare products; and, primarily, with beverages. A DESIGNER’S DREAM The self-adhesive laminate also makes it possible to diecut exceptionally complex label shapes on press – a designer ’s dream – and to apply multiple labels (front, back, neckstrap, etc) in just one pass on the packaging line. Finally, track-and- trace, product authentication, and tamper-evident features can be an intrinsic part of a self-adhesive label. THE BEVERGE BOOM The global growth in premium beers has proved a dynamic self-adhesive label market around the globe in recent years; and wines – both premium cuvées and bulk supermarket qualities – are today enjoying the eye-catching on-shelf appeal that short- or long-run self-adhesive labels can create, both by the traditional print processes and by today ’s high-quality digital label print. This flexibility has made “limited editions” a practical possibility. “Fashion” soft drinks, such as smoothies, juices, and CSDs (carbonated soft drinks) are also popular users of the self-adhesive label, which delivers a variety of innovative finishes and effects on a wide choice of label face materials – including textured papers, foils, and clear films (which give the favored no- label look on a clear container). SUSTAINABILITY ISSUES As a key contributor to the global packaging industry, the self-adhesive label industry is as committed to the cause of sustainability as all its peers. However, it faces some unique challenges in the context of sustainability – in relation to the in- dustry ’s extremely long, complex, and specialized value chain. At the heart of a label is the “sandwich” of a face material, adhesive, release coating, and release liner. In itself, this is a combination of many different components, to which must be added the printing inks and other on-press processes that create the finished label, ready for automatic application to a product. No single level of the value chain can offer a full and detailed picture of the process of delivering a self-adhesive label; but, despite this complexity, the self-adhesive label in- dustry must present a single, united profile if it is to be able to communicate with, and partner, the brand owners, the retail- ers, and ultimately the consumers in the environmental arena. It makes sense for an industry association such as FINAT, which represents the whole label production value chain – raw material suppliers, label stock coaters and laminators, and label converters – to take on that responsibility. For a number of years, FINAT has been creating and updating industry-standard performance test methods, and – with an increasing number of sister organizations around the world – is currently engaged in advancing a detailed for- mal agenda for step-by-step actions to make our industry “greener” We are also actively supporting a raft of initiatives in the recycling arena. PARTNERS IN SUCCESS Packaging buyers, brand managers, and designers are all increasingly aware of the need to sell products in an environ- An Evolution in Sustainability In a complex value chain, solutions and challenges abound for the labeling industry By Jules Lejeune Managing Director, FINAT 10 Sustainable FLEXO suMMer 2012 www.flexomag.com