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Flexo Sustainable : Year-End 2012
Most recently, Ahlstrom has announced it will collect spent glassine liner (super- calendered kraft paper) and recycle it into the production of the company ’s specialty papers at its Osnabrück mill in Germany. Ahlstrom’s logistics partners will collect the material from brand owners or print- ers free of charge, provided a minimum collection quantity is met. The program will work across Germany, Belgium, Lux- embourg, and The Netherlands. A parallel system is in the course of start-up in Switzerland, where three lead- ing label printers have created a map route of their customers in the country ’s industrial areas, for collection of spent liner by logistics and support partners C4G for recycling at Lenzing. The con- cept will be rolled out to smaller printers and their customers, as in Germany, in due course. These pathways would appear to be the very best answer for reclaiming valu- able spent paper release liner into new paper production: true closed-loop recycling. They however face the significant challenge of moving from being an opportunity to being a widely-adopted route, achieving economically-viable through- put volumes of spent liner to keep the mill systems running and reduce landfill. To give an example of the challenge, the label industry is so far contributing less than 10 percent of the Lenz- ing mill’s annual paper waste intake. LONG ROAD TO SUCCESS It is here, therefore, that the self-adhesive label industry needs help from the end-user, as well as brand-owning and contract packing companies who use its label products. Reaching the right people to set up liner collection is a difficult task. First, the converter or his representative needs to get buy-in from the sustainability leader in the end-user company—often a person at board level, far from the location of the packaging line the converter serves. That achieved, purchasing and packaging managers have to be convinced that there are sustainability im- provements and cost savings to be made by buying into a label waste collection process—a process which involves far smaller quantities than for cartonboard or plastic films. Finally, the site manager must be contacted: he/she is the person with whom to organize preparation of spent liner waste, and collection timings. This affirmation cycle can take weeks and months. There are 8,000 or so end-user customers of self-adhesive label converters in the European Union alone. All of them have a contribution to make to improving the sustainability credentials of their own companies, as well as that of the self- adhesive label industry. In the process, liner collection and recycling can give new life to valuable paper-based products. On behalf of Europe’s 3000 or so self-adhesive label converters, I appeal to brand owners – especially those in high-volume market segments, such as food, beverage, and personal care – to facilitate a path to spent release liner col- lection. As raw material costs continue to escalate and the world’s natural resources diminish, this is a true opportunity to contribute to the sustainability of a leading product decora- tion technology. About the Author: Jules Lejeune is managing director of the European self-adhesive label association FINAT. The orga- nization, founded in Paris in 1958 and headquartered in The Hague (The Netherlands), is the worldwide association for manufacturers of self-adhesive labels and related products and services. With 600 members in more than 50 countries around the world, FINAT has much to offer to label converters and all suppliers in terms of information exchange and the opportunity to network internationally. www.finat.com. n www.flexomag.com year end 2012 Sustainable FLEXO 11
Earth Day 2013