Environmental issues of self-adhesive labels
Labels are information carriers that we take for granted in our daily lives. Express boxes, supermarket meat packaging, red wine bottles and other products can be seen everywhere. Try to imagine, if the labels all over the world are covered, how big will the area be? 66 billion square meters! It is equivalent to the sum of the area of Taiwan Province + Hainan Province. And these calculated tag quantities are only the usable part.
Due to technological reasons, in the actual production of self-adhesive labels, more than 30% of the label materials are directly wasted. As the substrate/release paper of self-adhesive labels, it is directly discarded by many label manufacturers because it has almost no use. Such a large area of material waste has had a certain impact on the global ecological environment.
Most self-adhesive label materials are produced from plastics that are difficult to degrade. If factories are allowed to produce them, the waste can only be incinerated or landfilled, which will not be conducive to the global demand for carbon reduction. However, due to the dependence of consumers on labels, it is impossible not to use label materials in our daily life. For example, if there is no label on the express box, it will be difficult for a large number of Taobao users to get cheap goods and fast mailing services.
So is there any way to reduce the pressure on the environment while maintaining the functionality of the label?
1. The more interesting way is to reduce the use of label materials
The so-called reduction is not not to use label materials, but to be more creative while maintaining functionality.
For example, the jam packaging in the picture below is very creative.
There are 5 flavors of the jam, and if each bottle required a label, there would be a lot of label waste. And in order to keep these bottles from being scattered during the handling process, they need to be packaged with plastic film. The designer adopted a creative way to combine color palette and jam. The information that originally needs to be printed on the label is printed on the wooden board, directly avoiding the use of the label. The wooden board also becomes a fixed container for jam, avoiding the use of plastic film. After eating these jams, consumers can also use it as storage supplies for other ingredients (such as various seasonings, beans), and can directly turn waste into treasure without any recycling process.
2. The more direct way is to recycle label waste
Just as Coca-Cola started producing easily recyclable plastic bottles, self-adhesive label waste, too, can support recycling.
In fact, most plastic materials can be recycled and reused, broken into recycled plastic particles, and then made into recycled products. Monolithic printing/die-cutting materials, liner and substrate waste can mostly be recycled. In order to recycle in a timely manner, waste-producing enterprises must increase their awareness of recycling when the die-cutting machine is in operation, and immediately classify and store the waste after the machine is discharged.
3. The more important way is to enhance the cognition of production enterprises
Consumers are not familiar with the characteristics of the material, nor do they know how the large amount of packaging material produced by the factory will be disposed of and what impact it will have on the environment. Therefore, it is very necessary to improve the awareness of manufacturing enterprises on the production side.
So, how to improve the company's awareness of label materials?
Since the circular economy has gradually become the consensus of the world's economic powers, many industry associations worldwide have been produced to promote countries from linear economy to circular economy.
For example, the European Self-adhesive Label Association (Finat) and the American Sign and Label Manufacturers Association (TLMI) are promoting association members to participate in the circular economy and promoting members' understanding and cooperation on environmental issues.
These associations are not government regulatory organizations. They are similar to industry self-regulatory associations. They raise awareness by building consensus, and spontaneously improve their own production processes and recycling processes.
In this trend, a new global alliance has emerged.
CELAB, the English full name is Circular Economy for Labels, and the Chinese name is Global Self-adhesive Circular Economy Alliance.
The alliance was formed by Avery Dennison and Dorcas, a global large-scale enterprise, and is committed to promoting the relevant knowledge and providing solutions for the recycling of self-adhesive die-cut waste and liner waste throughout the industry.
At present, Avery Dennison is promoting the ADC Circular Program in Thailand, Europe, Brazil, China and other countries and regions, which is a recycling project, helping label companies in various countries to achieve "zero waste landfill and waste conversion into new raw materials".
Recently, the founding meeting of the China Working Group on Promoting the Circular Economy of Self-adhesive Labels, which Avery Dennison is preparing to promote, was held in Jiangsu.
The task force's goal is to help reduce 95 percent of waste to landfill in the label industry's daily operations by 2025, allowing 75 percent of waste to be recycled or reused; Waste generated by the company's self-adhesive products.
Mr. Sun Xin, Director of Sustainable Development of Avery Dennison Labels and Packaging Materials, said:
"China's self-adhesive adhesive industry has entered a new historical journey, and the establishment of the working group brings us one step closer to a sustainable future. I look forward to more new members joining us."
Green Ring Recycling Resources also participated in the founding meeting. Chairman Wu Yang shared relevant waste treatment experience at the meeting, hoping to help companies realize the resource utilization of labels by establishing a more complete recycling network.
Green Ring Renewable Resources is a waste recycling solution provider with rich experience. In 2020, it recycled about 100,000 tons of waste plastics across the country, reducing carbon emissions by 230 tons.
Assuming that these materials are not recycled and are directly wasted, then 12,780 trees need to be planted in a year to absorb the carbon dioxide produced by the production of these waste materials.
Under the promotion of Green Ring Renewable Resources, more and more enterprises are participating in the overall situation of circular economy.
The factory can not only earn a fee through the sale of waste materials, but also improve the overall environmental protection awareness of the factory, and fulfill its responsibility for my country's historical goals of reaching carbon peak in 2030 and carbon neutrality in 2060.
A small label contains a big pattern of environmental protection.