European converters looks to niche growth

When two years ago at the FINAT congress in Turkey, a presentation was made on ‘cradle-to-cradle’ thinking, the speaker was widely dismissed as an idealist, or even a crank. Today, cradle to cradle is fast becoming the new orthodoxy, championed by the chair of Finat’s Sustainability committee, Herma’s Dr Thomas Baumgartner. ‘If the EU re-categorizes liner waste as ‘packaging’ waste this will have a negative impact on our industry. We must get rid of this negative image and use these high value materials again.’

Commenting on the Cycle4Green (C4G) glassine liner recovery system, Dr Baumgartner said C4G has agreed to collect paper liner waste for free if it is over three tons. ‘This amount requires only six to eight stacked Europallets, so requires only two to three Europallets space.’ The material is delivered to Lenzing in Austria, which carries out the de-siliconization and makes the recovered paper available for the manufacture of new label papers. ‘The glassine and Kraft liners must be sorted and clean. There is a five day notice period for collecting containers and Lenzing does all paperwork for cross border traffic,’ said Baumgartner. Current capacity at Lenzing is 50,000 tons, but this can be increased. ‘It is very important to support these systems,’ he concluded. ‘But we have to include the whole process chain, since the big quantities are at the label end users. It is the printer’s job to contact their customers and Lenzing directly.’

UPM Raflatac also announced a major paper liner recycling initiative with French company Vertaris. Vertaris already produces fine paper from mixed office waste and will now handle the de-siliconization of glassine waste and deliver it back to UPM as raw material for use in both label and liner manufacture.

Vertaris has a capacity of 200,000 tons, ‘enough to absorb all the material we can collect,’ said Erkki Nyberg, UPM-Kymmene director, business development, Engineered Materials Business Group. The collection system will operate throughout Europe. ‘The technology is now tested and we can use our own logistics system for liner collection. Now we need to find enough companies to use the service, as they too will gain financial benefits,’ said Nyberg.

UPM Raflatac already operates a filmic liner recovery system called Rafcycle, which pays up to 370 euros per tonne for clean PP filmic liner waste – providing a minimum tonnage can be collected. ‘Oil price rises and increased demand in the developing world mean that using recycled liner waste as a raw material will become more and more important,’ said Nyberg.

For the last five years UPM has been converting its own film liner waste into ‘Profi’ wood composite, a building material with 40-70 percent label waste content. This year the project started to receive customer waste for the first time. ‘We also use labelstock waste as fuel in combined heat and power plants.’


Association for the label industry