Labels: Adding Value to Packaging
In papers, the manufacturers have more limited opportunities to downgauge, but are concentrating on specialties, such as wash-off labelstocks for bottles, security papers embedded with forensic and other taggants, and wine label laminates offering “ice bucket” performance. The proven recyclability of glassine release liner is now beginning to encourage the continuing use of paper labelstocks.
At the same time, the skills of the papermaker are being increasingly employed in the “cradle-to-cradle” repulping of glassine release liner. It is a sad fact of life, however, that the label industry and its customers have yet to fully take advantage of such schemes: their commercial capacity has not yet been filled. It is important to add that the remainder of the waste stream created by converting self-adhesive labels—namely the matrix waste—has yet to find a cradle-to-cradle solution, although, as has been proven over a number of years, it can be successfully used in industrial incinerators for waste-to-energy recycling.
The continuing popularity of the “no-label look” is not the only driver for film usage in self-adhesive labels today. Film release liner, PET or PP, is becoming increasingly popular. The combination of film facestock and film liner enables serious downgauging of label laminate—to deliver more labels per reel and fewer roll changes on press and on the labeling line—resulting in significant time and cost savings.
However, it is in the realms of film that self-adhesive labels today see their greatest competition. As stated, film-based shrink sleeve labels, stretch and wrap-around sleeves, and in-mold labels are enjoying faster growth rates. Yet, these technologies are opportunities as well as threats, and self-adhesive label converters are embracing the concept of one-stop shopping—offering their customers not only the self-adhesive path, but also the non-adhesive technologies that can be profitably and ably printed on their narrow-web presses.