AWA – Latest overview of the label release liner market Part 2

BELGIUM • Pressure-sensitive labels still claiming a 40% share of the total label market, and label release liner – constituting a 49% share of global release liner usage – growing at around 4% per year. Liner usage for tapes, medical, and industrial applications are growing much faster. Read the second part of the AWA session report with the annual industry update on release liner for pressure-sensitive labels.

After a day full of market overview, a presentation to topics such as the current silicone trends, the latest in-house hybrid lamination technology and converter benefits, the second day of the AWA annual industry update on release liner for pressure-sensitive labels started again with AWA’s president and CEO Corey Reardon. Co-located with Labelexpo Europe the session was opened with a focus on label release liner sustainability and recycling.


Reardon believes that this topic “is going to be one of the finite issues over the next  ten years – and when you’re talking about recycling in the label segment, you’re not just talking about one liner substrate!”


General manager of the company Reculiner Eric van Pottelbergh explained that the RecuLiner concept is based on dry grinding of paper-based liner, mostly without removal of silicone, and using existing equipment options. The resultant material is currently used as thermal and sound insulation in buildings, and in horticulture as a soil improver to maintain moisture balance and nutrient storage, but there are, of course, many other possible end-use markets where such requirements are a feature. For the future, he proposed a co-operative business model spanning the entire label value chain.


Sustainable, safe, simple silicone solutions were the five “S” words discussed by Sébastien Marrot, technical sales manager for Elkem Silicones’ Silcolease Release Coatings. “Silicones”, he summarised, “are net contributors to sustainability initiatives by enabling reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at all stages of production and use, improved energy efficiency, increased efficiency of raw material utilization; and extended product lifecycles.”

Global Release Liner Market by Segment 2016 (Source: AWA)


A portrait of global label waste activity

Avery Dennison’s global procuremment director for materials Warren Lloyd continued by talking about the company’s profile in the environmental arena. Avery Dennison recently commissioned a research study from AWA Alexander Watson Associates dedicated to current release liner and matrix waste recycling/re-use practices around the world.

Label industry environmental drivers

The social, economic, and regulatory drivers influencing the development of release liners were examined by Mikko Rissanen, business development director for UPM Specialty Papers. Today’s circular economy  requires avoiding the generation of waste, material and product re-use, replacing fossil-based fuels and raw materials with renewable alternatives;  and adding value through “smart” solutions. Rissanen cited UPM’s recycled glassine release liner base as an example of environmental responsibility within the pressure-sensitive label value chain. He quoted statistics from McKinsey & Co on the global flows of plastic packaging material of which, annually, only 2% go for closed-loop recycling, while some 32% end up in the “plastic ocean” that features widely today in general news bulletins.

Industry polyolefin circular economy platform

The Polyolefin Circular Economy Platform, PCEP, founded by three plastics industry associations – EuPC, Plastics Europe, and Plastics Recylers Europe – then had the opportunity to respond. Herman van Roost, chairman of the Communications Group, detailed the group’s joint industry value chain initiative.   With a to-do list featuring increasing recycling of polyolefin-based packaging and the use of polyolefin recyclates as raw material to ensure the long-term sustainability of such products, the PCEP is combining its competencies:   polymer science, recycling, and plastic conversion. Van Roost underlined the strategic goals of the initiative, including enhanced collection and sorting of packaging waste, which represents a major source of polyolefin recyclate, and introduced the currently-active workgroups, which span such topics as innovation for increased recycling of flexible packaging;  end-use markets for polyolefin recyclates, and technology innovations to improve mechanical recycling and conversion.

Creating momentum

Creating momentum in the field of label release liner recycling was the topic appropriately addressed by Mark Macaré, public affairs and recycling project group manager for the international self-adhesive label association FINAT. The association’s agenda is focussed on the need for frictionless logistics solutions and opportunities for cost savings to drive interest and, critically, to achieve environmental benefits.   Along with the “brand owner bottleneck”, he underlined, these targets must be achieved through the label industry itself “leading by example”.

Setting the context with data on the legislative and external pressures that characterise the current situation, Macaré showed how FINAT is creating awareness  through its information package of literature, online services, LCA results and relevant industry statistics.  This baseline reference source is coupled with a program of industry events. “Spread the message, spread the initiative, and start recycling”, he finished the final presentation of the seminar.

AWA Alexander Watson Associates will host their major release liner industry event, the 2018 Global Release Liner Conference and Exhibition in Amsterdam, 14-16 February.

Read part 1 of the report of this event in this post!

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