UPM Raflatac’s President on sustainability: Doing nothing is not an option

President of UPM Raflatac Jussi Vanhanen addressed the self-adhesive label industry with facts regarding the depletion of the world’s resources and the inevitable raw material inflation. “In these circumstances it is more important than ever for the industry to focus its efforts on the efficient use of raw materials and resources. Doing nothing is not an option.”

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Vanhanen spoke to the leaders of global labelstock associations in Tokyo on April 3, 2012. His presentation was part of an L9 initiative aiming to stimulate global awareness and collaboration for recycling and sustainability in the self-adhesive labelstock industry. L9 is the informal global platform which brings together nine leading regional trade associations for the self-adhesive label and narrow web converting industry.

"Major brand owners and retailers are asking for accurate and case-specific information concerning the environmental performance of self-adhesive products and the factories producing them", Vanhanen said and invited the self-adhesive labelstock industry to lead the development of harmonization for its raw material suppliers’ environmental reporting under the umbrella of the L9 associations. The Paper Profile, developed and used by graphic paper manufacturers with the industry associations, was presented as a good example of similar development.

The main factors influencing the global warming potential of labelstock products, throughout their lifecycles, are the raw materials and the end-of-life treatment of labelstock waste. Vanhanen highlighted practical means for label printers to reduce their environmental impact, most important of these being the selection of substrates, thin and light labelstock components and sustainable end-of-life treatment. He invited label printers and end-users to join labelstock suppliers in supporting the efficient use of raw materials and resources by promoting environmentally sound solutions.

Viable recycling uses for labelstock waste streams were identified as the main bottleneck to increasing recycling rates. UPM has made substantial investments to innovate and develop viable solutions for labelstock waste streams. The RafCycle® labelstock waste management concept makes use of labelstock by-products from all stages of the labelstock lifecycle. The recycled waste is given a new life as UPM ProFi® wood-plastic composite products, paper or energy. Vanhanen concluded his speech by inviting the industry to innovate new uses for labelstock waste to expand recycling globally.

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