A circular economy business model for self-adhesive labels

The weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

FINAT the association for the self-adhesive label industry in Europe has announced CELAB-Europe. The organisation is a European consortium set up to develop a circular economy business model for self-adhesive label materials in Europe. It was founded by four companies including Arconvert-Ritrama part of the Fedrigoni Group Arconvert-Ritrama, Avery Dennison, Herma and UPM Raflatac and is hosted by FINAT.

The objective with this latest industry consortium is to identify and scale recycling and re-use opportunities for the group’s target markets: self-adhesive label liner and matrix materials. There is even a deadline for developing the new circular economy, so that over 75% of used liner and matrix materials are recycled or re-used by 2025.

According to CELAB-Europe this project has the full support of the European self-adhesive sector. This is the first time that all major players in the self-adhesive labels business have organised to develop a network that cooperates. They hope to bring together and represent the interests of different recycling capacities and production processes in different markets. They will look for commonalities and to establish new sustainable business models that work locally in concert with other areas.

This will be difficult to achieve, not least because there will be high technical hurdles to clear. The diversity of printing methods and different recycling technologies will make it hard to establish commonalities. However, the promotion of recycling processes and the building of recycling supply chains should help spur progress. So far 20 “very important players” have expressed an interest to support the project. These include raw materials producers and label producers.

Reinvention is a difficult process so coming together to form a collective is a good idea. The self-adhesive labels sector, like any other area of print, is under threat from alternatives that do not use paper and laminates, such as laser labelling and new printing and packaging technologies that don’t need labels. The need for labels isn’t going to go away, but the need for so many may be in decline.

How well CELAB-Europe achieves its objectives depends on the level of investment the members are willing to make. Understanding stakeholders’ concerns, communicating with consumers and the media, research and development, meetings to set objectives and track progress will all require resources and budget from management and business owners to go beyond lip service.

Any efforts to create circular economies for print media are more than welcome. It is especially encouraging that so many companies have come together on this initiative. They are doing something to protect their future business interests, and to make a difference to print’s environmental impact. That the need for sustainability is recognised and being acted on is a big step forward.

– Laurel Brunner

This article was produced by the Verdigris Project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa GraphicsEFIFespaFujifilmHPKodakMiraclonRicohSpindrift, Splash PRUnity Publishing and Xeikon.