Successfully Recycling Release Paper
Despite being mostly discarded as waste, this material is ideally suited for recycling, which is not only climate-friendly but also counteracts current shortages of certain raw materials. For the seventh year in succession, self-adhesive materials expert Hema from Filderstadt, Germany, has effectively equalised the CO2 emissions of its entire 79-vehicle fleet by collecting release liner for recycling. According to Cycle4Green's (C4G) certification, Herma collected about 217 tonnes of discarded release liner from self-adhesive materials production for a special recycling process in 2017. With the assistance of C4G and paper manufacturer Lenzing, this is again turned into label paper or release liner, both of which are reused by Herma. Manufacturing the same amount of product from virgin fibre would have increased CO2 emissions by about 439 tonnes. By comparison, the family company's fleet generated CO2 emissions of only just under 415 tonnes.
Raw material shortages are increasing
"By participating in this recycling program, we not only make an important contribution to preserving the environment. We also somewhat counteract current resource shortages. Due to extreme demand in Asia, especially China, and continuing growth in Europe, we are facing resource shortages, for instance regarding paper," explains Dr. Thomas Baumgärtner, Herma’s managing director and head of the Self-Adhesive Materials Division. The German Association of Manufacturers of Self-Adhesive Labels and Narrow Web Converters e.V. (VskE, Verband der Hersteller selbstklebender Etiketten und Schmalbahnconverter), has confirmed this development, pointing out the consequences: "All major cellulose producers worldwide have raised their prices per tonne, some of them even several times."
Since 2010, the self-adhesive materials specialist based in Filderstadt, near Stuttgart, has been supplying C4G with discarded release liner from production. "We must be prepared for resources to become even scarcer in the future," says Dr. Thomas Baumgärtner. "I therefore appeal to all label printers and users to participate in the C4G recycling initiative. It is worth it – not only for the climate, but also because it curbs the great price hikes for raw materials."
C4G organises the collection of discarded release liners in a large number of European countries. Lenzing, a pioneer of eco-friendly paper manufacturing, undertakes the recycling. C4G collects a minimum quantity of five tonnes of material from wherever it is generated anywhere in Europe, without costs being incurred, on condition that the waste is sorted into different materials. Approximately 360,000 tonnes of siliconised release paper is generated every year throughout the EU, the bulk of which comes from within companies applying labels.