Interview was conducted by Rosina Obermayer | Gallus
Is there a way for label printers and converters to produce a self-adhesive label in a sustainable way? Label-Experts.com talks to Jenny Wassenaar, Compliance and Sustainability Director at Avery Dennison, about the supplier`s definition of sustainability and what print shops can do to be more sustainable.
The demand for sustainable products is growing with the increasing awareness of consumers. Customers of printing companies are asking more and more for sustainable labels. What can a label printer and converter do to be more sustainable?
Jenny Wassenaar: Sustainability has become much more about whole system thinking. Historically there has been a focus mainly on the materials, such as using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper and reduced material consumption. That’s still important, but now the emphasis is really on the whole life cycle of packaging. For example, how can you reduce materials in the original design? How can you ensure the packaging can be recycled? And how can you manage the waste created through the production of the labeling and packaging? While we have portfolios of materials made with recycled content, a large part of our focus is on thinking holistically about our supply chain to reduce overall waste, increase recyclability and innovate to zero.
Is there a sustainable way to produce a self-adhesive label?
Jenny Wassenaar: Since 2014, Avery Dennison has been working to reach a set of sustainability goals by 2025. This applies to everything from the raw materials we use to the films and papers we source. f For example, we are committed to ensuring that 100% of the paper we source is certified claim paper.At our factories, we are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3% year over year, and our operations will be 95 percent landfill-free, with at least 75 percent of waste being reused, repurposed or recycled.
What is your definition of being sustainable in the label industry?
Jenny Wassenaar: Eight decades of global manufacturing leadership has taught us the importance of reinventing and improving the materials and products we make for the labeling industry — and other industries that are part of our business — so that we can use our influence to help address the social and environmental challenges of our time. This is at the heart of how we define sustainability. But specifically, being sustainable means acknowledging the need to transition to more circular practices to “reduce, reuse, and recycle” in our operations and in the products we make. We are doing this by:
- inventing materials that improve the recyclability of consumer goods,
- increasing the amount of recycled content used in our products, and
- building a global system for recycling used labeling and packaging materials.
How could a label printer and converter approach the problem of label waste, especially matrix, and its recycling?
Jenny Wassenaar: We are constantly working within our ecosystem to find sustainable innovations that enable us to produce more efficient and less impactful products. Matrix waste is challenging in the fact that it is constructed of a combination of materials – the paper core, paper/film substrate and the adhesive – but the great news is that matrix waste, and liner waste, can both be recycled. Some of these recyclers can be found on our online recycler map (available here).
What could a supplier do for making narrow web applications more sustainable?
Jenny Wassenaar: Our supply partners are key in achieving our sustainability goals, which is why we have partnered with EcoVadis to operate a collaborative dashboard to provide sustainability ratings and performance improvement tools for global supply chains. This ensures that we have transparency across our value chain, and enables us to make collective sustainable improvements in how our products are manufactured. In addition, our supply partners are focused on sustainable innovation, such as increasing the percentage of recycled content or developing alternative grades that make thinner constructions possible. Ecosystem innovation is important to Avery Dennison as it is clear that to really drive change across the whole value chain we need to be collaborating much more across the industry – so we are always open to ideas!