Is now the time for linerless?

By Steve Katz, Editor | January 28, 2014

Both awareness and emphasis are on the rise.

I’ve been thinking a lot about linerless labels. In my most recent editorial for L&NW, I posed the question, “Could 2014 be the year for linerless labels?” Lo and behold, the very next day I received a press release from label converter I.D. Images, announcing an emphasis the company will be placing on its linerless label offerings. I’m no clairvoyant, though I did feel pretty good about this little coincidence.

Coming out of 2013’s Labelexpo in Brussels, one of the headlines came from Ritrama’s stand, when the supplier announced a partnership with Prati and Ilti on its new Core Linerless Solutions system, targeting high-volume end users in the beverage and personal care markets. “We see Core Linerless as being an evolution of pressure sensitive technology and not a replacement,’ said Ritrama President Tomas Rink at the time.

For linerless to success, the sentiment in Rink’s thinking must catch on. It’s about a paradigm shift, and it’s about time.

While consumers are constantly bombarded with green claims and promises from brand owners, linerless labeling represents a process that is significantly greener that “linered” labels. Release liner is waste. Period.

I first researched linerless labels in 2008. I was new to the industry and tasked with writing a feature article on the subject. If I recall, finding information was not easy. Today, just five years later, a google search brings a lot more results – more products, more technologies, and more suppliers (like Ritrama) – who are taking it seriously.

Last week, another press release came in about linerless, this time from Canada-based ETI Converting. The company announced a new patent surrounding a technology that manufactures and applies linerless labels without compromising shape – a factor that has impeded linerless progress.

I believe the key to linerless labeling’s future lies in education. It remains to be seen how fast and to what extent linerless will catch on, but it is clear there are more conversations about it and at the very least, awareness is growing.