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Environment agency

July 18, 2005

An ability to produce linerless labels could be a timely
development for UK label converters if some proposed
government legislation is adopted. It all stems
from the fact that siliconized release liners in the cradle-tograve
waste chain are a big problem when it comes to disposal.
After all, liners make up nearly 60 percent of total
pressure sensitive process waste per year in most developed
markets. In terms of disposal within proposed national or
international environmental legislation there are certain
“points of obligation.” In simple terms, who picks up the tab
for disposal (recycling or incineration for energy) with the
overall aim of keeping such waste out of landfill sites?
When the UK’s Producer Responsibility Obligations
(Packaging Waste) Regulations were introduced in 1997 to
implement the European Union’s Packaging Waste Directive,
labels were classed only as “packaging” at the point at
which the label was applied to an item. At the time the
Environment Agency (EA) ruled that backing/release paper
was exempt from the regulations as its main role was in
label manufacture. Now it has changed its mind. Within a
complex formula, the EA proposes that the label converter
should have a 48 percent responsibility under a “seller”
classification, i.e., the selling of packaging to the final user
who applies labels to packaged items. That’s on top of a 9
percent obligation in respect of label laminates as a whole.
The EA’s proposed changes — which naturally affect UK
laminate manufacturers — have predictably created some
angry responses. Sue Bridger, manager of special interests
group at the British Printing Industries Federation, confirms
that a lobbying campaign has begun. “The EA has
backtracked on what it said four years ago, so we are urging
our 55 converter members to contact their members of
Parliament. If approved, the EA’s decision could seriously
handicap UK producers with a European customer base,
especially at a time when the pound is strong. It will certainly
put jobs at risk throughout the entire UK label manufacturing
and converting industry.”
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