A pioneering waste disposal project to turn discarded release liners into paper hand towels in India has begun. It follows cooperation between Skanem, a large European group of self-adhesive label converters, and Maratech, part of the Channeled Resources Group based in Marathon City, WI, USA.
Like many other converters, the group was concerned about finding a useful method of disposing of silicone coated backing paper. “Calvin Frost, a committed ecologist and founder and chief executive of Channeled Resources, was keen to join us in this scheme by acting as the facilitator for the recycling,” says David Harrisson, multinational sales director of Skanem, which is headquartered in Stavanger, Norway. “The waste paper is collected, put in containers and shipped to India, where it is pulped and turned into the sort of paper towels you find in dispensers in hotels or aircraft toilets. It is an ideal solution to a major problem.”
“For some reason European recyclers have been loath to handle self-adhesive label liners because of the silicone,” adds Frost. “They have the same machinery and processes as we have in the USA, where we have no problems in pulping this waste. The silicone is stripped off the paper and disposed of with the normal liquid waste — it is not toxic — and then the paper pulp is recycled in the normal way. The mathematics of the costs for doing this add up and produce a small profit, which makes the operation worthwhile.”
Harrisson concludes: “We believe that this cooperation is unique in our industry, but it shows that with commitment, suppliers, customers and recyclers can work together and create a solution that is beneficial to the planet. Until now this waste has been thought of by some as a problem. We have shown that it can be a benefit.