Amorphous but vocal anti-packaging movements exist in many European countries, and nowhere more vocal than in the UK. As a result package and label suppliers as well as retailers are falling over each other in the rush to demonstrate that they are greener than green. This has led a number of equipment manufacturers to revive that Loch Ness Monster of the label industry, the linerless label. Pago, one of Europe’s leading makers of labeling equipment, has just launched a high speed applicator for linerless labels. Craig Peachey, Managing Director of Pago’s UK branch, went on record as saying that linerless labels are increasingly important as they produce less waste and are therefore perceived as being more environmentally friendly. Another player in the linerless sector is the UK’s Industrial Labelling Systems Ltd., which has developed a linerless print-and-apply system using a thermal transfer printer and tamp/blow applicator. It prints labels up to 4"x4" at speeds of 11" per second.
Home-compostable labels and packaging feature often in the popular press in England, and major retailers and brand owners are pressing their packaging suppliers to move to (more expensive) compostable or biodegradable materials without (of course) increasing their prices. Systems Labelling is one of the UK firms producing home-compostable face materials for labels. Major UK retailer Sainsbury is taking a lead in attracting the “green” shopper. The company’s CEO, Justin King, said recently, “The old-style packaging and labels on most of our products will be progressively replaced by the use of maize, sugar cane or starch based materials. This means it can naturally break down in a garden compost heap, eradicating the need for packaging to be binned or bagged and sent to landfill. We urge the government to ensure that every home in Britain has a compost bin.”
Britain is, of course, a nation of gardeners, but a straw poll conducted by your correspondent revealed not one householder who was putting the new style packaging and labels into a compost bin.