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The burning problem

July 23, 2008

The burning problem
of waste
National and European authorities are always on the lookout for new ways to cut packaging waste, and label converters tremble every time a new restriction is announced. Now print and packaging expert Peter Prinz takes a close look at the problem as it concerns PS labels in Germany.
Matrix waste, according to Prinz, has a calorific value roughly half that of heating oil and can easily be burned, together with other waste materials, to provide heat, hot water or electrical power. Cement factories in particular are suited to burning matrix waste as the residual ash can be mixed into the cement. For filmic matrix waste there is still a major problem as none of the technically viable solutions has so far proved economically viable (although UPM Raflatac begs to disagree).
For siliconized release liners, the law in Germany requires the label converter to take back from his customer the used liner. Some do, most don’t. One manufacturer of liner takes back used material, charging a hefty $120 per ton. He then shreds it and uses it as fuel for his in-house power station. Prinz pleads for a “global” consensus, bringing together all the actors in the value chain to share information and ideas and to find the least costly solution. In Germany, this could work; in other more individualistic countries in Europe, the idea of voluntary recycling schemes is more problematic. (See page 72 for a feature article on label waste management.)