The evergreen arch-guru Mike Fairley will be taking the chair in several of these master classes, seconded by the scarcely less eminent Andy Thomas. In addition, visitors to the Brussels show can inspect the range of books now offered by the Label Academy (including one researched and written by your correspondent – who will not be signing copies at the Brussels show, sorry).
Paper is good – but not always
Hard hit by the digital revolution, the European paper industry has been running a publicity campaign to show how environmentally friendly it is when compared with those nasty plastics. Fortunately, not much publicity has been devoted to the Stora Enso paper mill near Ghent in Belgium. An outbreak of Legionnaires disease brought the Flemish health sleuths to the area, and they think they have finally nailed the culprit.
Without admitting liability, mill manager Chris de Hollander says, “The mill is taking measures such as sampling and disinfecting facilities in close cooperation with the authorities and international Legionella experts. In addition to the required disinfections, we have decided to stop the cooling tower to do a thorough, one-time offline cleaning and disinfection. The cooling tower will be started again with strict monitoring by mill operations and supporting experts after inspection and approval by the Flemish Care and Health Agency.”
Some sources have suggested that the outbreak might have been started by the processing of recycled paper, but other sources have emphasized that the disease is in no way associated with recycled materials.
Plastic is getting ever-greener
Recycled plastic is difficult stuff to process, not easy to print and not always pleasing to the eye, but two German companies reckon they have cracked the problem. Labelstock producer Herma and converter schäfer-etiketten worked with PE film specialist Polifilm to perfect what they say is the world’s first label printed on 100% recycled PE film. Half of the “raw material” for the labelstock originates from industrial waste, and the other half from the single-use PE commonly found in household trashcans, typically in the form of plastic bottles and other packaging waste.
“This novel label material prints very well no matter what the technique, from flexo and offset to screen and digital printing,” reports Volker Hurth, who is in charge of schäfer-etiketten’s cosmetic label business. Herma is likewise delighted with the outcome. Ulli Nägele, Herma’s head of development, comments, “The material responds well to coating, and the conventional roll sizes can be fabricated without any constraints.” What’s more, Herma’s double-layer adhesive technology means that smaller batches of labelstock can be produced to meet customers’ individual adhesion and separation requirements.
This new PE label film made from recycled waste is white, but on closer inspection so-called “gels” are visible. “These are tiny specks that arise during the recycling process and cannot be entirely avoided,” explains Volker Hurth of schäfer-etiketten. “On the other hand, they give the label material an ‘authentic character’ and signal to end users that it has genuinely been produced from recycled waste. The new label is therefore ideal for brands owners who generally want their packaging materials to reflect a commitment to sustainability.”
Herma is not by any means alone in the recycling stakes. Avery Dennison launched a labelstock with liner made of recycled materials, and more recently added a face material also using only recycled polyethylene. Warning that recycled materials contain more impurities than virgin plastics, Avery Dennison warns of the “particular aesthetics” of the new substrate. Avery Dennison is also promoting its “easy wash-off” labels, which make it easier to recycle both plastic and glass packaging and increase yields of higher-value recycled material. Both Herma and Avery Dennison plan to present their recycled labelstock at Labelexpo Europe.
A crowded events calendar
As most readers of L&NW will know, Labelexpo Europe 2019 will take place from September 24-27. They will also know that this year’s label show is muscling in heavily on the printed packaging sector. It is surprising in the circumstances that one of Europe’s biggest packaging shows, Fachpack, is being held at exactly the same time, and just a few hundred miles down the road in Nuremberg. A journalist who keeps his ear close to the ground in Germany told your correspondent, “The German label converters will be choosing Fachpack over Labelexpo this year.”
True? Well, yes and no. Over 100 label converters will exhibit at the German show, along with Domino, AstroNova, Spilker and other equipment manufacturers, most of whom will also be present at the Brussels show. But the smart money is on Labelexpo, which whether we like it or not, is the one show few people in the label business can afford to miss, either as visitors or exhibitors.
Always something new out of Israel
The ecological road to heaven is paved with good inventions. Many of them involve environmentally-friendly plastics. The reasonable man may ask, “If they’re so good, why isn’t everyone using them?” To which the answer is usually that they either don’t perform well, or cost too much, or aren’t as green as they’re made out to be.
Now from a company in Israel comes news of a filmic material which, according to the manufacturer, meets the specifications brands and converters are looking for in both food and non-food sectors. The company is called Tipa, and it says its packaging products are partly and in some cases mainly bio-based, and in all cases fully compostable and with similar mechanical and optical properties to conventional, flexible plastic packaging.
Made from several (undisclosed) materials, it offers transparency, flexibility, sealing strength, durability, barrier and shelf life. What’s more, within six months of being thrown away it turns into compost to make your roses grow. If this range of packaging materials works as well as the manufacturer claims, it could solve several problems at a stroke. No longer needed, the West ships its plastic waste to Asian countries that don’t want it (and even threaten to declare war, as the president of the Philippines did to Canada in what must surely be the most bizarre threat this year).
There is still the problem of sorting through the garbage, and this will be with us for a while, however optimistic the assumptions on compostable plastics. The poor consumer in Europe at least can only just cope with four segregated trashcans. Add two more (for consumer-compostable and industrial-compostable packaging), and resignation and indifference will set in.
The Death of Grass
There has been much talk in the press (and in this column) of novel face materials for pressure sensitive labels. In Europe, grass paper was a front-runner. Less so since Mayday of this year when Scheufelen, the German manufacturer of the stuff, went into liquidation. After a first insolvency last year, Scheufelen, a maker of specialty coated papers, saw grass paper as its way to broad and sunny uplands. Alas, it was not to be.
Customers in the label and packaging business did not beat a path to Scheufelen’s door, and 100 employees are now looking for other employment.
The new gentleman of Verona Fedrigoni, one of Europe’s leading paper and packaging producers, was acquired by Bain Capital six months ago. The new owner put in Marco Nespolo as CEO, and first reports indicate that he is not doing too badly.
The Fedrigoni group, which comprises labelstock producers Arconvert and Manter, is headquartered in the Northern Italian city of Verona. In the fiscal year to March 2019, group sales worldwide were €1.18 billion ($1.35 billion), up 9% on the previous year. The group’s annual report singles out the labelstock business as a bright star in Fedrigoni’s constellation.
The group’s security printing sector was down, but it has high hopes of winning a lucrative contract to print euro notes. This, the CEO hopes, will revive the adjusted EBITDA (down from €150 to €137 million in 2018) and send it swinging up again in the current fiscal year. Moral: if you want to make money, make money.