One of the highlights of the label industry’s year is the AWA Label Release Liner Industry Seminar, held annually just before the Labelexpo exhibition in both Europe and the USA. It attracts a high percentage of industry participants across the value chain who come to update their knowledge and to network.
This year’s event in Brussels, with Dow Corning and UPM as platinum sponsors and Blue Star Silicones and Wacker as gold sponsors, offered a complete programme, highlighting the key issues facing the label release liner segment. It represented an opportunity to discuss a combination of leading edge processing and converting practices, the status quo in recycling of spent label release liner, and the product identification and decoration technologies that today compete with pressure-sensitive labelling.
Setting the scene, Corey M Reardon, president and CEO of AWA Alexander Watson Associates, provided an overview of the global release liner market. Pressure-sensitive labelstock commands a 49 per cent share of global release liner usage, with food and beverage together representing 37 per cent of the end-use market.
Release liners are continuing to adapt to efficiency requirements for modern converting, as Mikko Rissanen, business development director of UPM Label Papers, showed.
The benefits of linerless pressure-sensitive labels were the subject of a lively panel discussion from Mike Cooper, business development director, Catchpoint Labels; Jakob Landberg, sales director of press manufacturers Nilpeter; and Jeffrey Arippol, president of Brazil-based label technology and converting specialists Novelprint.
Interesting insights emerged – particularly concerning what Landberg described as the ‘reuse of film liner as laminating film’. In this situation, spent clear film liner is adhesive coated in line and applied over the surface of the printed labels as a protective laminate, thus creating a genuine contribution to sustainability. Nilpeter has, said Landberg, “manipulated the press technology to accommodate this”. The ‘downside’ of linerless was raised by the audience: the fact that the label shapes which can successfully be achieved are limited to more or less simple rectangles. As Mike Cooper pointed out, clever design and print – particularly on clear film-based labels – makes this argument irrelevant today.
Overall, the AWA Label Release Liner Industry Seminar brought together, in just one day, the main threads of the opportunities and the challenges faced by the sector which has, as Corey Reardon underlines, “such a major influence on the world of packaging today”.