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16 May 2023

What opportunities does linerless bring?

For nearly a century, pressure-sensitive labels have proven themselves many times over as an effective, economical, and versatile solution. As an element of modern packaging, they are indispensable. Yet 50% of a pressure-sensitive label - its release liner and matrix - immediately becomes waste material upon application. We’re applying our global capacity for innovation to help lead the packaging industry towards a linerless future. 

Label waste - the liner and matrix leftover after labels are applied - has been a challenge for the labeling industry for decades. Each year, millions of tons of label waste are sent to landfills and incinerators. Recycling programs like Avery Dennison Circular and industry efforts like CELAB can reduce label waste. But the best solution - for our industry and for the planet - is to ultimately eliminate liners altogether.  

Wayne Middleton, Avery Dennison: 'We believe the best time for change is right now.  That’s why we’re taking an incremental approach to developing linerless decorative labels that will put solutions in the hands of converters and brands as soon as possible.' 

Linerless offers a concrete answer to the market’s increasing demand for sustainable products with a lower environmental impact. Linerless products reduce our carbon footprint through all the value chain since they have no release liner.

One of the main challenges that companies in the Food and Logistics or Warehousing sector face is the need to increase productivity rates to gain competitiveness, while also reducing associated costs, both in stock management and waste management. The possibilities offered by Linerless products are wide and diverse, highlighting: a greater efficiency during printing and labelling processes by having more material per roll, a lower number of items in stock and the reduction of transport costs or waste management fees.

E-Commerce, Retail and Food Delivery are synonymous with personalization, as differentiated labels are adapted to the customer through variable printing. Direct Thermal Linerless offers the opportunity to make each article unique with specific information and adjusted to the necessary label size.

Films labels are widely utilized in the Food Packaging, Beverage and Home/Personal Care segments. Primary Linerless like Wrap/Sleeve and Core Linerless Solutions leverage the environmental advantages and offer a high consistency in the labelling lines needed to keep the efficiencies. 

Miquel Prieto, Fedrigon: 'The introduction of new technologies in a highly competitive environment requires collaboration and cooperation between all players in the value chain. This allows suppliers to address the new challenges and unlock the benefits that Linerless products offer at a greater scale.  Linerless brings a great opportunity to strengthen added value relationships.'

As the saying goes “necessity is the mother of invention” and label manufacturing is a prime example of how an industry can grow and evolve to meet the changing requirements of both industry and consumers. Evidence of this change is everywhere, from new manufacturing equipment and processes to new substrates and materials. The rapid pace of technological and social change that society is experiencing has amplified the need for innovative thinking. Technology has changed the way we live, consume and work and the impact on business is evident everywhere you look. Opportunities that did not exist 5 or 10 years ago arise daily and those that react first reap the rewards via higher market share and improved operating results. Several years ago our business created a linerless product that addressed a problem that many of our customers knew that they had however they were just beginning to appreciate what the true impact that it had on their business. The rapid rise in custom orders “made for you”, online ordering and home delivery was adding tremendous levels of complexity to businesses which traditionally had focused on process simplicity and product standardization. Order accuracy and product safety and security started receiving heightened levels of scrutiny and importance within these organizations as they began to develop processes that reduced the costs associated with incorrect orders and lost customers. 

Mark Caines, Iconex: 'Providing products that performed consistently well under an extreme range of conditions and addressed these concerns has become a growing opportunity for our organization. By leveraging linerless in a manner that solved our customer problems we have created a high value-added product that is contributing to label growth as a category.'

Vincent Tinnacher, UPM: 'At UPM Raflatac we see Direct Thermal Linerless as a cost-efficient and sustainable alternative to traditional label stock. DT Linerless has quickly gained ground in the past years and we are confident that this trend will continue in the coming years as there is a clear need for sustainable solutions and efficiency. The development in our DT Linerless range already started 10 years ago in a small scale and we have lately invested in a 100 million m² new production line to be ready for the current market needs.

Sustainability and efficiency are key benefits of DT Linerless and we see this as an ideal solution in retail, food and logistics labeling as well as any other applications where optimal thermal printability and performance is required. Our full product range is developed and designed to match the needs in those end use areas. With DT Linerless labels around 40 % less paper is needed compared to pressure-sensitive label materials with liner, while maintaining the same scanning and traceability properties as linered labels and that brings savings in material and processing. DT Linerless labels can also be cut to any length, lowering the material costs by reducing the need to stock a variety of sizes while consolidating stock keeping units. Due to the absence of a liner more labels fit on a roll which increases the uptime as the need for roll changes is reduced and minimize storage with up to three quarters more running meters per roll. Using DT linerless materials also eliminates the handling and processing of the disposal of liner waste.

UPM Raflatac Linerless products carbon footprint calculation has been certified by the Carbon Trust against the PAS 2050 standard. While we continue to reduce our carbon footprint, we also compensate for the unavoidable GHG emissions through projects that reduce or avoid carbon emissions. The whole linerless product range is certified as CarbonNeutral® by Climate Impact Partners.'

These are some of the insights from our linerless panel that will discuss the state of the union on linerless labels at the FINAT European Label Forum 2023 in Vienna. Want to know more? Make sure to register today and attend the #FINAT23 event!