The traditional AWA release liner research seminar before Labelexpo took place on the 23rd of September the day before the show opened and it had two tracks. One was the stream on linerless trends and the other on liner trends. Sustainability is driving the linerless trend, one in which unsupported labelstocks are printed and converted. While this is a solution for doing away with silicone coated liners that are difficult to collect and de-siliconize it has certain constraints of label shapes and ease of use. Moreover, there are large label converters who dismiss this technology as not being viable yet although the benefits are that it doubles reel capacity and thereby lowers carbon footprint apart from doing away with the collection and desiliconizing of liners.
Release liner labelstock to dominate in Asia
Although one cannot dismiss the linerless technology (which we believe is fairly small at this point but which of course the AWA research trends linerless seminar would have illuminated further) we took part in the release liner seminar that we think will dominate at least the Indian market for the foreseeable future. While release liner has other applications apart from labels, it is dominated by labels. Of the 52.8 billion square meters produced, 49% is used for label stock production according to AWA’s figures.
The Asia Pacific leads in the growth of release liner at 6.3% and by implication in the production of labels. The price trend for liner papers is fairly benign although in recent months there has been a decline in liner prices to India, partly because of a softening in the price of pulp, which drives it according to one of the experts at the event.
Sustainability is key and possible
Sustainability was a key discussion topic at the seminar and it was made quite clear that it is possible to collect and de-siliconize used liner and repulp it for making liners for a variety of labelstocks. This seems to be one of the most relevant discussions and outcomes of the seminar for Indian brand owners and label converters. This is a discussion and conversation that has to take place to make both the manufacturing brands and label converters responsible. The alternatives are not pleasant – increasing legislation which as Indian industry knows can be sudden and often seemingly cataclysmic. An irresponsible and static industry unable to bring the stakeholders around the table will only face opprobrium from the public, harsh legislation, and stiffer audits from the hopefully growing number of brand owners who must shape up to their responsibility.