UPM Raflatac Embraces Journey For Sustainable Labeling

Several key trends have emerged as the label and packaging printing industry returns to face-to-face events. Attendees want to learn more about digital printing and automation. Sustainability and sustainable printing are not a luxury anymore. With major brands, such as Coca-Cola to Proctor & Gamble, establishing lofty sustainability goals, it is incumbent upon label suppliers to deliver the products necessary to facilitate these aspirations.

From inks, coatings to papers and film, suppliers have diligently worked to create products with a lower carbon footprint. UPM Raflatac has been a key driver in the industry’s quest for enhanced sustainability. The company is committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as well as initiatives such the Ellen MacArthur Foundation-led Global Plastics Pact.

UPM Raflatac also has a sustainability culture. The Biofore site concept is a way for employees to get involved in the larger goal of moving beyond fossil fuels. This is a major priority for the UPM company and an integral part of their UPM experience.

“UPM Raflatac’s ambition is to be the first label company to go beyond fossils,” explains Robert Taylor, sustainability director, UPM Raflatac. “That’s a big ambition and to achieve it we have fully integrated sustainability to our business strategy. We focus our efforts on providing product and service solutions that enable our customers and brands tackle the critical issues of climate and circularity.”

The company has also emphasized carbon neutrality. Its endeavors here can be seen in UPM Raflatac’s newest product lines. Taylor says that although this is a continuous process, the industry must continue to improve.

“There are very few carbon neutral or net positive packaging solutions available today,” he states. “However, climate change is happening; it’s a scientific fact. The effects of greenhouse gas emissions are becoming more obvious than ever before. They are now at higher levels than they were for hundreds of thousands years. We are driven and determined to do more than just fossils. We seek to reduce or replace fossil carbon sources, including those that are added to the carbon cycle.

“Our certified RAFNXT+ and Linerless products are examples of positive climate solutions. Even though these products are focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, they still have a significant climate impact that cannot easily be ignored. Therefore, we use green finance and invest in certified carbon offsets through carefully selected projects to compensate for the equivalent amount of greenhouse gas emissions,” adds Taylor. “Credible offsetting is vital to address stakeholder concern, but also to ensure it remains a tool we can use to get fossil CO2 out of the atmosphere – that’s the most important thing.”

UPM Raflatac has recently introduced its OptiCut linerless portfolio, which further encourages sustainable labeling. This portfolio has many benefits for a variety of markets including transport and warehousing and industrial food.   Linerless portfolio was designed to lower material costs by allowing for variable label lengths. The Linerless portfolio has a greater uptime, lower roll change rates, and lower storage/transport costs because it is over half as long as a standard roll. This portfolio allows converters to use portable printers at their sites, as they strive for greater efficiency in their plants. Finally, this portfolio touts no release liner waste – and less associated waste handling processes and costs. 

“We widened our OptiCut Linerless portfolio to enable brands to maximize efficiency and find solutions for each unique packaging type. The adhesive properties for each of our seven OptiCut products were designed for various application environments,” states Brinder Gill, director, Paper Laminates, UPM Raflatac Americas.

“With these designations, our Linerless product portfolio not only provides brands with increased efficiency, accuracy, and a reduction in waste, but also a certified carbon savings,” adds Gill.

UPM Raflatac, which monitors key societal trends, will continue to do so in the future to have greater positive effects on the planet. But, without the collaboration and support of all companies in the supply chain this effort will fail. “Population growth, climate, circularity and resource scarcity will remain the key trends, and companies like UPM Raflatac need to be providing the new solutions that meet societal needs,” comments Taylor. “We will continue to innovate beyond fossils, and we need more packaging value chain collaborations to do this. Only working together will we get a more sustainable future.”

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