Sticker attachments have recently seen a rise in popularity. However, the glues used in stickers have caused problems in the paper recycling process. The problem is not a new one but has become more notable as the quantity of sticker material attached to printed products has increased.
Enhancing recyclability was a key target when UPM Raflatac, UPM Communication Papers and UPM’s Central European Research Centre joined forces.
“The glue deposits from sticker material create holes in the produced paper and lead to breaks in the paper web, which is the paper running through the paper machine. For UPM and other paper producers who use recycled, deinked fibres, this leads to a loss of production and, of course, wastes valuable, sustainable, recycled fibre,” explains Johann Oberndorfer, R&D Area Manager for Central Europe at UPM.
A solution to the problem found through cooperation
Not to worry though! UPM Raflatac, UPM Communication Papers and UPM R&D wasted no time in finding a solution. A new type of adhesive has now been developed and launched on the market, promising considerable improvements in the recyclability of UPM Raflatac paper labels.
“Thanks to our new recycling-friendly adhesive, our labels are no longer an issue in the paper recycling stream. Now our labels become high-quality paper again after being recycled,” says Andoni Rodriguez, Director, Business Segment A4 & Sheets, Paper Laminates, EMEIA of UPM Raflatac.
“The new glue behaves much better during the deinking process and the new label passes the European Paper Recycling Council’s scoring criteria for recyclability,” Oberndorfer explains.
Linking production, recycling and R&D
The paper recycling and production knowledge of UPM Communication Papers and R&D with the product development knowledge of UPM Raflatac were closely linked in the collaboration. UPM Raflatac also collaborated with their customers when testing the new adhesive. INGEDE, the International Association of the Deinking Industry, also took part in the development work.
“Enhancing recyclability was a key objective in this project, but other things were achieved as well. We covered all the requirements of the value chain. We optimised label conversion and met the needs of brand owners and consumers who use our labels as coupons, inserts in magazines or return labels. The collaboration with our printers and converters was crucial to our success,” Rodriguez emphasises.
Recycled fibre accounts for nearly one-third of all fibre used in UPM’s paper production. A well-functioning recycling process ensures that all the recovered paper material is used as effectively as possible. Improving the recyclability of paper products is one of the best ways to develop the sustainable use of paper.
Text: Saara Töyssy