Packaging Is Awesome with Adam Peek
People of Packaging Podcast
206 - The lesser known area of sustainability in packaging

206 - The lesser known area of sustainability in packaging

Label release liner recycling with Roz Bandy and Adam Frey

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Podcast this week:

Rosalyn Bandy from TLMI and Adam Frey from Wausau Coated Products, Inc came on the People of Packaging Podcast!

Join TLMI and Wausau Coated as we explore the world of label release liners and their impact on sustainability. Discover how we can work together to create a more sustainable future for the packaging industry. #Sustainability #CircularEconomy

Don't have time to listen to the entire episode? Well you're in luck! has used the internet to write a lovely summary article!

The Future of Label Release Liners: A Sustainable Solution


Label release liners play a crucial role in the packaging industry, serving as the carrier for labels on various products. However, the issue arises when it comes to the disposal of these release liners after the labels have been applied. Currently, the majority of release liners end up in landfills, contributing to environmental waste and sustainability concerns. In this thought-provoking discussion, I had the pleasure of speaking with Adam Frey, Business Manager of Rolled Products at Wausau Coated, and Roz Bandy, VP of Sustainability at the Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute (TLMI). We delved into the challenges surrounding label release liner recycling and explored potential solutions to create a more sustainable future for the industry.

Understanding the Label Release Liner

Adam Frey highlighted the significance of label release liners, explaining that they can be made from either paper or film and serve as the carrier for labels seen on everyday packaging. However, once the label is applied, the question arises: what should be done with the release liner? Currently, the default option is landfill, which is far from ideal considering the energy-intensive process involved in manufacturing release liners. Adam emphasized the need to find alternative uses for this valuable product, rather than simply discarding it.

Roz Bandy added that TLMI has been working towards raising awareness about the recyclability of release liners. She mentioned that paper release liners, which account for approximately 85% of pressure-sensitive labels, have recently been recognized as a high-quality product by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). This recognition opens up opportunities for recycling and repurposing release liners, but there are challenges to overcome.

The Challenge of Recycling Release Liners

One of the main obstacles to recycling release liners is the lack of volume. Roz explained that mills interested in recycling release liners require a significant amount of material, typically around 50,000 pounds, to qualify it for their processing. However, finding copackers or consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies willing to set aside such a large volume of release liners for recycling has proven to be a challenge. This lack of supply hinders the ability to meet the demand from mills interested in recycling release liners.

Additionally, the issue of contamination arises when paper release liners are mixed with pet release liners during the recycling process. Roz mentioned that some pet liner recyclers have stopped accepting release liners due to the high levels of contamination caused by paper labels. This contamination not only affects the quality of the recycled material but also results in financial losses for recyclers. It is crucial for copackers and CPG companies to be mindful of the contamination issue and ensure that the release liners they send for recycling are free from excessive paper labels.

Creating a Circular Economy for Release Liners

To address the challenges surrounding release liner recycling, collaboration and education are key. Adam Frey emphasized the importance of joining TLMI and actively participating in committees focused on sustainability. By working together, industry stakeholders can share ideas, educate one another, and find innovative solutions to improve the recycling process for release liners.

Roz Bandy highlighted TLMI's efforts in providing education and resources to its members and the wider industry. TLMI's website offers valuable information on release liner recycling, including documents explaining the recyclability of release liners and a map of recyclers across the country. This map allows copackers and CPG companies to locate nearby recyclers, reducing shipping costs and facilitating the recycling process.

The Role of Manufacturers and Brands

As a manufacturer of pressure-sensitive roll stocks, Adam Frey emphasized the need for manufacturers to explore ways to make release liners more repulpable and environmentally friendly. By collaborating with paper mills and engaging in ongoing discussions, manufacturers can work towards creating a conduit for the recycling of release liners. Additionally, manufacturers can incorporate sustainability messaging on shipping documents and explore the possibility of printing recycling information and QR codes on the end rolls of release liners. This would provide easy access to recycling information for copackers and CPG companies, encouraging them to recycle their release liners.

TLMI's Role in Driving Change

TLMI, as a trade association, plays a crucial role in driving change within the label industry. Roz Bandy highlighted TLMI's collaborative efforts with organizations like C Lab, which focuses on creating a circular economy for labels in the United States. TLMI provides education, resources, and platforms for industry stakeholders to come together and work towards a common goal of sustainability. By sharing ideas, developing projects, and staying informed about upcoming legislation, TLMI members can stay ahead of the curve and prepare for future sustainability mandates.

Conclusion and Future Outlook

The issue of label release liner recycling is a complex one, but it is one that the label industry must address to create a more sustainable future. Through collaboration, education, and innovation, industry stakeholders can find solutions to increase the recycling of release liners and reduce their impact on the environment. The efforts of organizations like TLMI, manufacturers like Wausau, and the commitment of copackers and CPG companies are crucial in driving this change. By working together, the label industry can pave the way for a circular economy, where release liners are repurposed and recycled, leading to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future.

Next week's podcast episode is going to be an awesome look into #sneakers and #packaging with Mike Sykes from the Kicks You Wear and a potential surprise #unboxing with a dope collab!

Packaging Is Awesome with Adam Peek
People of Packaging Podcast
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