HELSINKI (News release) -- Global pressure sensitive label material supplier UPM Raflatac is pleased to announce it has made great progress toward a more circular economy for plastics and a future beyond fossils. This progress is detailed in the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment 2020 Progress Report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the UN Environment Programme. UPM Raflatac is the only pressure sensitive labeling company to have announced targets for reducing unnecessary plastic packaging as a signatory of the Global Commitment.
As highlighted in the report, UPM Raflatac has continued to develop new sustainable label solutions that focus on more resource-efficient materials, including certified papers, recycled content, solvent-free adhesives, and wash-off and fossil-free solutions. One major step in this direction was the debut of UPM Raflatac Forest Film™ in 2019, the industry's first commercially available polypropylene and polyethylene plastic labeling material derived from wood-based sources.
The company also recently launched the SmartChoice™ and SmartCircle™ product ranges to promote label solutions that support the circular economy and make it easier for customers to find those solutions. In addition, they continued the development work to bring new label solutions with recycled content to the market with a focus on recycled content PE and PP plastic label materials to replace virgin fossil materials.
Reducing raw material use is a priority for UPM Raflatac, and in 2019 resource efficiency actions led to a total reduction of 560 tons of plastic labeling materials. This was complemented by a 230 percent growth in linerless labeling; this solution eliminates the need for label backing material and is suitable in many applications including retail and logistics labeling.
Turning label waste into a resource is also a key component of the circular economy for plastic, and the RafCycle® by UPM Raflatac label liner waste recycling program increased its number of global partners from 130 to 150 and digital solution for the efficient collection of smaller batches was launched.
The company is also taking steps to make its own production facilities more sustainable, including implementing zero waste to landfill targets at all production sites. At present, four of 10 factories worldwide are completely landfill-free and two others landfilled fewer than 25 tons in 2019. Additional steps have been taken to reduce plastic packaging waste in production.
"At UPM Raflatac, we state that 'labels matter' for implementing a circular economy for packaging materials and we are proud to highlight the many steps our company has taken in this direction as detailed in the newly published 2020 Global Commitment Progress Report," says Robert Taylor, Sustainability Director, UPM Raflatac. "But we know we have a lot more work to do to achieve our ambitious targets by 2025. As a supplier in the packaging value chain we know that a substantial acceleration of progress will be needed to achieve the 2025 targets and we look forward to the challenge ahead."
The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with UN Environment Programme (UNEP), with its vision now shared by more than 500 organizations around the world. At the heart of the Global Commitment is a vision of a circular economy for plastic in which it never becomes waste or pollution. Signatories include companies representing 20 percent of all plastic packaging produced globally, as well as governments, NGOs, universities, industry associations, investors, and other organizations.
The report shows there has been significant progress in two key areas: the incorporation of recycled content in plastic packaging, and the phase out of the most commonly identified problematic items, such as PS and PVC packaging, undetectable carbon black pigments, and single-use plastic bags and straws.
However, there has been limited progress on increasing recyclability of plastic packaging and reducing the need for single-use packaging altogether: progress on shifting towards reusable packaging is limited, and elimination efforts remain focused on a relatively small set of materials and formats.