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Mar 08
UPM Raflatac enabling circular economy with Reduce, Recycle and Renew

​This article will start a series of four UPM Raflatac blog articles where we will discuss the Big Rs of sustainable business: Reduce, Recycle and Renew, and their role in the global plastics waste issue the world is currently looking at.

We will also look at how they translate to our work at UPM Raflatac in ensuring sustainability and continuous flow of circular economy.

The circular economy affects the present and the future

In today’s world, growing concern about the effects of climate change, plastics and the well-being of our environment, the circular economy and the R’s, Reduce, Recycle and Renew have become important factors to many, if not all brands. Especially in the world of labeling and packaging, there is a huge pressure to mitigate the non-sustainable use of plastics, to support sustainability, and to find more and better ecodesigned solutions for labeling products. 

It is a topic that moves the labeling and packaging industry alike, as we all have to guarantee the sustainability of our products and do our share for a cleaner tomorrow. 

Reduce, Recycle and Renew at UPM Raflatac

We have a long history of being in the forefront of sustainability. With the help of innovation, we have been able to place Reducing, Recycling and Renewing at the core of UPM Raflatac’s business. By focusing on these three essential measures at every stage of our products’ lifecycle, we are able to support the efficiency of circular economy and offer sustainable solutions to our customers and brand owners. But how do these three realize in UPM Raflatac’s work?

Reduce: From product design to engineering, reducing the use of resources can have a significant impact on the environment. With reduced use of raw materials, we can now offer thinner and lighter films with less grammage - without compromising the labels’ performance. Using less raw material also generates less waste and creates reductions of total consumer packaging. This also means higher efficiency for brand owners. 

Recycle: As our label is a physical part of our customers’ packages, it is our job to ensure the recyclability of our and your products. To do this, we have been in the forefront of development for wash-off adhesives, which enables recyclability of PET containers.

Ensuring that our labels can be easily removed, we optimize the recycling process of plastic packages and enhance the higher quality usage of recycled raw materials. By optimizing recycling, we ensure the smooth flow of the circular economy.

Turning waste into a resource is a key concept in the circular economy and an important part of our approach to sustainability. To support this, we have developed RafCycle, a leading innovative recycling concept that offers a new life for label waste.

Renew: When we design our products, we ensure that our labels are not a barrier to recycling. In addition, we aim at helping reduce the use of virgin fossil raw materials by using more renewable options, such as FSC-certified paper liners and other bio-based alternatives that technically meet the needs of more demanding packaging. With innovation and intelligent solutions, more sustainable options that outperform older, less sustainable materials are now emerging. 

Future trends

The future will bring about great challenges, which we are ready to embrace and lead on. There will be more legislative pressure to tackle the expectations of circular economy, and companies will have greater responsibility in taking effective action to solve the waste burden and use of virgin fossil raw materials, towards more sustainable business.

We at UPM Raflatac forecast that in the future enabling recyclability will be in the foreground of all operations, and that we will start seeing more intelligent and bio-based solutions in the industry. According to our view and research, future trends in labeling and packaging will entail:

- Reducing raw materials 
- Enabling better recyclability
- Removable adhesives alongside wash-off adhesives
- Bio-based alternatives to replace fossil-based alternatives

UPM Raflatac’s sustainable solutions

Sustainability is a long-term game, and we at UPM have long traditions in using forests and raw materials in a very sustainable way. With our pioneering engineers and product designers, we have, for example, innovated a portfolio of products that support our mission of utilizing new bio-based raw materials, such as new bio-chemicals and bio-composites in creating sustainable labels.

We believe that companies who are able to move beyond the use of fossil feedstock will be the successful companies of the future. We also believe that UPM’s exceptional know-how in innovation and sustainability leadership gives us the edge to address the plastics waste issue and to support better recyclability of plastics in the future.


Jan Hasselblatt
Director, Global Business Development, Home and Personal Care, UPM Raflatac 

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”


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