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Blog | 05/17/2019 06:26:00 | 5 min Read time

Reduce, Recycle & Renew: UPM Raflatac utilizes recycled content and enables better recyclability of packaging materials

Jan Hasselblatt

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

In this article I will discuss the theme of Recycling, which continues my article series of the Three R’s of sustainable labeling: Reduce, Recycle and Reuse.

Recycling requires smart action and team players

All in all, this means that in the future, we need to be smart about how we use the raw materials that we have. New technological and chemical innovations will be the future game-changers, but commitments to sustainability and circular economy at brand and consumer levels will become increasingly important. We can only turn the ship around with seamless cooperation, and recycling is one of those things that calls for all stakeholders’ input in an efficient circular economy. 

First Reduce then Recycle

Ideally, we should aim at reducing as much as we can at both corporate and consumer levels, then reuse the resources and materials several times. If we can’t reuse, then the last straw is to recycle. This way the raw materials are coming back to the system and the circular motion of the plastics economy is ensured.

The big brands of this world are making strong commitments to operate more sustainably through their own strategies, and also by joining the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which we at UPM Raflatac are part of too. Through our commitments to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we want to show that recycling is an important issue for us. More importantly, as actions speak louder than words, our commitments help us steer the hard work and actions we are taking towards better sustainability.

In my view, enabling better recyclability might even be our biggest commitment going forward, as it requires developing partnerships and synergies between a wide range of stakeholders. Read more about Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Global Commitment and our commitments in the link at the bottom of this page.

UPM Raflatac enabling better recyclability

If we think of the world of labels, especially for the home and personal care packaging that are quite often made out of rigid plastic due to the products’ functional requirements, it is our top priority to ensure that our labels are not a barrier to recycling.

The way we at UPM Raflatac are enabling better recyclability of our customers and brand owners’ products by developing innovations, is two-fold:

1. Raw materials support recycling and recyclability

Firstly, it’s all about the choice of raw material for a label which will go on a package. We can either use fossil-based raw material, or alternatively, renewable materials like paper, or materials with recycled content, such as our UPM Raflatac Vanish™ PCR (post-consumer content) with up to 90% recycled content.

By using recycled content we’re also stimulating the market to utilize recycled content more and as a result, harness recycling. In order to move away from the fossil-based raw materials, it is vital that we all are actively creating demand for recycling and recycled raw materials.

2. Optimizing recyclability for end-of-life is crucial

Secondly, we need to consider solutions that support and optimize the recyclability of labels and packaging. What I mean by this is the functionality, what happens to the package when it’s recycled.

For this we have developed label adhesives for PET and glass bottles that wash off in an industrial recycling process. We also have removable adhesives that enable consumers to remove the labels at home. These are important factors that optimize the recyclability of the base package.

When you throw your shampoo or cleaning liquid bottle away, by our smart choices of label materials and optimized recyclability it can be recycled fully, rather than just parts of it – thanks to the wash-off adhesives that play an important role in the recycling process and enable the recycling of the PET.

UPM Raflatac’s solutions for enhanced recyclability

RafCycle™ by UPM Raflatac: With our innovative RafCycle recycling concept we offer a new life for label waste. We already have more than 150 RafCycle partners in Europe, and more are joining us all the time.

Vanish™ PCR: These ultrathin no-label look labels that the Vanish range offers feature 90% recycled content face and liners. These thin yet strong labels allow home and personal care brand owners to increase their sustainability without sacrificing performance.

UPM Raflatac RW85C: This is an innovative wash-off label adhesive, which enables the label to wash off in the PET recycling process, and therefore a clean PET flake can be recycled and is usable in manufacturing new PET plastics.

If you would like to hear more about our sustainable solutions of product ranges, get in touch! I am more than happy to help you with your labeling needs. Let’s find out together what UPM Raflatac can offer for you and your company in order to increase sustainability in labeling and packaging!


Read more:

UPM Raflatac's commitments for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
RafCycle™ by UPM Raflatac
UPM Raflatac Vanish™ PCR
Enabling Plastic Recycling with Labels 



Jan Hasselblatt

Jan Hasselblatt

Director, Global Business Development, Home and Personal Care, UPM Raflatac | “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take"