Labels

It’s here … a cost-neutral way to recycle label waste

Wedderburn

5th December 2019

Imagine recycling your label waste into 75 tonnes of pulp that will be used to make approx. 125 tonnes of magazine paper. It’s achievable thanks to a new, cost-neutral initiative recently introduced to Australia.

The Wedderburn team is very conscious of our customers’ waste and disposal issues. So we wanted to help them find a sustainable way to eliminate their label waste and reduce the reliance on new resources. We also wanted to find a way to reduce our own environmental footprint.

As a result of our investigations, we are very proud to announce Australia’s first truly circular way to recycle label backing paper. We’re partnering with customers and a supplier in a cost neutral program that reduces landfill and converts label waste into a valuable resource.

Known as the circular economy, the goal is to create a close-loop system which minimises the use of new resources and the creation of waste.

Introducing RafCycle®

For the past 10 years, UPM Raflatac (a global label paper supplier) has been collecting and recycling thousands of tonnes of label backing paper on behalf of its customers.

In a program they call RafCycle®, the silicone coating is removed from the label backing paper (known as Glassine). With the silicone coating removed, the backing paper can be recycled into paper pulp and used again to create high-quality paper products, such as more backing paper. In addition, the silicone waste is used to create energy in power plants.

Giving label waste a new life and reducing landfill is an excellent example of the circular economy in action.

Now every container load of label waste that’s recycled:

  • Repurposes 1,300 trees and
  • Yields 75 tonnes of pulp that is converted into high quality paper products

Wedderburn is thrilled to be the first Australian company – and the first company outside of Europe – to become a RafCycle® partner.

Reducing label waste is challenging

Labels are an important part of every organisation’s branding. They also provide vital information to consumers and often, labels perform important regulatory compliance duties as well.

However, the production and use of labels presents an environmental challenge due to the amount of waste produced by the industry. That’s why Wedderburn decided to look for a solution.

How does the RafCycle® program work? … It’s very easy!

Wedderburn supplies customers with a RafCycle® pallet box, after the labels are applied, the re-rolled backing paper is placed into this box. Customers then ship the full RafCycle® pallet boxes back to selected Wedderburn branches and we send them another box to fill.

Once Wedderburn has collected a container load of label backing paper, it’s shipped to the purpose-built RafCycle® plant in Germany. Calculations show that the shipping only adds 1.6% CO2 emissions to the lifecycle of a label – a tiny amount compared to the massive benefits of circular recycling.

Importantly, our program is designed to be cost neutral, but in many cases, our customers are saving money when compared with landfill disposal costs. Plus, they are reducing their environmental footprint – which helps everyone.

For Wedderburn customers who are members of the Australian Packaging Covenant, they can declare this label recycling program as part of their overall recycling implementation plan. Our RafCycle® program also offers full traceability and certification. No wonder we’re excited!

We’ve filled our first container!

We are proud to confirm that our first container load arrived at the RafCycle® plant in Germany in mid-October ensuring our customers are the first in Australia to participate in this tremendous initiative!

When Illawarra Smallgoods was asked why they joined the RafCycle® program, they simply said,

It had a fair bit to do with the amount of waste we were collecting every day. We were watching the girls come in to clean the lines each afternoon and they couldn’t even lift the bags of rewind into the bins! They were dragging them along the floor, into the compacter and squashing them into the bin for landfill. It seemed like such a waste.”

For another customer, Country Valley, sustainable practices are high on their agenda so the RafCycle® program simply fits in.

I never thought you could recycle the label backing paper. I just thought it was waste. But when you look at it differently, it’s not waste. You can really do something with this stuff and every container saves 1300 trees.”

Like to get involved?

For information about how you can become involved in Australia’s first RafCycle® program, contact Wedderburn.

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