Sustainability in its simplest terms means, giving back to Mother-Earth or environment, society, or economy, whatever you draw from it. It ultimately delivers a message for us to leave a safer planet with minimum or no depletion of resources, for generations that follow, after meeting your own imperative needs. Let us for example consider just paper. Long years ago, with development of paper, there was  a lot of promotions to increase its usage, but then it was realized that paper production was hugely dependent on wood and increased usage meant deforestation.

It is an accepted fact that forests are very important for a healthy environment and climate. It was on this realization that a lot of emphasis started to be put on avoiding unnecessary paper usage. Even now responsible company emails have a footnote advising not to print unless absolutely necessary. On the other hand, there are statutory directives to paper mills to aid afforestation so as to increase the forest cover and replenish the amount of wood extracted. However still, usage of paper is sustainable when produced with implementation of replenishing the inputs used. Moreover, the paper waste is re-pulpable to again produce paper or paper board aiding circular economy. Production of all manufactured goods and services should avoid or reduce using resources that cannot be replaced and whose depletion will adversely impact the environment. As mentioned above, paper is mostly produced from wood whose extended use in paper production leads to deforestation. For this reason, a lot of manufacturers do a life cycle analysis of products to achieve a level of sustainability.

Brand owners and large label user companies have now started insisting on FSC certified paper usage. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a globally recognized certification system that ensures that the forests are managed sustainably. Products that are manufactured from responsibly harvested forests are identified with the FSC logo, which is considered the “gold standard” of forest certification by major environmental groups.

Circular economy

Circular economy also referred to as circularity and CE, refers to a type of process for  production and consumption, which conforms to reusing, repairing, refurbishing or recycling materials and products. Since CE helps in reducing raw material requirement, carbon footprint and aids sustainability, it has gained popularity. It also helps in conservation of important resources. For an example of CE, milk pouches are made of mono polymers like LDPE for packaging which is easily recycled or reprocessed to again convert to plastic granules that can be remolded into usable plastic products. On the flip side, multi-polymer multi-layered film pouches are not recyclable and end up in landfills impacting environment adversely as they also do not biodegrade.

However, there is work being done to develop processes that will enable these also to be recycled. The government of India is actively formulating policies and promoting projects that will drive the country towards a circular economy system. It is estimated that a circular economy path adopted by India could bring in annual benefits of 40 lakh crores or approximately US$ 624 billion in 2050.

Labels

The material for labelstock consists of many elements and sustainability cannot be in the total laminate, each component must be sustainable and contribute. The self-adhesive label laminate primarily consists of face stock with or without a primer or lamination, pressure sensitive adhesive and siliconized release paper or film. To be sustainable each element must be dwelled upon separately. The life cycle of each of these is different and an analysis needs to be done in-depth to make decisions towards achieving sustainability goals.

Climate change and environmental concerns have now become issues that cannot be ignored and need to be attended to, at national and global levels. With increased statutory government directives to reduce carbon footprint and make sustainability an imperative, manufacturers are under pressure to re-engineer their products and their packaging. Leading brands have committed themselves to sustainability and circular economy to reduce their carbon footprint. Labels also being  a part of packaging must be designed to achieve maximum level of sustainability and circular economy. FMCG brand owners are now preferring packaging solutions that will enable them to achieve decrease in their carbon footprint ensuring recycling of packaging material which is environment friendly. It is thus necessary to dwell on the different components of self-adhesive labels and their diverse usage. In India Avery Dennison has launched a matrix and liner recycling program to aid these needs. The liner collected from converters is sent to a company who repulps the liner mixed with wastepaper to produce tissue for shoe industry or other paper board items. The matrix is converted to briquettes and used as fuel.

Face materials

The label face material is the actual performing part of the label that after application stays with the product during its entire lifecycle. Variety of substrates are used to be the label depending on its performance and aesthetics. These can be papers that are either coated or uncoated, plastic films or other materials. Even paper labels laminated with films are in use. Unlaminated paper is, as such, largely re-pulpable and converted to become recycled paper or paperboard to be reused but here we need to understand that in case of self-adhesive labels, paper alone does not get affixed to the product, it has an adhesive with it. The final label with the adhesive goes on to the product while the waste matrix after die-cutting in converting is waste that often goes to landfills impacting the environment adversely. It can also be shredded and molded as pellets or bricks to be used as fuel.

To that extent we can consider the waste matrix sustainable as it is put to constructive use.  However still, the label that is affixed on the product has to be disposed along with the adhesive and the package it is on. So, we need to use special adhesives for the label to be re-pulpable in case of use on paper based packaging, or removable or washed off for recycling, when applied on reusable glass containers. We dwell on adhesives later in this article. Going backwards label buyers also have started insisting for their vendors to use FSC certified papers. FSC® or Forest Stewardship Council® certified paper is paper that has been harvested in a responsible manner. FSC stands for sustainable sourcing that puts forests and people first.

In case of filmic labels besides adhesive, it is another issue with worldwide movement against use of plastics wherever avoidable. The reason for this is that plastics are largely not biodegradable or non-compostable, so they are not ecofriendly. With EPR becoming mandatory in India, companies are constantly trying to use materials that can be recycled or reused. According to EPR or Extended Producers Responsibility,  which is the responsibility of Producers, Importers and Brand-owners to ensure processing of their plastic packaging waste through recycling, re-use or end of life disposal (such as co-processing/Waste-to-energy/Plastic to-oil/roadmaking/industrial-composting).

The impact is evident from the fact that most companies are shifting towards paper based packaging or even paper based self-adhesive tapes. Many filmic labels are based on mono polymer PE, PP or PET so if they are used on bottles made with same polymer these can be recycled provided the adhesive is compatible. Some companies have been making changes in manufacturing to improve the recyclability of product packaging and look at ways of reducing carbon footprint.  New films, made with 30-50% post-consumer recycled material or made with biobased materials, are offered that aid the circular economy and reduce the use of fossil based packaging while reducing carbon footprint. Some of these films available are fully compostable. Specially designed thinner films that are converted to  be used for highspeed labeling are being preferred as using less material, is a good step toward sustainability.

Adhesives

Often when assessing the sustainability of a packaging, people tend to overlook the impact of adhesives that are an inherent part of the package. An adhesive that may hinder the recyclability or maybe non compostable will become a setback for the efforts to make labels and stickers sustainable. An adhesive must be chosen, such that it will comply with end-of-life process to recycle and reuse or be compostable.

With advancements in technology, adhesives are derived from either natural or synthetic raw materials. A general perception, that adhesives formulated with natural inputs may be sustainable and those made from synthetics are not sustainable, is not true as a rule. Both types of adhesives can be developed and formulated to perform and yet conform to sustainability. It is important to study and select adhesive for labels based on your need. Let us for example consider self-adhesive beer labels in returnable glass bottles. In this case the adhesive should be compostable and easily washable to separate from the glass bottle for the bottle to be washed and reused while the label in the water can also be separated, recycled or dispose without adversely impacting environment. In case of PE bottles with PE labels, the adhesive should be compatible, such that it can be shredded granulated along with the bottle for remolding.  For each application the selection of adhesive is important.

Release liners

Over fifty percent of self-adhesive labelstock used for manufacturing labels or stickers  is generated as waste in converting. This is a known and accepted fact. The waste, more often than not, goes to landfills impacting environment. The release liner that protects the adhesive until the label is dispensed and applied, forms a major part of the waste generated. Since many years companies have been looking at options to either do away with the liner or reducing the waste generated by the liner.

Paper based liners form more than 80% release liners used for self-adhesive labels. The paper-based liners include Glassine, SCK, CCK and Poly coated papers. Linerless labels have been considered and used for some years now but due to growing need for better aesthetics, die-cutting complex shapes and embellishments, they have limited use. To reduce the tonnage of liner waste going to landfills as a sustainability endeavor, there has been talk of reducing the caliper/grammage of liner used but not much headway has been made in this direction.

In India and Europe, glassine is largely used as the preferred release liner and accounts to over 70% of all paper liners used. For long, release papers were not considered recyclable due to the silicone coating which after crosslinking becomes inert. However with development in technology, some companies in Europe and USA  developed a de-siliconization process after which the paper can be processed to reproduce base papers for siliconizing. In the process, siliconized liner is repulped in water containing chemicals to release the silicone and remove the small silicone particles like in the process used for deinking of repulped printed papers. The de-siliconized pulp can then be used to produce new products, such as fine and specialty papers like release liner, label face, writing and printing papers. Thereby achieving circularity.

There has been substantial growth in use of filmic liners that are thinner and can take more labels per roll. The residual filmic liner can be recycled, enabling circularity. To achieve an elevated level of circular economy and sustainability, “CELAB” (Circular Economy for Labels),  was set up by 50 industry-leading companies representing the entire value chain that have come together to create a sustainable pressure sensitive labeling industry by offering solutions and providing education to enable matrix and liner recycling.

It is an ad-hoc coalition empowered to reach across the entire supply chain and leverage the expertise of industry participants to promote a circular economy for self-adhesive label materials. CELAB’s members comprise industry members both large and small, and with both global and regional market presence. It also includes companies up and down the value chain of the matrix and liner industry. According to CELAB, “Like many other grades of film, silicone coated filmic release liners are recycled by regrinding the film into chips/pellets which can then be mixed with ‘virgin’ polymer and re-introduced to a film extrusion line for production of new polymeric film.”

Self-adhesive or pressure sensitive labels industry was at one time considered to be generating waste that was polluting the environment but gradually all-around efforts are driving in sustainability and recyclability. It is a matter of time the processes will evolve and the industry will shed the waste generating tag and grow.

Written by Harveer Sahni, Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi-India January 2023

TechNova is one of the world’s largest suppliers of print solutions. catering to a wide range of industries, such as Commercial & Newspaper Printing, Publishing, Packaging, Signage, Photo, Textile, Engineering & Medical Imaging and labels. Technova has partnered with the world’s leading digital print company, HP to help customers expand their capabilities to benefit from the unique profit opportunities. HP’s strategy to create an ecosystem of printers, Brand owners, profitable applications and partners is unique. HP’s futuristic technology fits in perfectly with TechNova’s business strategy of focusing on customers.

TechNova inaugurated its state-of-the-art TOUCH Center at Turbhe, Navi Mumbai on January 09, 2023. The TOUCH center will have the best-in-class HP Indigo 6K digital press running live and will offer a complete experience of HP Indigo Digital Printing technology. Customers will be able to explore interesting applications & business growth opportunities for PSPs as well as brand owners. It will help customers understand, experience & embrace cutting-edge technologies. The touch center will not only act as a demo center but will also impart training to printers and operators such that HP customers can use their equipment immediately after installation. They also plan to in future to provide the platform for imparting knowledge to students.

TOUCH is an acronym for TechNova Open University for CHange. It is a knowledge sharing Center launched by TechNova in 1996. The primary objective of TOUCH Center is to offer the Indian Print Industry a platform for learning new skills, experiencing latest technologies and achieving operational excellence by adopting latest trends in the industry.

Commenting on the TechNova – HP alliance, Pranav Parikh, CMD of TechNova stated: ‘Our journey in digital printing started in 1993 with our alliance with Indigo for marketing their presses in India. We have now deepened our partnership with HP to include the full range of Indigo Label solutions and inkjet press for Folding Cartons and Publishing. TechNova’s philosophy of ‘Customer First’ with the mission to continuously enhance the competitive advantage of our customers has been the driving force for this alliance. The TOUCH Center is an initiative in this direction.

A Appadurai, Country Business Manager – Indigo & Inkjet Business Solutions, HP India says, “Our mission is to provide a level playing field for the start-ups & SMBs in high quality world class printed packaging, our target is to expand the market for HP Indigo with inauguration of this demo center.”

‘Embracing digital is the need of the hour. HP’s futuristic technology fits in perfectly with TechNova’s business strategy’ explains C G Ramakrishnan, Executive Director and CEO of TechNova.

Amit Khurana, COO – Digital & Offset Print Solutions at TechNova, adds, “HP’s strategy to create an ecosystem of printers, brand owners, profitable applications and partners is unique.’

Born to Malayali parents in the south Indian state of Kerala, Hari Nair CEO of Digital Labels in Toronto  does not sound like a Malayali, on the contrary he sounds like a typical Mumbaikar (Local longtime residents of Mumbai). The Malayali people are a Dravidian ethnolinguistic group originating from the present-day state of Kerala in India, occupying its southwestern Malabar coast.

They are predominantly native speakers of the Malayalam language. They constitute the majority of the population of Kerala. It is pertinent to mention here that Hari is proud of his Indian heritage and firmly believes in the oneness of being an Indian rather than be recognized as a part of separate religious or caste-based segment of the society. Long years ago, Hari’s parents had moved residence to Mumbai, where he grew up. They lived in Santa Cruz, close to airport. He did his schooling from Kalina Education Society and  college in Parle college. He followed this with Masters in Organic Chemistry from Bombay University. Finally, he completed his MMS (Master of Management Studies) from Sydenham Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai. Post education in 1989 he along with a few others were hired by Suresh Gupta former Chairman Huhtamaki-PPL, which at that time was Paper Products Limited (PPL) promoted by the late Sardari Lal Talwar and his family. Paper Products Limited or PPL was later acquired by multinational Huhtamaki. Sardari Lal Talwar’s son in law, Suresh Gupta had joined PPL when it was facing tough times. Suresh Gupta fondly called SG, was in the process of transforming the company from purely owner driven to  professionally managed one. An elaborate program of in-house training was put in place. The program was designed by SG and his colleagues to suit their specific needs, may they be technology, sales, customer or people handling. They were transforming the company to project their acumen in offering the latest in packaging. So, he hired these youngsters and trained them. He would not let them to take it easy. They were initially trained in flexible packaging, learning every part of the process including slitting. Hari mentions, “SG had long term vision.” He achieved success by implementing his ideas. These new incumbents included 6 or 7 persons to be groomed as his core management team. Hari Nair was one of them and who considers Suresh as his mentor and remains in awe of his capabilities to transform a company that was just Rupees 35 Crores when Hari joined and under SG’s leadership PPL had crossed Rupees 2300 Crores when SG retired.

Hari started his career at Thane (Mumbai) plant of PPL in flexible packaging division. When SG introduced Shrink Sleeves 1993-94, Hari was sent to Fuji seal Japan for training him and taking other persons from the company along with him, for training. In 1997 he was moved as General Manager to Hyderabad plant of PPL. Hari came to Canada in 2001 from his last posting in India at PPL Hyderabad. When asked why he moved to Canada, he is not sure, but then says, ”I always thought it will be good for his daughter plus I was fascinated by the west.” Each time he visited these countries on his business trips, he was in awe of the infrastructure, the roads and facilities.

Comparatively, he felt India was always “work in progress” and in his lifetime, it will never be like this in India. He yearned to live in these countries and drive on these roads, though today he says, these were stupid reasons. He feels as one matures and looks back; the realization comes that they were not the right reasons however his vison for his daughter Mythili getting better education has worked well. Since so many children are coming to Canada to study, she would also have had to do that but now that she is here, it is working out for her, she is a doctor and moving on well with her life. When they shifted to Canada his family had no clue what they were going to be up against, on arriving in Toronto they were all holed up in one room of a town house in which four families were living, sharing kitchen. It was an extremely challenging situation from the life they had been leading back in India.

On landing in Toronto, he tried looking for jobs in the field that he was experienced in and approached companies in similar fields. Sandeep Lal the then owner of Metro Labels called him for an interview and in response felt Hari was overqualified and he did not have a position for him at that time. For a full year thereafter, Hari did not get a break and he was so distressed that he even sent a message to his mentor SG that he might want to come back to PPL. The experienced mentor and a professional management leader that he was, SG advised him that while he was welcome to return, yet he did not want Hari to regret later and feel he did not try hard enough. SG asked him to wait for some more time and try some more, things will work out. That was the motivation coming from a mentor that made him hang on, it was the encouragement that changed his mind. A year later while he was contemplating moving out of the packaging industry, he saw many youngsters joining banks as the jobs were there on offer. On a suggestion from a friend, he did a course in financial securities hoping to get a bank job. He was then living at Kingston Ontario and met almost all the bank manager there, looking for a job.

While he was searching for a job in banks, Hari stayed connected and following up with Sandeep Lal at Metro Labels. A year had elapsed and one fine day he got two calls, one from a bank offering him a teller’s job for 10 dollars an hour and that too for just 10 hours each week which was not enough to feed a family, and the second job offer came from Sandeep Lal which Hari accepted and joined Metro Labels as an estimator. The job was entirely different from what it was in  India, the workload was heavy. One of the first lessons he learnt was that in India if you are dealing with large customers the price for a particular customer remains same for all quantities of same label but in Canada, each job is estimated and quoted separately. In 6 to 8 months, he became the plant manager for Metro Labels. A year down the line he felt the discomfort as the environment was a lot different from the time, he worked in Paper Products in Mumbai. After having spent over two years  there he quit Metro Labels and joined another label company Labelad. He joined as a supervisor and gradually moved up and stayed there for the next 7 years. While in PPL he had worked a General Manager and had handled from production to selling more like as an entrepreneur but in Canada the work system was entirely different and here Hari worked completely in production.

During his tenure at Labelad, while he was attending a Fasson seminar, the speaker mentioned that there were two big opportunities in North America and those were flexible packaging and digital printing. Sitting at a round table along with his colleague Chris Henderson from sales in Labelad, referring to digital printing, Hari said to Chris, “this is the future.” They parted on that note and forgot about the incident. Six months later Chris was at Hari’s office asking him if he remembered his comments on digital and whether he wished to start something. With an affirmative reply, both indulged, and Digital labels was born. Chris had spent 14 years in Labelad and it was an ideal combination with Hari as the production person and Chris as the Sales expert. From experience Hari felt that the HP Indigo 4000 series could not sustain a business expense but when the 6000 series came it became a different story and once it was two years of launch of that model, they felt comfortable to buy the press. Within six months they came in contact with Charlie Maclean President from ASL Printfx and decided to get into an association with ASL investing in Digital Labels, taking a small part of the ownership. Since they also had interest in digital. It was a win-win situation as ASL could use the digital capabilities of Digital Labels who could in turn have access to ASL’s sales network. ASL has grown and is very focused in high-end jobs like wine and spirits and for short runs and personalized variable print jobs, Digital Label’s capabilities are an important resource.

Digital labels are into manufacturing of all segments of labels, shrink labels and decals, but mostly concentrating on short and specialized runs. To start they had huge challenges as both partners were into service before and had no business background, so banks were reluctant to fund them. Working capital dried up soon. Once they got over the initial hiccups and proved their capabilities it became smooth sailing. The first 6 months were tough as buyers did not trust them since they were new in labels business but then a Godsent opportunity came to them when a scented candle manufacturer who was having trouble with current vendors of labels, approached them. That business came to them as a big saviour. Once orders from that customer came in, they were operating better and later when ASL came into the picture, things changed for good.

Chris and Hari have worked tirelessly, and their efforts have been fruitful as Digital Labels has been growing in the last few years at around 25% each year. Their business is now around 7 million Dollars, and they plan and make efforts to reach 10 million in the next 3-4 years  from organic growth alone. They presently operate from a premises admeasuring 8000 square feet and the space it is fully utilized. Due to shortages faced following the pandemic, they had to increase their inventory. They rented a lot of space around their present premises so that they could maintain enough stocks to service their customers well. They operate with 25 employees, presently working 8-10 hours basis. They are a slim trim enterprise who are very careful with expenses and very focused to grow their business. Commercial real estate in Toronto is expensive so they feel that for any expansion that becomes imperative, they will try to rework their present setup and increase the working shift for the time being.

His wife Surekha with whom Hari got married in 1994, is from Goa. She is a social worker by training and now since 2007, she is working for the social services division of the city of Toronto. Their daughter Mythili was born in 1995. Hari remains connected with all his friends in India. But has no business with India. He still remains in awe of Suresh Gupta whom he looks at as a mentor and feels he has yet to meet anyone as smart, knowledgeable and professional as him.

Nostalgically and pensive in thoughts he says, “Whatever I learnt in my journey in profession so far, it has been from him”!

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi December 2022

Labelexpo India 2022 made it’s return to India, post the 4-year hiatus due to pandemic, in style and impressively. The show at Expo Centre in Greater Noida was vibrant with activity and label printers gave a  definite thumbs-up to this all-important show. From day one it became evident that the label fraternity was in wait to be at Labelexpo, network with peers and to make it evident that the exponentially growing Indian label industry was on the rise. Despite the leading international label presses not being there running live yet 250 exhibitors put forward their best to a demanding labels industry. A whopping record breaking 12000 visitors marked their presence in this busy show, a big rise from 9851 visitors at the 2018 edition of Labelexpo India, making it yet again the biggest Labelexpo held in India so far. 

LMAI Avery Dennison Awards evening

Our label printers are no less artists who are turning out labels that spell success to brands, a success that sounds like the best of music reaching their ears. Creativity starts with right imagination, generating a great artwork with the end consumers in mind, that is talent! Planning and striving to achieve excellence in print and creating the vibrance finally, is passion. When it is time to produce the label, it begins with the finesse of prepress to printing, plate creation and deciding on the embellishments, that is indulgence. Finally managing the colour, registration, implementation of the embellishments and converting to create magic on the press, that is origination. The whole run through is like an orchestra! The music conductor, our label printer, manages it all to achieve excellence in the label so produced, delivering the desired ambience to the product that adorns the label. Having created excellence and won accolades, it is time for getting rewarded with awards. LMAI endeavors to encourage and felicitate the winners of label competition at a glittering LMAI Avery Dennison Awards Ceremony., which was held on the evening of 11th November 2022. 

The author, Harveer Sahni, being the first ever recipient of R Stanton Avery Lifetime Achievement Award was felicitated by LMAI. 

Written & compiled by Harveer Sahni, Chairman Weldon Celloplast Ltd. NewDelhi November 2022

It is a treat to watch Harish Gulati, Managing Director Alpine containers Jammu, immensely active in his factory’s large shopfloor, moving from one corner to another at a pace that even youngsters find difficult to match. He is in constant communication with employees in all departments motivating them and encouraging them to perform better. At 70 years of age, he emanates energy that sets an example for his young workforce and inspires them to be active and more productive. His father was a central government employee in Jammu, the winter capital and the largest city in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, which has now been converted to a union territory.

Lying on the banks of the river Tawi, the city is surrounded by the Himalayas in the north and the northern plains in the south. Known as the City of Temples for its ancient temples and Hindu shrines. Harish was born and brought up in Jammu. He completed his schooling from Ranbir School and did his graduation from MAM college and got his  PGDAM (post graduate diploma in business management) from Jammu University. Harish is credited for taking label manufacturing to northern most part of the country.

Once out of college, Harish applied and got selected for a job in IB the premier investigating agency of India at that time but owing to typical profound wish to do his own business, he did not take up the job. He started his own business of manufacturing candles and dhoop (Incense) in 1975 and selling within the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Moving on, in 1978 with family support he started his printing press in old Jammu City in an 800 square feet premises. That was his initiation into printing.

Unfortunately, a year later the factory was completely gutted in a fire, causing huge damage and loss. Not let down by the setback and with firm resolve, he restarted from scratch within a few weeks. However, at this time he closed his candle and dhoop business and concentrated on building his printing business. Though they did some commercial printing, yet his passion and concentration was in labels and packaging on which they started concentrating, finding success. Those days they used the primitive treadle presses to print with blocks and type fonts assembled inhouse. It was a challenging situation then, as blocks, dies, type fonts, artworks etc. were to be sourced from far away Delhi. He had to travel often to Delhi as there was no support for printing business within Jammu. Total support for prepress and materials was either available from Amritsar or Delhi, while sales were in the state of J&K. Amritsar had an established printing business and Harish did face competition from printers there, who would travel to  Jammu to sell their products. Total support for prepress and materials was either available at Amritsar or Delhi. Sometime later someone did start making blocks locally but being committed to quality he kept getting his blocks made at Delhi only. He had three treadle presses, two were used for printing and one was for die cutting. Most of the jobs were done manually which included printing, die cutting, pasting etc.

In 1980 Harish got married to Sujata who was a graduate by education and did help him in business for some time but resorted to be a home maker when their two children were born. Daughter Divya was born in 1981 and son Vipul in the end of 1982. Once settled at home front Harish Gulati worked hard to make his printing business grow. In 1985 he expanded and moved to a 1200 square Yards plot in Gangyal Industrial area with 8000 square feet built up space. This facility was a 10-fold increase over the premises at old city. They installed a letter press printing machine developed and supplied by The Printers House in Ballabgarh.

They also added additional equipment like Victoria die cutting machine, varnishing machine and other allied equipment. One of their earliest big customers was Camlin Art Material Division where they were supplying the cartons for the well-known Camlin pencils branded “Flora” and another big candle manufacturer besides other customers. In 1994 he upgraded to offset with a single colour Dominant offset press. Business was growing at steady pace and in 2003 his son Vipul joined business as a trainee. With an additional working hand from family, Harish Gulati setup another new factory by the name of Karton Kraft Packers in same industrial area but a different location to manufacture Corrugated boxes.

A year later the present company Alpine Containers Private Limited was established and they purchased land admeasuring 7000 square meters in two parts. Construction commenced in 2006 and by 2008 Alpine containers was actively in production at their present location at Bari Brahma, Jammu where the built-up area has expanded to 60,000 square feet. Vipul Gulati who had joined as a trainee, became actively involved in business in 2007. Bouyed by the addition of young energy of Vipul, major expansion was taken up as the father son duo could share the responsibilities and manage the growth more efficiently. This unit was setup to produce corrugated boxes. In 2012 they installed an imported 5 ply automatic corrugation plant which was the first automatic plant in J&K. One of the earlier units manufacturing mono cartons that they had setup in at Gangyal Industrial area was closed and sold while the other unit Karton Kraft still continues to operate at the same place making monocartons.

Here they had also expanded to install a four colour Planeta Super Variant offset press. They also ventured into printing labels in sheet form on pre-gummed Self-adhesive sheets and manually half die cut with blade.

Label printing was always in the mind of Harish Gulati from the time of his initial days, in 2015 they entered manufacturing of labels in roll form in Alpine containers with the installation of a brand new eight color Gallus label press ECS340. This was a pioneering move taking the PSA(Pressure sensitive Adhesive) label manufacturing in India to Jammu and Kashmir, the northern most part of India. The level of confidence in succeeding is evident as the installation was done without having any orders in hand. The confidence was there because of fact that their existing customers for corrugated box packaging were also users of labels, and it would be a matter of time when label orders would come their way.

The first big order that came to them for labels was from an Agro Chemical MNC. Gradually other companies including more MNC’s too became customers. Initially due to locational disadvantage at Jammu there were many challenges which were overcome by their sheer  perseverance and strong will  they managed. Four years later in 2019, they added yet another  press, this time they bought a Brand New 10 Colour Mark Andy P7 label press and other allied finishing machines.

They had planned further expansion at Baddi Industrial Area in Himachal Pradesh in the year 2015, but a customer prompted and convinced them to setup a unit in West, because instead of going from North to another location also in North it was better that they went westwards extending their reach in a big way.

Finally, they decided for expanding in western India and in 2016 invested in  Gujarat buying four acres of land for further expansion. Construction at site started in 2018 but when plant and machinery arrived from Taiwan the pandemic due to Covid19 had broken in, putting all plans on hold as no engineers could come for installation, plus there was restrictions on personal movement. Finally, the Auto Line was installed in the year early 2021. Production has now started in the 50,000 square feet-built shop floor and they have commenced construction of another 50,000 square feet. By end of the current financial year the full 100,000 square feet will be completed.

Harish Gulati’s daughter Divya born in 1981 is a computer engineer now married and living in Jammu. His son Vipul finished his schooling from Maharaja Harisingh Agricultural Collegiate School Nagbani Jammu and followed it with higher studies in business management from Lovely University Jalandhar. In words of Harish Gulati, “Vipul is a big contributor to the growth of their company and is very passionate about our business. He is a keen machinery buyer always wanting to buy the right equipment to produce the best.” He further adds, “As a parent I have to and do support his endeavors, he has the capability and knack to get after things and achieve success. A very hard negotiator.” Vipul got married in 2009, his wife Smridhi is a qualified doctor but prefers to remain a homemaker by choice to bring up their three  children, two school going children, a son. and a daughter. The third child is an infant son.

As regards the present scale business, they convert 1000-1200 tons of paper for manufacturing corrugated cartons. They convert 350,000  to 400,000 square meters of PSA Labelstocks per month to make labels. They are already working out of 170,000 square feet area at three locations; 60,000 Sq.ft. in Bari Brahma Jammu, 10,000 in Gangyal Industrial Area Jammu and 100,000 Sq.ft. West. There is wish  now to consolidate and modernize present factories only with more efficient machines with increased automation, despite having more industrial land in possession at Jammu. The total workforce employed as of now is two hundred and fifty persons. Keeping in view the multilocational growing presence, professional management team has been put in place to manage the operations efficiently maintaining the progress effectively.

There are plans to modernize the corrugation unit at Jammu by replacing with a new more automated faster plant for increased cost-effective production. Their present ever growing customer base extends from Jammu-Kashmir to Gujarat, Punjab, Himachal, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. They intend indulging in exports as and when more capacity is available. There is a definite plan to expand their label business exponentially and become a prominent player in the labels industry.

Written by Harveer Sahni, Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi India October 2022

It is a famous saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”! The last labelexpo held as a globally attended event was “Labelexpo Europe 2019” in Brussels, and while writing about the event on this blog, I titled it as Labelexpo Europe 2019, the best ever! I had started that article with the words; “From the word go, Labelexpo Europe 2019 was a vibrant and happening show!” and so it was. Each year a multitude of visitors from various segments of label industry  which include printers, suppliers, consultants, media and label users make a beeline for this august show, wishing it to be bigger and better than before . Little did anyone know or visualized that the humanity will go through a traumatic time of life termed as a “pandemic.” If all goes well, it will be four long years before the next Labelexpo Europe may be held in Brussels in 2023, a show that is referred to as the Mecca for the international labels community. The past three years have witnessed immense human suffering, many lost their lives and there were a vast number of businesses that suffered. Post a gigantic global drive to vaccinate the world population against the terrible virus Covid-19, normalcy started surfacing and businesses started limping back to life. The announcement of Labelexpo Americas was welcome news but there was still an air of caution about getting infected because the virus had not been completely eradicated. Labelexpo Americas is a much smaller event as compared to the European event. The yearning by the labels industry to venture out again to witness the new developments and network with global peers in the widespread labels industry surfaced and finally the American event turned out to be a remarkable success. At the Labelexpo Americas 2022, the joy in togetherness after a hiatus of three years was evident!

Label Industry Global Awards 2022

In the evening of the first day of Labelexpo Americas 2022 The Global Label Reunion Party 2022 was organized and the Label industry Global Awards were announced. The winners were chosen by a judging panel consisting of Lori Campbell, chairman of TLMI, Linnea Keen, president of TLMI, Philippe Voet, president of FINAT, Greg Hrinya, editor of Label & Narrow Web, James Quirk, then group editor of Labels & Labeling, and Jean Poncet, editor-in-chief at Etiq+Pack. The chair of the judging panel was Andy Thomas-Emans, strategic director Tarsus Labels & Packaging Group.

As previously announced, the winner of the 2022 R. Stanton Avery Global Achievement Award is Harveer Sahni, the author of this blog. The judging panel felt Harveer meets all the criteria for excellence demanded by the industry’s most prestigious award for an individual’s contribution to the growth and development of the global labels industry. His history in building a company to manufacture self-adhesive labels in India, through to his central role in building the Indian label association and then acting as an influential ambassador on the world stage, all helped the judging panel to come to their decision. He was introduced by the TLMI President Linnea Keen who conferred the award to him. Speaking on the occasion Harveer Sahni spoke of his journey in labels and the lessons he learnt. His speech can be head on the following link;

Other winners announced are as follows:

The Rising Star Award went to Stijn Billiet, Global Sustainability Director, MCC Label. Stijn joined MCC in 2020 and made an immediate impact bringing sustainability onto the agenda of the business. Early 2021 he presented a roadmap for all global production sites to reduce their carbon footprint, guiding the Belgian facility to carbon neutral production. Stijn represents MCC in its collaboration with organizations such as Holy Grail, RecyClass, APR, and CELAB. The judging panel felt Stijn has demonstrated clear potential to be a future leader and is already a strong voice within the labels industry.

The Environmental Sustainability Award was won by Flint Group Narrow Web, for a new line of products designed to enable more sustainable packaging. The first product in the series, Evolution Deinking Primer, when used with Flint Group EkoCure XS inks, enables deinking of crystallisable shrink sleeves, allowing the clean sleeve label material to be recovered and recycled into PET packaging. The judging panel felt that the Evolution Deinking Primer makes a major contribution to developing a circular lifecycle for label materials.

The Innovation Award for companies with over 300 employees went to Actega for its Signite decoration technology. Utilizing the latest in UV-curable chemistry, Signite decorations are created entirely on press, eliminating the need for the laminated constructions used in traditional pressure-sensitive label production. Signite decorations are built in register with the graphics and label content, so there is no die cutting and no matrix to dispose of. Signite decorations are applied with a specialist inline applicator developed by Actega, initially for glass straight-walled containers. The judging panel felt this to be a step change in the way label decorations are produced and a major contribution to industry sustainability.

The Innovation Award for companies with under 300 employees was awarded to S-OneLP for its ReEarth compostable flexible packaging films. ReEarth films have achieved ASTM D6400 commercial compostability standards and are both BPI and USDA Biopreferred certified. A compostable print film, adhesive, and sealant layer make up this laminated structure that can be surface printed with digital or flexographic technologies. The judging panel felt that with more label converters diversifying into flexible packaging products, a fully compostable solution is a great aid to future packaging industry sustainability.

The Rising Star award is sponsored by Avery Dennison; the Environmental Sustainability award is sponsored by Labels & Labeling; the Innovation Award for companies up to 300 employees is sponsored by Flint Group Narrow Web; and the Innovation Award for companies over 300 is sponsored by Xeikon.

Labelexpo Americas 2022

Defying the caution and scare of Covid-19 visitors travelled across continents to witness the ample display of technologies and solutions at the event. There were a lot of live equipment running and there was a sense of fulfillment amongst the visitors. The show was vibrant and a wonderful precursor to the biggest of them all, “Labelexpo Europe 2023 at Brussels”. I reproduce pictures of my walk through the show.

The author interviewed Vinod Vazhapulli Managing Director of Skanem India, according to him Label is a window, through which a brand communicates with customers. It is the bridge that connects the brand owner with end users of products. In an evolving scenario, where change is recognised as the only constant, label may change in converting technologies, types of labels and process of application on products but yes, labels are there to stay. Without label there is no identity, it is an absolutely relevant part of all products.

In a population that is young, growing in literacy with a fast-emerging organised retail culture, Indian consumers now enjoy shopping. They pick and select products, read the label to assimilate information provided on the label before deciding on the purchase. So, label is here to stay, it may change in shape, type, and substrate it is made of. The larger part of labels in India are produced and converted using analogue printing technologies like letterpress, Flexographic printing, screen, offset, etc. This is undergoing a transformation and Skanem is committed to adopt new developments in label converting. Moving forward, their focus is to build a sustainable future by implementing Industry 4.0 and Lean Six Sigma, combined with a steady yet aggressive growth plan. Skanem India aims at moving from being one of the top players to “The Market Leader” in product decoration solutions in India.

Skanem India is a renowned organisation with a legacy of over 115 years in the Packaging industry as a part of Skanem AS founded in the Stavanger region of Norway producing from metal cans to labels. In 2012 Skanem invested into the then India’s largest label manufacturers Interlabels Mumbai and in 2014-2015 they acquired it 100%. 

They now operate out of four printing sites spread across India having their mother plant in Mumbai and other factories at Baddi, Delhi and Gauhati, with 250 permanent and one hundred temporary employees. They are equipped to cater to customers in every part of the country. In 2021 Skanem AS divested, they sold their eight factories namely- Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, UK, and Thailand to MCC. They continue to be headquartered in Norway and now have operations in India Kenya and Europe.

Divestment was done to reinvest in diversified businesses within the packaging arena. It was felt that European markets were somewhat saturated, and they saw a double-digit growth in India and Africa. In Mumbai, their investment in HP Indigo label press provides them with digital prowess that enables their customers to reach new heights with their marketing campaigns. At the same time, it enables them to fulfil the needs of budding customers (Start-ups) with shorter runs. Skanem would like to explore possibilities in packaging, by way of acquisitions or otherwise. they currently plan to use the present set up for flexible packaging and cartons and consider upgrading existing digital capabilities. Path breaking innovative products on digital which will bring in more business and need more investment are a part of future plans. What could not be done with analogue alone, will be achieved with digital, giving solutions to try test marketing with shorter runs for which analogue has limitations. Vinod Vazhapuli, the Skanem India Managing director adds, “Skanem will be hyper aggressive to expand in big way to increase our portfolio in labels, expand in flexo with improved, enhanced and technically advanced capabilities. As for digital, we will invest in more, to offer advanced and innovative solutions. With these capabilities we will be able to put heart and mind into labels.”

Vinod Vazhapulli is a qualified Mechanical Engineer with experience of over 23 years in industries like Automotive; Pharma Engineering; Tooling; Textile Engineering; Printing & Labelling. He has in the past, handled various international markets like USA, Canada, Mexico & Central America, Asia Pacific, Australia / New Zealand, Latin America, Europe. He has held P&L responsibility in the capacity of a Business Head, then as the CEO of an NSE/BSE Listed Manufacturing company and the Director of a UK company alongside, for a period of 2 Years and now the Managing Director of Skanem India. During his professional career, he has been bestowed with “Exemplary Leadership” award by ABP News, the Thought leadership & World Quality congress & Yes Bank, for the year 2018 under the Manufacturing segment; Featured and Ranked 35th & 32nd in the Power100 List of one hundred Most Influential Leaders in Print & Packaging Industry in India for the year 2020 & 2021, respectively. He was awarded, the Indian Achievers Award for excellence, leadership & innovation in Print & Packaging industry for the year 2021. He was a part of two Patent submissions in the field of Surface finish and Metallurgy.

He was also the part of National committee for Capital Goods & Engineering of both CII (Confederation of Indian Industries) & FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industries), two of the most important and powerful Industrial associations in India, during the year 2017, as part of his professional journey. Vinod worked in Skanem for a year in 2016, heading the machines business (label applicators) as VP and Business head. In between, after a stint in Indian Card Clothing LTD. as their CEO, he returned to Skanem in 2019 as the Managing Director.

Commenting further on Skanem’s digital indulgence Vinod stresses that they are always abreast with modern technologies and as for now, digital for them is the one that enables them to produce smart labels. They are convinced that smart labels educate customers as they possess virtual reality to communicate which the customers enjoy. In lighter vein Vinod expresses an example, that a whiskey connoisseur would always like to read the label to find information on labels as to where the product was distilled and what kind of casks were used to mature and whether it is a blend or a single malt. Similarly, a wine label tells all what a wine lover needs to know regarding the types of grapes used, the region they come from, the year of production and a lot more information. Digital label printing gives that window of opportunity to cater to such demanding connect with the end consumer. Digitally printed labels are different from analogue converted ones which are non-interactive, to being interactive labels.

Such digitalisation, to variably print and communicate is ably provided by the digital label presses. Skanem was one of the first investors in an HP Indigo label press, “We were very first HP Customer” says Vinod. With the meaningful smile he says, “we look forward to HP giving us a good deal for the next HP Indigo.” Skanem’s experience with HP Indigo label press has been good, it gave them an edge with print buyers when they explained their enhanced capabilities. They have the flexo label presses but additionally with HP, it certainly helps to impress upon the customer about enhanced capabilities like short runs, customisation, immediate delivery runs, all of this has helped augment their business.

Cost is a deterrent but the ability to produce special types of labels does bring better realisation. They are sure that in coming times the true potential of the HP machine will become more evident. A specific example is Dettol label campaign, celebrating the covid warriors, done during the pandemic. Even though there was non-preparedness and manpower shortage, the job had to be done in specific period. It was because of digital capabilities they could run three million labels within span of 10 to 12 days. Without HP, they say, it was not possible. It was a noble gesture by the brand owners, and Skanem substantiated it by delivering in time because of digital capabilities. It enhanced the brand owner’s emotional connect with their customer. Indians are very emotional and the sacrificed space on labels for a human cause, narrating touching stories was satisfying and well received by consumers, enhancing brand value.

Unprecedented price rise, shortages, and the war in Ukraine, created an imperative need for just in time deliveries and customisation plus the generational differences as well, drove the need for digital presses.

Skanem endeavours to educate customers in appealing to the conscience and emotional quotient of people to deliver to their aspirations. Multinationals want large volumes, just in time deliveries, along with consistency. They talk about sustainability, circular economy, and carbon footprints while the start-ups need support in smaller quantities, they want to add different information, pictures and motifs with digital capabilities be delivered as per needs. Skanem as a globally responsible corporate try to add value to the products that they supply to their digitally printed label customers, both the large and small. The company has own plans and systems to support them for these important issues. Digital provides opportunity to produce small run of labels to test market products before going in for mass production. It complements analogue, when one is successful with test marketing and volumes increase, they can switch over to analogue. Typical customer for digital labels, are from industries like tyre, agro chemicals, dietary supplements, cosmetics, etc.

The Indian population of 1.5 billion people is largely young, adding up to almost 60% of them in the productive working age. With change in the joint family system, more and more young working people are living separate from families and eating out or trying to have ready to heat and eat meals, a segment that is bound to grow exponentially.

This segment will give a definite fillip to digitally printed labels demand. Today’s youth have entrepreneurial urges and they are setting up start-ups that need short runs, they just want to do things differently, differentiate their products segment wise from giant brands, by the way they present them, informing users about carbon footprints, organic nature, and unique packages with short, personalised, and variable runs. Skanem finds the HP Indigo press as the perfect equipment to support these young entrepreneurs and provide them the “wings of hope.”

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi July 2022

You don’t see it right away, but food packaging is quite complex. Due to diverse requirements placed on packaging, it often consists of several laminated films layers of different chemical compositions. Each of these has a specific function. The problem is: Packaging that consists of several plastics makes recycling difficult or even impossible. 

hubergroup Print Solutions, have put a lot of thought into how to enable a modern, recycling-friendly design for food packaging and found that barrier coatings provide a real alternative. Their new HYDRO-LAC GA Oxygen Barrier Coating, for example, protects packaged food from oxygen and, thus, enables mono-film packaging, which can be recycled much more easily. To take advantage of this property, food manufacturers only need to use film laminates consisting of a single type of polymer, usually polypropylene or polyethene, with a layer of oxygen barrier coating in between. Under industrial conditions, an OTR [oxygen transmission rate] of less than 10 cubic centimetres of oxygen per square metre and day can be achieved, when using polypropylene, for instance. Dr Ralf Büscher, Senior Expert Projects Flexible Packaging at hubergroup, concludes: “Our new barrier coating is ideally suitable for oxygen-sensitive food such as muesli or nuts because it protects them from atmospheric oxygen. This enables food packaging supporting the circular economy.” 

Last year, hubergroup has already launched the HYDRO-X GA Water Barrier Coating, which provides protection against water and, thereby, replaces a polyethene (PE) film lamination as a water barrier. As a result, packaging designers can choose pure paper instead of laminate structures for packaging moisture-sensitive foods such as flour or dry animal food – and the packaging can be recycled in the already well-established recycling system for paper packaging.  

adphosNIR ® systems are perfect for increasing production and improving print images in digital printing, conventional printing or hybrid applications. They also offer upgrades, retrofits or replacements for existing drying systems for digital presses, hybrid presses (conventional/digital) or finishing lines.

Benefits of adphosNIR ® technology:

  • Lower operating costs through:
  • Increased production speed, productivity and throughput
  • Less energy consumption compared to other systems
  • Reduces rejects due to the fast response times of the systems
  • Due to the low influence of the adphosNIR ® radiation on the substrate (less heating, formation of waves, rippling), higher productivity can be achieved in the further processing lines.
  • Higher quality end products (direct mail, books, publications, bank statements):
  • Less waving and frizzing due to minimized thermal stress

Applications:

Inkjet drying

  • Drying of water-based inkjet inks up to 1,000 m/min (3,000 ft/min)
  • Drying of inks on temperature-sensitive substrates – including plastics
  • Special solutions for booster dryers for existing inkjet printing machines

Inkjet integration

  • Integration of imprinting systems into traditional printing presses and finishing lines in black, solid color and four-color printing
  • Experience with the integration of all inkjet technologies – continuous, pieze and thermal
  • Solutions for print head positioning, inkjet drying and entire printing towers
  • A large number and options such as web handling and print image inspection are available

Coatings/Adhesives

  • Solutions for high-speed drying of waterborne pre- and post-coatings
  • Ideal for drying water-based adhesives (envelope gluing)

Avery Dennison Corporation (announced it has acquired the linerless label technology developed by Catchpoint Ltd, a UK company based in Yorkshire, England.

The purchase covers Catchpoint’s patents, brand, trade secrets and know-how. Arrangements have been made to ensure the continued support of the Catchpoint team. Under the agreement, Avery Dennison will honor Catchpoint’s existing commercial agreements.

“With the acquisition of Catchpoint, Avery Dennison will have intellectual property that helps us fulfill two of our main 2030 sustainability goals: to deliver innovations that advance the circular economy, and to reduce environmental impact in operations and technology,” says Noel Kasmi, VP Marketing, Avery Dennison Label and Packaging Materials EMENA. “As we are pushing to make linerless labels available widely to our customers, this technology will help us move more quickly, enabling sustainable and cost-saving solutions to reach our customers around the world more rapidly. This is world class technology that will deliver real benefits to our customers and the environment.”  

A key strategic priority for Avery Dennison is to innovate in the area of more sustainable product solutions. Linerless labels are one area of opportunity in this area, with the potential not only to reduce liner waste, but also related production and transport costs as well.

“We are excited for Avery Dennison to be acquiring our technology with the intent of making its products more sustainable. Combining our technology with Avery Dennison’s scale, market position and industrial know-how represents an amazing opportunity, a worthy destination for our journey to bring linerless labelling to the market,” said Mike Cooper, Business Development Director Catchpoint Ltd.