If the number of visitors at recent printing and packaging shows is an indicator of growth in demand, it sure is a time that indicates that demand is rising, and the shadow of gloom spread by the pandemic seems to have faded if not disappeared completely. So scary was the impact of Covid-19 that despite the resilience this industry portrayed, all investments were put on hold as uncertainty prevailed. Indians are largely brought up such that as a deliverance of heritage, when anyone questions, “how is business?” Most of the times the prompt answer is, “Good!” This is expressed so, even though there may be a slowdown or other challenges in the workplace. However, when an Indian answers “Very Good” with a broad smile, like we have witnessed at the recent packaging shows, it surely indicates happier times are back again.

The exhibition industry has faced some of the most challenging times due to the pandemic but when the shows returned, the number of visitors and participants have been on the rise. Last May 2022, as PrintPack India drew to a close, reviewing that event , Noel D’Cunha managing editor of Printweek India wrote, “A feeling of business returning back to normal was apparent”. Many found that despite two postponements and the scare of Covid, the Greater Noida event to be busier and more successful than expected. IPAMA, the organisers of Printpack reported 1,03,412 visitors from 52 countries visited the show that was showcased by 487 companies. In July 2022 PackPlus in New Delhi also reported success with 12239 visitors and 153 exhibitors. Labelexpo Americas in September 2022 saw 362 exhibitors and 13,569 visitors from 77 countries including India. It is surprising that many Indians travelled such long distance for a label show. Later in November 2022 Labelexpo India also reported a triumphant return after a hiatus of 4 years, they reported over 12000 visitors, a 22% increase over the  last show with 250 exhibitors.

After being postponed for over a year, Pamex 2023 being organized in Mumbai from 27th to 30th March 2023 is heading for a massive success. The last edition of the show witnessed over 35,000 visitors and 375 exhibitors. The current edition of the show is slated to be 25% larger than the previous one.

It will be spread over 12,000 square meters in 3 halls with 425 exhibitors and the organisers are expecting over 40,000 visitors. According to Anil Arora President Print-Packaging.com, the organizer of Pamex, “despite no direct participation from Chinese exhibitors, the show will be at least 25% larger in terms of space sold over the last edition. We hope to see a similar growth in visitor footfalls”. The label, printing and packaging industry is already optimistic and looking towards a great show with networking opportunities with not just national but also global peers.

There are diverse estimates of the market size of the packaging industry in India but a conservative figure hint at close to USD 200 billion growing at around 10%, but this all includes many segments of packaging. The Indian pressure sensitive label industry is a miniscule portion of the total packaging industry though it is the largest segment of the overall labels industry. Labels have now moved into different tangents like wet glue, shrink sleeves, wrap around, in-mold labels, etc. The global pressure sensitive label market is estimated at about 50 billion US Dollars.

As for the market size of pressure sensitive labels industry in India, it has been estimated at very diverse figures. The author’s personal estimate has always been considered higher, but the author asserts it is more realistic and estimated on strength of his experience in the Indian market. The finished label market size according to the author’s personal estimate is between Rupees 4500-5000 Crores which by current conversion rate amounts to 610 million US Dollar. The figure translates in less than 1.5% of the global pressure sensitive label market size, indicating a huge potential for growth. This estimate includes all the labels in roll form, sheet form, Barcode/EDP labels, plain labels and manually produced pressure sensitive or self-adhesive labels.

Current trends as witnessed from the moves and actions of the labels and packaging industry indicate a robust growth in capacities. The increased demand for packaging has been witnessed with the advent of developments in ecommerce, tempting more and more consumers to make purchases online from within the confines of their homes. Innovative and attractive labels and packaging ensure a greater brand recall without dependence on shop shelves to decide what to buy and where to buy. There have been challenges due to a dire need for sustainability, but the good thing is industry is now making efforts for the betterment of humanity by taking these challenges positively. Now industry is moving away voluntarily from single use plastics, compostable or bio-degradable, using materials that are recyclable or reusable and reducing adverse impact on environment.

New investments are being made with such sustainable measures in mind. Reducing production waste, producing to economies of scale and managing waste responsibly  are imperatives considered when expansions are being made.

Another change that one has witnessed in the last few packaging shows is that the Make-in-India effect has become evident and acceptable not just for consumer products but also for equipment and tooling. It was interesting  to see so many Indian label press manufacturers offering good acceptable quality equipment that is comparable to the international presses.

All the press manufacturers who exhibited at the labelexpo India reported sales and some of them multiple sales with information of them having made numerous installations successfully not only in India but also around the world. The Make in India concept was not limited to press manufacturers, there were Indigenous manufacturers of magnetic cylinders, anilox rolls, tooling, inspection systems, plate mounters and in fact the whole gamut of requirements of the printing and converting fraternity. The best part is that the offerings not only perform fairly well but are also affordable and come within the reach of middle level printers and converters.

With the middle level printing companies increasing their capabilities by investing in new India-made modular all-UV and all-Servo presses with all accessories as in the international brands, there is intense competition. Such label printers have an advantage as the impact of the capital expense on input cost is substantially reduced.

Thus, there is a need for the top end printers to further enhance their capabilities by investing in higher end equipment with hybrid printing presses employing diverse printing technologies including digital, gravure, screen and offset besides flexo, embellishing and innovative possibilities, quick changeovers, reduced dependence on manpower, faster job setup with high-end automated registration controls ensuring minimal setup waste, lower energy consumption, nonstop continuous production for longer runs, etc. There is compelling evidence of new demands from print buyers.  The industry is in an evolutionary phase, on one side there is increasing competition due to increasing number of label printers on the other hand, print buyers big and small are also demanding  short runs with digital printing for variable and personalized labels. It is time when the sustainably endeavors indicate efforts to cut down on secondary packaging, the need for higher end more embellished labels with security features are in demand to aid aesthetics that will enhance brand value. The growing Indian population and increased literate workforce is ensuring an increase in demand with better labels and packaging. At this time when the growth is becoming evident, the better equipped and the fittest will excel!

Written By Harveer Sahni, Chairman, Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi  March 2023

Global leader in Corona treatment, Vetaphone A/S will exhibit at Pamex International Exhibition from 27th to 30th March 2023, Stand No. G5 Hall No. 2 along with their exclusive Indian agent Weldon Celloplast Limited.

Corona surface treatment is essential in label printing. When the label is made from plastic substrate the ink tends to become blemished due to its inability to bond to the plastic. This problem occurs because the surface energy of the plastic is insufficient to permit a proper bond. A quality Corona treatment is necessary to ensure the perfect label print quality. Vetaphone Corona systems help obtain a flawless and long-lasting quality print. Adding Vetaphone Corona treater to web press, often eliminates the need for using top-coated materials.

Weldon Celloplast Ltd. New Delhi India. Weldon established in 1982, are providers of total label manufacturing solutions with exclusive representation of leading international equipment brands as principals.

Exclusive Agents in India:

K D Sahni


Weldon Celloplast Limited

304, 3rd Floor, 9/2 East Patel Nagar,

New Delhi-110008 India

Telephone: +91 11 25740089

email: info@weldoncelloplast.com website: www.weldoncelloplast.com

Blog: http://harveersahni.blogspot.com     

Total flexo solutions…materials to machines

  • Suitable for flexographic printing on film substrates with solvent inks
  • Offers exceptional and consistent print quality with finest highlight dots
  • Optimized for both bank and LED exposure for reduced complexity
  • New formulation is less prone to plate swelling

XSYS has announced the introduction of nyloflex® FTV Digital, a hard durometer photopolymer plate for flexographic printing of flexible packaging with solvent inks. Developed with inherent flat-top dot technology and a smooth plate surface, the new plate formulation will appeal to customers serving brand owners who require the highest-quality printing of film-based substrates, while also offering maximum flexibility and higher productivity.  

“Our customers are under constant pressure to deliver consistent print results quicker and more efficiently,” said Simon Top, Product Manager at XSYS. “With the nyloflex® FTV Digital, XSYS has introduced the latest plate innovation for the printing of high-end flexible packaging. Moreover, the new plate does not require any changes to existing solvent digital washout processing equipment or any additional costs from auxiliaries or consumables.”

In combination with standard bank exposure, the nyloflex® FTV Digital can hold the finest highlight dots resulting in a wider tonal range and achieve excellent solid ink densities in combination with surface screenings. In the print room, higher OEE can be achieved thanks to its AIF (anti-ink filling) technology for longer and cleaner print runs with solvent based inks. As the new formulation is less prone to plate swelling, benefits also include reduced plate waste and longer durability on press. High consistency and excellent repeatability is achieved due to the 1:1 image transfer on the plate, making it suitable for optional surface screenings. The new plate works exceptionally well with ThermoFlexX Woodpecker surface screening patterns, including Woodpecker Sharp and Nano, as well as being ideal for extended gamut printing.

Unlike similar plates in the market, nyloflex® FTV Digital has been developed to achieve brilliant quality regardless of whether it is exposed using conventional UV-A tube lights or LED UV-A light technology, before being processed in a solvent washout system. The LED-optimized plate formulation makes the nyloflex® FTV Digital plate perfectly suited for exposure on the ThermoFlexX Catena-E unit, resulting in superior Overall Equipment Effeciency (OEE) in plate production. “The nyloflex® FTV Digital offers customers the best of both worlds because it is equally efficient in both conventional bank exposure and newer LED systems. Since it also reduces complexity in the plate room, it perfectly complements our portfolio for the high end flexible packaging market. Next to well-established nyloflex® NEF Digital, which was the first LED-optimized plate for the high-end flexible packaging segment, we can now offer a second LED-optimized plate that also brings excellent print results with bank exposure.” commented Simon Top. “The new plate will give those customers who plan to move to LED exposure, such as our Catena-E technology, an easy and straightforward path to the future with a market-leading quality.”

He concluded, “As always, XSYS’ goal is to enable our customers to be brilliant and help them reduce complexities in the plate room, while increasing their productivity and quality with best-in-class innovations. We have already received excellent customer feedback proving that with the nyloflex® FTV Digital, we are definitely achieving just that.”

Avery Dennison acquires Thermopatch, a leader in industrial laundry labeling, heat transfers and emblems on textiles, advances the company’s strategy to drive growth in external embellishments.

Avery Dennison announced today that it has completed its acquisition of Thermopatch, a leader specializing in labeling, embellishments, and transfers for the sports, industrial laundry, workwear and hospitality industries. Thermopatch will become part of the company’s Solutions Group. The acquisition will allow the combined business to build on collective industry knowledge, leveraging the company’s know-how, quality, and service to drive growth in external embellishments. Thermopatch, headquartered in Syracuse, New York, had revenues of approximately $40 million in 2022, with around 200 employees, with operations in North America and Europe.

“We are thrilled to welcome Thermopatch into the Avery Dennison family. It’s an excellent strategic fit for expanding our position in embellishments, labels and transfers,” said Michael Barton, senior vice president and general manager, Apparel Solutions, Solutions Group. “We continue to accelerate our progress within our external embellishments business, going from strength to strength and entering new markets. In doing so, we are building on last year’s launch of Embelex, Avery Dennison’s full-service, end-to-end platform for on-product branding, graphics and trims, and accelerating our strategy to drive growth and innovation in this market. Combining Thermopatch and our strong product portfolio and long-standing customer relationships will enable us to continue to grow and deliver value for all our stakeholders.”

“This next chapter is a great opportunity for us,” said Tom DePuit, CEO of Thermopatch. “I am proud of what we as a business have accomplished over the last 85 years, and I am confident that Thermopatch will continue to thrive. With the combined capabilities of both businesses, we can further advance innovation and provide increased value for our customers and the industries we serve while continuing to deliver the same quality of service.” Thermopatch is now an Avery Dennison Company

The Indian print industry has a reputation for being a boy’s club, but there are women carving a niche in the Indian printing and packaging segment, with many in leadership roles.

PrintWeek is celebrating the power of women with The Women to Watch Awards in 2023. The Women to Watch Awards are for outstanding women who lead, inspire, and motivate greatness in the printing and packaging community. As part of PrintWeek’s commitment to promote the advancement of diversity, inclusion, and equality in the printing industry, these awards, in their first ever year, celebrate the achievements of India’s business leaders, change makers, trailblazers, and rising stars.

Harveer Sahni of Weldon Celloplast is of the opinion that when women in print-packaging do receive public attention, it tends to be the rare CEO. Once upon a time, Indian family businesses were always handed down from father to son. Not any longer. The trend is changing. Across the print and packaging industry, more and more women scions can be seen at the frontline of their family business.

Also there are women technocrats, who populate every level of print-packaging – management, production, education and finance.  “In label manufacturing, there is Honey Vazirani. She’s an amazing story of a leading label lady,” said Sahni.

Vazirani’s first visit to a packaging company was in 1989. Having been shortlisted as a management trainee for The Paper Products, India’s largest and oldest flexible packaging company then, she was visiting the factory for my final interview. “The journey from Santacruz (Western Mumbai suburbs) to Thane was an adventure in itself. I started to wonder whether I could do that 33km commute every day,” said Vazirani. “But once I visited the production floor, my first ever manufacturing plant tour, I was in love with the technology, the printing presses and the pulse of a manufacturing floor. And that fascination continues to date.” From The Paper Products to leading the Fuji Seal India team, Vazirani has taken the label world in her stride.

With the Women to Watch Awards, PrintWeek/WhatPackaging? will celebrate and salute women in print-packaging – from the plant floor to the executive office, who are making a difference. “It’s a great initiative, one that will cause the Indian print-packaging industry to evolve and encourage more of their peers to join the party,” said Sahni.

For more information, contact Kalpak Shah at kalpak.shah@haymarketsac.com

Founded in 1998, Tarsus, the owners of Labelexpo series around the world has grown to become a well-known and respected name in the B2B events industry. Tarsus has been owned by Charterhouse Capital Partners since 2019. Informa, the international Academic Markets, B2B Markets and Digital Services Group has announced the acquisition of Tarsus for $940M. Informa has reached agreement with Charterhouse Capital Partners and other shareholders to acquire Tarsus, for an initial enterprise value of $940m. The Informa Board believes the combination is both commercially and financially compelling, with strong portfolio alignment that will deliver enhanced value for customers, additional opportunities for colleagues and attractive returns for shareholders.

Stephen A. Carter, Group Chief Executive, Informa, said: ”We have long admired the Tarsus business which, like Informa, has been built around major brands in attractive, specialist B2B markets in the growing regions of Asia, China, the Middle East and the Americas.”

Douglas Emslie, Chief Executive, Tarsus added: ”I am extremely proud of the Tarsus business, our people and our customers. I could not think of a better partner than Informa to lead our brands and colleagues through the next phase of growth and expansion.”

The acquisition is funded with cash and $210m of new Informa shares  In 2023, Tarsus full year revenues are estimated to be more than £175m.

The Informa and Tarsus portfolios are complementary, both geographically and by market category, strengthening Informa’s position across a number of verticals including:

• Beauty & Aesthetics: A4M, LiVDerm, South Beach Symposium

• Healthcare: Health Connect Partners, PAINWeek, Cardiometabolic Health Congress

• Packaging: LabelExpo (US, Mexico, Europe, China, Thailand, India)

• Infrastructure: Intertraffic, Rail+Metro, Infrastructure Connect, Cambuild

• Aviation: Dubai Airshow, MEBAA Show, Space Tech Expo

• Sustainability: Intersolar, Mexico Wind Power, Aquatech Mexico

• Homewares: Home Furnishing Expo Shenzhen (Hometex), Zuchex

• Fashion: SIUF Show, OFFPRICE

 Driving profitability in labels, with embellishments, digital printing & hybrid printing

Self-adhesive or pressure sensitive labels industry in India has grown steadily right from the time of its initial entry into India to be indigenously produced in the mid-1960s when a screen printer manually created the first label. Thereafter, label manufacturing has evolved and completely transformed  technically over the years. Initially, small and slow very narrow web letter presses, 4 or 5inch wide, from the eastern part of the world were used to print with blocks and die-cut labels with flatbed dies in roll form. These presses eventually started going wider in printing width with growth in demand. The need for increased production in 1980s brought in the adoption of rotary flexographic printing presses. However, since the flexo plate technology was just evolving, usage of letterpress block printing was still growing. It was in the new millennium that developments brought in prepress and plate making technologies, made it possible for printers to decrease their dependence on letterpress printing technology and invest in flexo presses that eventually became modular and print widths going wider with increased speeds.

Toward the middle of the first decade of the new millennium, the pop and Mom retail stores, known as Kirana stores catering to consumers, started being replaced by the entry of organized retail outlets and with it, came the increase in demand for labels and packaging. When it was realized the customer’s point of purchase decision to lift the product off the shelf is the driver for sales, brands felt the imperative need for attractive labels and packaging. Different print technologies started being employed and presses with advanced capabilities started being developed and offered. While all this transformation was happening, the label industry in India was all along registering a robust double-digit growth. It was largely accepted fact that even though labels are a very small part of the large packaging industry, it was more profitable. Due to this, the number of label printers kept growing, investments also came in from established offset printing companies. With cheaper label presses coming from China and availability of good affordable machines in India, the label printing capacities have grown exponentially. This increase in capacities, the pandemic, the strikes in Finnish paper mills, the Ukraine war, the re-emergence of Covid in China,  etc. brought the margins in the labels industry under intense  pressure. Raw material prices have since escalated, freight rates, salaries and overheads have increase while competition does not leave room for increase in selling prices. In such a difficult scenario, label converters are looking at options to drive in profitability.

Opinion and comments of label printers across India was sought on how to drive-in better margins in the label production in the given circumstances. Three questions were posed to all, their response is somewhat similar, yet some do have apprehensions about the steps that are suggested whether they will actually drive in margins? However still, a direction on the way forward appears to be an imperative. The  printers in the diverse geographical zones who contributed their views are as follows;


Anuj Bhargava, Kumar Labels NOIDA hereinafter referred to as (AB)

Rajeev Chhatwal, Kwality Offset New Delhi (RC)


Mahendra Shah, Renault Paper, Palghar (MS)

Himanshu Kapur, J K Fine Prints Mumbai (HK)

Priyank Vasa, Unick fix-a-form, Ahmedabad (PV)


Manoj Kochhar, Holoflex Kolkata (MK)

South:Raveendran Selvarajan, Seljegat Sivakasi (RS)

Lakshminarayanan Parthasarthy, Signode India Ltd. (Wintek) Bangalore (LP)

Question: Do you agree that Embellishments, Digital printing & Hybrid printing or converting are important steps to get better prices for labels?

AB: Yes, value added labels do add to margins. However still, the main buyers are few. Startups or premium products cannot add volumes where multiple players offer value additions. 

RC: Embellishments certainly will get you a better price if you have a technical edge over your competition. Just a  different printing process does not get you more price from customers. One needs to decide which process to use to get better return based on machine capabilities .

Hybrid is still not suited for the Indian Market. However good converting and finishing is important for short runs on digital to reduce wastage.

MS: Yes, I agree. With increase of just-in-time orders, shorter runs and demand for innovations,  it is economical and faster to produce with Digital printing. Embellishments complemented with other capabilities, aid improvement in value addition.

HK: More technical the labels are, better is the margin. Unfortunately, large companies expect more for less. The basics of costing has been lost by most label converters. Embellishments also add to costs, but to recover those costs is difficult.

PV: We aim for the best process fit for a job, be it digital, flexo, hybrid or offset. That is the only way to master production cost. Digital embellishment always gives an edge and keeps business secure but does not always guarantee increased profitability, it comes with its own limitations. 

MK: I agree that Embellishments, Digital printing & Hybrid printing or converting are important steps to get better prices for labels. Value addition invariably leads to a better realization. Brand protection elements such as hologram, security inks, security designing also add value.

RS: Not only embellishments, but also innovations along with having capabilities for attending to needs of customers are important. If food and pharma customer needs labels with water-based inks, we need to have those capabilities. If they need booklet labels it becomes an imperative to be able to create them. Every printing process has its own specialty so when you are able to create labels with Hybrid and digital technologies, then of course selling prices are better.

LP: QR codes and AR (Augmented Reality) in labels, connecting consumer to the brand – is what we see as way forward for profitability . Embellishment leads to aesthetics, shelf appeal, increased sale and brand value for better profits to the buyers and converters.

Question: Have you taken any steps in this direction to increase your capabilities?

AB: We are always focused to value added labels. We have capabilities do embellishments like 3-D effects, embossing, textured foiling, screen printing and many other such processes that enhance the aesthetics of product.

RC: We have already invested in converting equipment with finishing and embellishing capabilities like foiling, Screen printing, Lamination etc. Our range of labels includes- Foil stamped/embossed labels, labels with tactile effects, Laminated, 3-D embossed, Variable data and Holographic labels etc.

MS: Since long, our customer profile is such that embellishments and employment of multiple print technologies is an imperative, for this reason we invested in hybrid presses many years back. Currently to achieve just in time capabilities we are investing in digital printing which will also give us additional production time on our main printing presses.

HK: We have always invested to be a capable company, right from inception so have the capacity to do all types of embellishments.

PV: Yes, we have added digital capabilities. Having multiple printing technologies at our disposal, enables us to pick and choose processes that are best suited for a particular job depending on the complexity of decoration required. 

MK: We are constantly trying to scale up our capabilities of adding diverse authentication features and other embellishments such as foiling, registered hologram stamping, variable data printing and finding new materials that are unique.

RS: At Seljegat we always endeavour to stay invested and capable with the latest developments. We have already installed machines with multiple capabilities, and we prefer all inline. We can do embellishments, special varnishes, multilayer labels, digital for variable or personalized labels, embossing, etc. We are always ready to cater to the changing needs of customers, nowadays pharma and food companies are demanding labels to be done with water-based inks or low migration inks, we have immediately empowered ourself suitably to serve them. In today’s time if we cannot deliver that extra, then we get lost in the crowd of intense competition.

LP: We are already having all capabilities and exploring AR in labels as next step towards Brand connect and Brand promotion. 

Question: What in your opinion are factors that can drive in better margins? Please mention steps at given prices of inputs.

AB: Label companies should invest in making labelstocks for captive use, negotiate hard while buying machines and for buying raw materials.

RC: As competition gets aggressive, systems need to be designed to reduce wastages, increase productivity and buy raw material at competitive prices. Making our internal systems strong is the only way out to drive-in better margins.

MS: We started the process of optimizing production costs, long time back. We collected data of all ongoing jobs for past 3 years and calibrated all processes as per the following;

a) We dwell on actual time needed for the job and check if the processes are complying with targeted numbers.

b) If not complying what’s the core reason and if for some reasons not meeting norms,  can solutions be found?

c) Evaluating, if no solution is possible, is the job generating profit for the company? 

d) If not , either get the price increase or discard such jobs to save time for more sustainable jobs.

HK: Rather than controlling the input prices on which we have no control, we should focus on getting better prices from clients. We need to factor-in the basics like label waste that is completely non-recyclable and cannot be salvaged. Label machines are capital intensive we must add the impact of cost of investment in the total price of end product.

PV: To improve profitability;

Freight cost management is an imperative, it can save lot of money.

Process improvements and wastage control is necessary. One should start with small steps like exact web sizes, proper sheet layout, special sizes for volume jobs, ink management and keeping a track of low moving stocks.

Refrain from unhealthy competition.

Learn from your mistakes as a team. Take all complaints seriously. Try implementing simple solutions. 

Update monthly  performance chart of individual operators,  give them incentives for faster turnaround and increased capacity utilization. Take corrective steps to reduce downtime due breakdowns. 

·      MK: Key to improve margins is to provide customised solutions by understanding what the customer needs. We try to incorporate various levels of authentication, embellishments and decoration to tailor solutions that best meet their needs. If a customer cannot afford to pay for the hologram, we focus on enhancing the printed authentication features keeping costs under control, and yet get a price that enhances our profitability while the customer appreciates the value we deliver.

RS:  For driving in better margins, the instant reaction is to buy cheaper but if we have to think of steps at given raw material prices then one has to research internally and implement changes. As a first step we have opted for equipment and steps for faster changeover time between jobs to increase productivity. We have invested in a system for make ready to be completed before one job ends. The changeover time for us has reduced from one and half hour to just thirty minutes. For job set up we were using fresh labelstock but now we use rejected, old and leftover unusable stocks. Next, we are now switching over to LED UV as its operational and lamp replacement cost is lower. New equipment has been ordered and will be installed soon. We plan to install an automatic butt slicer for non-stop production. Reducing wastages is also on our radar and we constantly work on it.

LP: The following steps are necessary to drive in profits;

Watertight operations, control on wastages and minimising set-up waste.

Reducing overhead costs, improving efficiency and OEE (Overall equipment effectiveness).

Propose embellishments to customer making the label more premium to claim better realisation.


Price increase is an ongoing process, the impact of inflation is felt every year along with that of other unavoidable circumstances. So, manufacturers need to gradually increase selling prices to maintain a healthy bottom line. Unfortunately, that is an ideal scenario but in actual the selling prices are driven by market dynamics and competition. In the present situation, for the label industry, it is time to look internally and evaluate. Based on the views of the printing fraternity it is largely agreed that embellishments, security features and innovative concepts on labels that enhance the shelf appeal and lead to better sales volumes for brands, can help get better prices. The simpler the label is, more is the competition. As indigenously produced label presses have come within the reach of middle level printers, the competition in that segment has become intense. Moreover, with organized retail and ecommerce becoming the predominant selling systems, need for more decorative labels, IT enabled labels and personalized variably printed labels  with security features has escalated.

Not long-ago setup of label jobs took an hour or more with 2 or 3 persons on each press and at least 100 meters of material being used before final saleable production commenced. With increased automation, advanced automatic registration controls, higher speeds, etc. now a single operator can setup a job in just a few meters in about 15-30 minutes, with increased productivity, less wastages and quick changeovers between jobs by keeping the next jobs ready. Using exact size materials and not generating offcuts is also a necessity. These are changes that add to margins and reduced operational expenses.

Food and pharma safety and health concerns are matters of importance for discerning customers, this, along with statutory rules for toxic or unsafe materials used in converting labels, are to be avoided. There is an increased demand for non-migration and water-based inks because UV inks are considered somewhat hazardous for direct food contact and skin contact applications. Printers need to have such capabilities to supply as demanded by print buyers. Most companies feel that to reduce costs there is need for internal production systems and the workflow to be strengthened or monitored continuously to reduce downtimes at each stage, opt for more automation to reduce manpower and use energy efficient machines, equipment or systems.

Finally, time has come when EPR (Extended producer responsibility) compliance has become mandatory. Sustainability and circular economy are becoming a social responsibility for earth to be a safer planet. Large FMCG companies and brands have already started opting for or expressing preference to buy from certified green companies. It will not be out of place that producing in compliance, may as well add to cost but it may also qualify for better pricing for this good social cause.

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi February 2023

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.


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.


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