In my early years when I worked for my parental company Weldon Sales Corporation established in 1939, manufacturing stationary products like Weldon Fountain pen inks and office glues besides a range of stationary products, I remember that we used to affix paper labels on glass bottles using water-based adhesives. Initially these were solutions of gum Arabic and later we switched over to starch based adhesives produced by us captively. These worked well on glass bottles or paper-based packaging, the only challenge was that we had to wait for the adhesive to dry before putting these into secondary or tertiary packs as the labels would shift if packed wet compromising the appearance of the product. The same issue was encountered by the beer industry which continues to face it, at least for some brands that still rely on adhesives that do not address this problem. Since glass packaging was heavy and was susceptible to breakages in transit the introduction of plastic HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) bottles came as a big relief at that time. HDPE that was invented in 1953, started being initially imported and later produced in India by Polyolefin Industries Ltd. a Mafatlal Group Company under license from Hoechst Germany, in the late 1960s. HDPE plastic bottles came as a big innovative development for the liquid packaging industry. When we at Weldon started using outsourced Plastic bottles, later manufacturing them in-house, labeling them brought fresh problems.

The labels affixed with water-based adhesives, on drying would fall off in transit or get wrinkled. This was because of the reason that HDPE is a low-energy polymer and for normal water-based adhesives to form a permanent bond is a problem.  For some round bottles, we started using wrap-around labels as then the label would come around and get pasted paper to paper. It was during this period after 1965 that the earliest self-adhesive labels started being produced in India and in the 1970s their usage in the packaging of products started to increase. These labels would bond instantly, would not need drying and would not shift in packaging , also aiding the aesthetics so their usage spread quickly and widely. It was that time we at Weldon also shifted to self-adhesive labels or pressure-sensitive labels. The rest of the evolution of Self-Adhesive labels is history and is still an ongoing process.

Adhesives: Pressure-sensitive adhesive(PSA) labels is now one of the fastest growing segments in a world of diverse labeling technologies. It provides accuracy of clean labeling and options to use a variety of adhesives for  application on different surfaces in most environments, including temperature, humidity, exposure to UV, etc. Advancements in products and their packaging require labels to perform in extreme and demanding parameters.

Some food and pharma products require the labels to perform at very low temperatures, typical are for ice cream, pharma and vaccines that require extremely low temperature for storage. Synthetic adhesives that are in use nowadays harden at very low temperatures and tend to fall off so must be formulated to withstand the application and storage conditions. These adhesive soften at high temperatures therefore signages and labels that must be used for outdoor in diverse environments, withstand UV light and heat build up due continuous exposure to sun also need adhesives specially formulated to perform for the duration of their lifetime. Direct PSA labels application on food products like fresh fruits and vegetables is now in use and labels must be certified safe for direct food contact and that they should not have adhesive or inks from which plasticizer may migrate into the product. Coming to labeling on low energy surfaces like HDPE bottles mentioned above, though the label sticks well but in these days of increased incidence of anti-counterfeiting, pilferage and tampering, the label with standard general purpose adhesive can be pulled off cleanly by an experienced hacker or counterfeiter. So, the adhesives are an important and integral part of evolving trends in self-adhesive labels. A lot of development has been done on these lines and continue to be taken up to produce special formulations that conform to the specific requirements.

Substrates and embellishments: As customers grow in numbers, segments, literacy, urbanisation and geographical spread, the packaging development managers are attempting to create innovations in partnership with label printers to woo the consumers, increase the shelf appeal of products and increase brand recalls.

Moving from simple label substrates like uncoated maplitho or uncoated woodfree paper, now the selection of substrate is as per the imagination or creative ideas of the label developers. The label face materials can be selected from a wide range of options available like semigloss paper, metallised papers or films, textured paper, various clear or opaque films, fabric, cork, lenticular films, holographic paper or films and anything that emanates out of a creative designer’s mind. As for embellishments, there was a time when either using a cast coated paper or a good varnish were the only options, but now a whole world of new ways to embellish labels has erupted. Using multiple printing technologies to get the best of every printing process, adding value to win customers and beat competition is becoming a necessity for printers. Today we see labels being made in-line in a single pass employing a combination of flexographic printing for spot colours or pantones, offset to create vignettes or skin tones, screen for higher deposition of ink, rotogravure to get the best results of metallic inks, cold foil, hot foil, using a variety of varnishes to create effects like textures, high gloss, matt, silk finish or just spot varnish, embossing and debossing to bring amazing results in the finished labels. We see printers create labels with raised effects like dew drops, print that seems to give the look and feel of wood and fruits with pulp, giving a natural effect. Adding further to the capabilities, now printers are employing digital printing either in combination as mentioned or as repass to do variable printing and or personalization. The options are getting to be limitless.

Security Labelling: Increasing number of instances of duplication, counterfeiting and pilferage has created a need for security to be made an important part of labeling.

Counterfeiting products is a problem not only limited to pharmaceuticals industry, but it also affects 5 to 7 percent of global trade. It has impacted other industries as well, such as electronics, automotive parts, spirits, consumer products and high-end cosmetics. Earlier security labels were only with security cuts incorporated at the time of die cutting, then specialized stocks with overt and covert features like the Void labels started being used followed by destructible labels. Holograms also have been largely employed and is now hologram production is a large segment of label industry. With development in pre-press and printing technologies printers use micro printing which is not visible to naked human eyes and other such printing methods used in printing currency to inbuild security in labels. Barcodes are also being largely employed to play an important role in security in labels besides aiding variable statutory information, track n trace information, inventory and logistical data. A very important development in recent times has been Intelligent labels that include near field communication (NFC) or radio frequency identification (RFID) to perform a wide variety of tasks. Integrating these capabilities with traditional labels is one of the most dramatic development in labeling.

Printing Equipment: The narrow web self-adhesive label manufacturing commenced in India in the first half of 1970s on small, about 4-5inches label presses imported from far eastern countries mostly from Japan at that time. These small narrow web presses that did block printing were extremely slow about 5 meters per minute but still did the printing and die cutting inline in a single pass, that was its USP.

It may appear strange to the younger printers of today that there were no drying arrangements in these presses. Printers would print and then hang the printed rolls of labels on a clothesline for drying before rerolling them on a core and sending to customers. Shop floors of narrow web label printers would look like washing yards referred to in India as “Dhobhi ghat”. The printing technologies with time went through continuous changes. The flatbed block printing made way for semi-rotary intermittent letterpress using polymer plates. With improvement in Flexo ink and plate technology, rotary label presses with central impression drum (CI Label Presses) found their way into print shops. These provided faster speeds at increased widths of 7 inches(180mm)-10inches(250mm) and as the buyers became more demanding on colours, speeds and performance, together with further evolution of prepress, advancements in plate making and registration controls, the CI narrow web label presses moved out making way for modular presses using water-based inks with hot air dryers. However, CI presses continued to be used for other applications like lami-tubes and mid-web flexible packaging. Label presses have over the years evolved to print wider web widths of 330mm, 430mm, 530mm and at last Labelexpo presses over 650mm were displayed. Printing speeds have also escalated to over 200meters per minute. In an evolving scenario of rising demands for perfection in print and printers facing challenges in reproducibility, colour variations due to viscosity changes in ink trays and set up wastage, were releived when UV inks, UV lamps for drying and short web path became a standard part of presses. The UV printing also enabled printing and converting filmic labels after addition of corona treaters inline to enhance print adhesion. Some label companies have of now reverted to include a combination of hot air and UV as some food products have witnessed migration of photo initiators in UV inks migrating into the food causing contamination, so the option to print with water-based inks comes in handy to service such requirements. LED UV also is being seen as replacement as there is energy cost saving and better as regards migration issues. Ideal solution maybe Electron Beam curing which is costly but that has still to be accepted by Indian label industry. There is hardly any installation with EB curing for production of narrow web labels in India.

Other evolutions that happened include label presses designed for quick change overs to enable a large number of jobs per day, servo drives to eliminate gears coupled with advanced vision camera systems to achieve perfect registrations in both machine and cross direction without human intervention, better matrix removal, web cleaners to eliminate pinholes and print aberrations, web turn bars to print both sides of the web along with the delam-relam function for enabling printing on back or the adhesive coated side of the web. Movable lamination stations and embellishing stations like foiling add value to the printed labels. Multiple die-stations to enable functions like embossing, debossing, slitting besides simple die cutting or sheeting have become a standard function demanded by high-end printing companies. Change of heavy magnetic cylinders was a cumbersome and time-consuming job requiring manpower and lifting arrangements. Now in a couple of minutes one can slide-out and slide-in a magnetic cylinder.

The pandemic that surfaced in end of 2019 and drastically impacted the whole world and made businesses suffer for all of 2020 and when we are hoping for it to taper off in 2021 providing relief to mankind, it has started to resurface. It has prompted the industry to re-engineer their working. The aim now is to work with less. Workflow management, increased automation, clean room manufacturing, inventory controls, effective management systems, etc.  are the buzzwords that even smaller entrepreneurs understand and are making efforts to implement them.  Automatic butt slicers/reel changing systems to achieve continuous 24X7 production when needed, waste management equipment sucking waste matrix right from the die cutting stage and shredding and inline inspection/colour management systems to reduce rejections which were earlier a preference of only a selected few, but these are now a part of standard equipment configurations envisaged commonly by Label printing  companies planning expansion or planning new setup. The evolution and shifting of trends in self-adhesive labels have been an ongoing process and printers need to adapt the changes as they originate to stay fit, competitive and innovative.

Author’s footnote: Each parameter listed above and many other parameter’s like inks, special adhesives, coatings and machine design are subjects that are to lengthy to be accommodated into one article and need separate coverage. 

Written by Harveer Sahni, Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-India April 2021

Covid-19 or Corona virus that has struck populations in countries across the globe creating a scare that has impacted adversely most affluent economies in the world. Governments are taking very strong measures to curb the proliferation as also find remedies for curing and containing this virus which is already declared a pandemic. Increasing numbers of affected people and deaths have created an alarming situation whereby vast geographical areas are being cordoned off, schools are shut, travel has become restricted, congregation of people is being restricted and businesses are suffering. The global printing industry at large is also facing the brunt of the impact. Important printing events where major buying decisions are taken and seminars that enhance knowledge besides providing networking opportunities have been postponed. Millions have been invested in planning the event by the event organisers, exhibitors and the visitors. Some of the important events that have taken responsible decisions to postpone in view of public safety concerns are as below.

Sri Lanka Print 2020 Colombo
FINAT Technical Seminar Barcelona
Labelexpo SEA Bangkok
LMAI Digital Label printing event Mumbai

PackPlus South 2020 Hyderabad India

Interpack Dusseldorf Germany
Drupa Dusseldorf Germany
FESPA Brazil 2020 Sao Paolo
Fespa Global Print Expo 2020 Madrid
FINAT European Label Forum 2020, Rome is under consideration

The label industry has been greatly impacted by the spreading virus. China and Italy are two major producers and suppliers of label manufacturing equipment, both countries have been hit badly. Covid-19 originated in China and Italy became one of the largest sufferers of this spreading pandemic with tremors of this being felt by label printers across the globe. Even though China has indicated containment of the virus at their end yet since the virus has spread to other countries, governments around the world continue to make travel advisories and entry restrictions to contain the spread in their respective countries.

These travel restrictions or self-control in avoiding travel has greatly impacted the events business. With news of Covid-19 spreading to Spain; FINAT, the European association for the self-adhesive label industry postponed their FINAT Technical Seminar Barcelona. According to Chris Ellison, President of FINAT “Apart from the public health risk, the virus is now also spilling over into the real economy, and members of the label industry are taking measures to contain the risk for their staff’s well-being and their business’ continuity. In some cases, more far-reaching measures are taken than those recommended or enforced by local governments and public health institutes.” He further adds, “We are also reviewing the scenarios for the European Label Forum in Rome next June”.

Tarsus which was looking forward to a successful second Labelexpo southeast Asia at Bangkok has also announced its postponement. According to Lisa Milburn, managing director of Labelexpo Global Series, “We have taken the difficult decision to postpone Labelexpo Southeast Asia 2020 in May due to coronavirus/COVID-19.

This is an unprecedented situation and given the vast amount of preparation that goes into our shows, not a decision we have taken lightly. However, the health and safety of our exhibitors, visitors and staff is our top priority, and working on the advice of our local partners and BITEC, we feel the best course of action is to postpone the show until September.” 

Drupa is the world’s leading trade fair for printing technologies. The last Drupa saw 1828 exhibitors from 54 countries, 260,165 visitors from 183 countries with the largest group from outside Germany coming from India totaling at 5% of the total visitors.  

Until a few days back the Drupa website stated that the event will be held on the stipulated dates and that the organisers were taking adequate steps to screen the visitors as also to sanitize the venue for safety of all. Then on 13th of March 2020 came the press release from Messe Dusseldorf stating that both Drupa and Interpack are postponed. 

A resilient Indian label industry has had its own share of voes over the past few years. Every time it is faced with a challenging situation it recovers to face yet another tough situation. First came the demonetization, hardly had the effect of that had worn off came the implication of GST.

The industry took its time to reconcile and adjust itself on to a growth path but as 2019 was coming to an end the country was facing an economic slowdown stemming the rate of growth. The resilience of this industry segment still makes it go on, sometimes rapidly and other down at a slower pace. Now the Corona virus has brought with it a new kind of situation whereby travel is curtailed, and expansions have gone on hold. With the Indian label industry starting its move in to digital label printing in line with trends in the western world, India’s label association LMAI had planned its 2nd event, “”DIGITAL PRINTING IN LABELS – THE WAY FORWARD” to be held in the evening of March 16th, 2020 at Hotel ITC Maratha Mumbai. The interest in the event got a huge response and was fully sold out two weeks in advance. As the situation of Corona Virus became alarming the LMAI management decided to postpone the event. Amit Sheth founder member of LMAI requesting postponement had said, “The way it is seen it is better to postpone the event. I think this is a National concern!” Commenting on the cancellation Kuldip Goel President LMAI said, “It is so unfortunate that immense effort had gone in preparation but for a humanitarian cause, it was needed to take precaution.!”

While the corona virus goes on unabated it is hoped that the containment happens soon bringing relief to the vast humanity that has got affected. While efforts go on by health authorities globally to find a vaccine, yet it is prudent for all to practice safety as suggested by bonafide governments and certified health authorities.

TLWritten by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Ltd. New Delhi India March 2020

At the last, Indian label industry event, “LMAI  Conference” in 2017 at Jaipur I promised to write the 2nd part of my first article titled  “History of the Indian Label Industry” which I wrote in 2006. It is available in this blog at https://harveersahni.blogspot.com/2010/08/history-of-indian-label-industry.html
I have now written the 2nd part. This is brief reporting so I plan to complete a book on the subject with a lot more expanded information in the near future. In a large country with industry spread over such a vast area and a huge population, it is difficult to chronicle all in few words. Being a long article, the part 2 of History of the Indian Label Industry will be posted on my blog in a series of four articles. The first part of series numbered  2A is as below;

The first decade of new millennium was very eventful for the Indian label industry. After 2006 a global economic recession surfaced and kept growing, affecting businesses across the world.

It even impacted many industries in India where we saw companies reducing manpower, which in turn affected spending in all segments of retail. Surprisingly while printers in India as well, were complaining of recessionary trends and difficulty in operations, yet the Indian label industry overall, continued to grow steadily. Capacity enhancement kept on being made, though it was a little reduced. The Indians became indulgent not only as label printers but also as diverse product and equipment suppliers to label printing companies. For the first time an Indian company Precise Graphics, later renamed PGI Technologies in 2005 produced a magnetic cylinder that worked on a label press. Dhiresh Ghosalia led Jesons, manufacturers of emulsion pressure sensitive adhesives for the label industry at their large factory in Daman, expanded and moved northwards in India and setup an additional manufacturing capacity at a 100,000 square feet facility in Roorkee. Kaygee Papers was promoted by Pranay Godha in 1997 to produce silicone coated release papers. In 2001 they made a Joint Venture, Kaygee Loparex Pvt. Ltd. with Loparex, a member of UPM group and world’s largest commercial Siliconiser. They continued to grow and became an important part of the Indian label industry in the first decade. In 2015 Loparex assumed 100% of the company and rechristened it as Loparex India Pvt. Ltd. In August 2007 Diehard Dies, based in Guntur Andhra Pradesh, started operations to become an indigenous manufacturer of flexible dies for the printing, packaging and label industry. By middle of 2019 Acme Rolltech a company led by 3 young entrepreneurs Parag Patel, Sandeep Sharma and Parag Koradiya started the first Indian facility manufacturing Ceramic Anilox Rolls. Sandeep, came to the partnership with 15 years of experience having worked with Avery Dennison, Kurz India and Domino Printech, Parag Patel and Parag Koradiya came from entrepreneurial background of manufacturing Gravure Cylinders. 

In 2007 the largest indigenous labelstock producer Ajay Mehta’s SMI Coated Products initiated an expansion program that would eventually place SMI as an undisputed leader in labelstock production by a wholly Indian owned company, not only in India but also in many international markets.

They procured a 6540 square meter plot in MIDC, Ambernath near Mumbai, constructed 2200 square meter shed, shifted all plant and machinery from Daman to Ambernath, added two silicon coating machines and one Acrylic Coating machine. In 2014 they increased the production area by another 3000 square meters and installed a Hot Melt coating line, following it up by installing yet another hotmelt adhesive coater later.  

In 2017 they purchased the adjoining plot admeasuring 9820 Square meters, constructed 1000 square meters to install Schaeffer moving racks for better handling of an increasing volume of goods in their expanding stores.

In 2019 they completed construction of another 3000 square meters shed and moved all coating machines to new premises along with a new emulsion adhesive coating tandem machine to do inline siliconizing and adhesive coating in a single pass, 1350 mm wide to run at a speed of 150 meters per minute, reaching an installed capacity of 19 million square meters per month. They celebrated their 25 years in grand style by hosting over 200 guests to visit their works besides take part in the celebrations. Other indigenous labelstock manufacturers also grew in their own respective regions. Stayon Papers and Sticon in Hyderabad, Million papers and NG papers in Chennai, Capri Coating Solutions in Mumbai, Shree Arihant, STP Paper, Gj Industries and many more in Delhi were some of the active and visible manufacturers. Some of the earlier leaders in the Labelstock manufacturing segment pulled back or shifted focus in view of depleting margins, intense competition and unviable credit terms.

Indian label press manufacturers transformed in this period to produce label presses that were comparable to international products and made their mark not only in India but internationally as well.

Amit Ahuja led Multitec is the front runner who had exhibited their first modular rotary flexo label press in partnership with Abhay Datta of Datta Press Delhi at the first India Label show in 2002 at Nehru Centre Mumbai. The association of Multitec with Datta came to an end around 2008. Multitec redesigned their label press as a competitive product with all basic features. After renaming the press, “Ecoflex” they relaunched it. Two year hence they launched yet another version of their label press and continued to upgrade their offerings and grow phenomenally. By the end of 2018 they had achieved outstanding success producing label presses from a quality accredited design and a fully integrated manufacturing facility spread over 26,000 square meters. At the time of writing this article their website reports having sold over 300 Label presses to over 25 countries through a team of agents spread across the world. Other Indian press manufacturers who also made their mark are mostly from Faridabad, south of Delhi, the same city as Multitec. They are Alliance Printech, Webtech Engineering, NBG Printographic Machinery Co. Pvt. Ltd., M Tech Industries, etc. Other than these, Ahmedabad based RK label machines claimed to have sold 150 rotary plus 600 flatbed label presses and Noida based Jandu Engineers had sold about 135 rotary flexo presses. Jandu is also a leading manufacturer of coating and laminating machines and has a large presence amongst local labelstock manufacturers and according to Baldev Singh Jandu, they have till date sold over 150 coaters.

The Indian label market was growing at a steady double-digit growth rate and interest of international label fraternity in India also kept on growing with it. Avery Dennison who had found success in the country had in 2007 invested in land admeasuring 22 acres at Ranjangaon near Pune for expansion.

In 2008 the facility was with a one-meter wide hotmelt coater having capability to run at 500 meters per minute with inline silicon coating, this compared to the first one-meter coater at Gurgaon that could run at 250 meters per minute. The then global CEO and President of Avery Dennison Corporation Dean Scarborough specially flew in to inaugurate the facility. In 2010 Raj Srinivasan who had established Avery’s foothold in India returned to USA handing over reigns of the Indian operations to Anil Sharma. New wave of professionalism descended in the working of Avery; more expansion followed with installation of a 1.5 meters hot melt coater in 2011 at Pune. In the same year a slitting facility was commissioned in Bangalore in 2011 to serve the southern customers effectively. To help the cause of a limited number of trained press operators in India in face of a growing label press population,  Avery Dennison Knowledge Centre was also set up in Bangalore to train people for becoming press operators, but later in 2018 the centre was moved to Pune, next to their research and development centre. In 2014 an emulsion coater of 1.5meter width was added at the Pune facility. In 2015 Anil Sharma was elevated for bigger responsibilities and handed over charge to his teammate Pankaj Bhardwaj. Amongst international Labelstocks companies UPM Raflatac had established a substantial foothold with their slitting facilities in India while Lintec, Ritrama, flexcon and a few others sold through agents or directly.

Increase in number of visitors to labelexpo Europe in Brussels was a positive indicator of a growing label market in India and the interests of printers to invest in globally acknowledged label presses. In 2005 Weldon Celloplast Ltd. was the lone Indian exhibitor and by 2011 edition of the show, the number of Indian exhibitors had swelled to fourteen, up from four in the previous show in 2009.

At Labelexpo Europe 2009 there were 338 Indian visitors and this figure had swelled to 429 in 2011. The number just went on increasing, there were more Indians then before at successive labelexpos.

In 2007 at Labelexpo Europe in Brussels Tarsus announced their acquisition of India Label show, a show that was set up by Anil Arora and his wife Neetu Arora.

The next edition of India Label show 2008 in New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan was held in the aftermath of terrorist attack in Mumbai and in the middle of a huge recession, yet the show stood its ground proving the strength of growing Indian label market. In 2010 the show was rechristened as Labelexpo India. The show owners Tarsus UK made a strategic alliance with Indian Label association LMAI for the event and to have an awards night and a gala dinner organised by Tarsus at every Labelexpo India. LMAI was to conduct the LMAI label awards which became a regular feature thereafter. In 2009 under the leadership of Vivek Kapoor, the longest serving president of LMAI who completed 3 terms of 2 years each, it was also planned to hold biennial LMAI conference in alternate years, the trend has carried on till date. The first LMAI conference was held in Hotel park Hyatt Goa in 2011 and the event grew to be held again in 2013 at Grand Hyatt Goa and at Hotel Jaypee Palace in Agra in 2017. 

In 2010 leading global associations came together under the aegis of FINAT and formed the federation of global associations called L8. Later with one more association joining it was renamed L9, the confederation of nine leading international label associations.

The alliance consisted of LMAI (India), JFLP (Japan), FINAT (Europe), TLMI (North America, LATMA (Australia), PEIAC (China), AMETIQ (Mexico), ABIEA (Brazil) and SALMA (New Zealand). Sandeep Zaveri of Total Prints took over the presidentship of LMAI in 2015 and handed over the charge to Kuldip Goel of Any Graphics in 2017.  At the 2017 conference in Agra 550 delegates attended making it the largest gathering of label printers at a single conference. A proud moment for me at the Agra conference in 2017 came when I was announced as the first and only recipient till then of a lifetime award for support to the Indian Label industry.  

In 2016 Labelexpo was moved to the Expo Mart in Greater Noida outside Delhi, a part of Delhi NCR (National Capital Region) due to non-availability of dates at New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan.

In 2018 also it was held at the Expo Mart as the venue, Pragati Maidan in Delhi, was under redevelopment. In 2018 for the first time LMAI hosted a very successful L9 meet in India on the sidelines of Labelexpo India.

The evolution of label industry in India has been a continuous process, from the earliest days of screen-printed labels in sheeted format in the 1970s to roll form labels to be converted on very narrow width flatbed Japanese presses and then over to rotary flexographic printing label presses in the early 1990s.

Until the end of 1990s the flexo printing process used water-based inks with hot air drying.

The polymer plate making technology was also evolving. The process was evolving but it had shortcomings. It was faster than the flat bed machines but lacked consistency due to drying and viscosity changing issues. Better prepress and improvements in platemaking technologies brought flexo printing to almost at par in quality to offset printing. This led the rapid growth in flexographic label printing. As demand escalated, investments in equipment also witnessed increase with printers demanding wider presses for increased productivity and reduced wastages. By end of the last century UV curable inks became available and changed the way flexo printing grew. Originally, UV technology was introduced to the world in the 1960s. The drying effect for water-based inks is brought about by evaporation of volatile components. The required energy is supplied via IR-radiation and/or hot air. A loss in the dried coating thickness will appear depending on the amount of the evaporated components. The volatile components must be removed by an extraction. However, in case of the UV inks, the drying effect is due to polymerization, i.e. on cross-linking of long molecular chains. The energy required for cross-linking is supplied via UV radiation. For 100 % solid body systems the thickness of the dry coating corresponds to the thickness of the wet coating. There are no losses due to evaporation. By 2010 new UV inks came with enhanced ink transfer properties as well as faster reactivity to UV curing, meaning speeds over 200 meters/min. were achievable. Towards end of 2009 the conventional UV started to evolve to low power consuming LED UV with longer life lamps that had surfaced internationally, though the system had yet to be widely accepted in India due to non-availability of parts and inks, but it was being investigated and expected to grow substantially in demand or replaced on existing presses.  Some of the international equipment manufacturers had already introduced alternatives such as LED UV and even Electron Beam curing technology as an alternative. From the middle of first decade of 21st century onwards there grew a demand for high end hybrid presses with increased features like automatic registration, multiple printing processes for combination printing and decoration capabilities. As sustainability and environmental concerns became an imperative; waste reduction, and waste management became a necessity when an investment in equipment was being made.End of Part 2A, To be continued…
The remaining parts will be posted in gaps of 7-10 days 
Note: No one is authorised to reproduce, copy or reprint this article until permitted by the author in writing. 
Written by Harveer Sahni Managing Director Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi July 2019

Almost forty years ago, when Iwas just a commercial siliconiser, people at large did not understand what release paper or silicon paper was. I would jokingly explain it was a product, a protective paper behind a sticker, that would eventually go into wastepaper basket. In real terms the release liner, would be disposed-off in landfills or burnt adding smoke and gasses to the environment impacting it adversely.

Time has changed, concern for environment is a necessity and cannot be taken lightly as a joke. We are responsible for leaving behind a legacy of a cleaner and liveable environment for generations that follow us.
We need to make our manufacturing programs, sustainable. Sustainability means giving back to mother earth what we take from it or reduce drawing the resources that we cannot replenish forthwith cut down generation of industrial waste. Unfortunately, 50% of all that self-adhesive label industry produces goes as waste in terms of waste matrix and release liners. While globally many endeavours are being adopted to reduce liner waste yet in India a lot needs to be done. Switching over to liner less labels where-ever possible, helps but not much work is done in this direction. Using thinner filmic liners does result in reduced tonnage of liners and their recyclability. During this period many a top-end printer has started using clear on clear filmic label materials aiding sustainability to some extent. Global leaders in Labelstocks Avery Dennison has initiated a program to collect and recycle silicone release liners in India, it is a step in the right direction. But given the size of the country and geographical spread of label units, it is a gigantic task. Other than this some printers have adopted waste management by shredding waste and compacting it for use as fuel in boilers and other applications, this is only a miniscule portion of the Industry. Largely, the waste is still sent to landfills or is incinerated. In times to come legislation will come to make sustainability and environment safety an imperative. It is time that the label and print fraternity at large must understand that not only the need but also the larger implications terms sustainability, recyclability, circular economy, environmental protection, etc.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership.

They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go together with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. The Sustainable Development Goal number 12 states; worldwide material consumption has expanded rapidly, as has material footprint per capita, seriously jeopardizing the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. Urgent action is needed to ensure that current material needs do not lead to the over extraction of resources or to the degradation of environmental resources, and should include policies that improve resource efficiency, reduce waste and mainstream sustainability practices across all sectors of the economy. In our labels and packaging industry this is an imperative that needs to be attended to because the percentage of waste generated is high, going to landfills. Some companies do incinerate or send the waste generated as matrix or side trim to kilns for use as fuel. This may look good management but in the longer run we are putting gasses into the air from the different materials going into the manufacture of labelstocks viz.; paper, film, primer coats, silicone, adhesive etc. Each component will produce different type of emissions that have in unison no single solution to treat them. Thus, there is a need for reducing the waste generated, use recyclable materials, reduce the energy consumption etc. to become more sustainable.

The label industry globally has been looking at the possibility of recyclability and reusability of the waste matrix or that of the different components of labelstocks. Since release paper is one item that has its usability only until the label is dispensed to be applied on to the product, after that it ends up as waste. Over the years there have been many solutions tried to reduce the impact of this liner waste on the environment. The used liner would either go to landfills or incinerated and in both cases it its impact was adverse. Due to the silicone coating on the paper biodegradability in landfills was an issue as silicone after crosslinking becomes inert.

For the same reason paper mills would not buy this waste for re-pulping and making fresh paper. Initial steps taken in reducing the liner waste were replacing the paper liners with thinner filmic liners thereby reducing the tonnage of paper and moreover the waste liner can be remoulded. This was a positive sign, but large-scale shift has not happened in a long time because of additional increased investment in equipment and tooling. There have been efforts to go linerless in producing labels but the inability to do custom shapes die-cutting and high-speed label dispensing on automatic packaging lines have not produced a lasting solution. Efforts and development in this direction are going on and we hope one day the industry can shift to self-adhesive labels without having release liners to dispose off, becomes a reality. At Labelexpo Europe 2019, four companies Ritrama, Omet, Spilker and ILTI came together to offer their “Core Linerless Solutions”, other companies like Catchpoint are also making strong efforts in this direction, only time will tell how many brand owners move in this direction and prompt their label vendors to offer the linerless label solutions. Some paper mills in Europe have now devised process of de-siliconising release paper and then re-pulping it to make fresh paper but the collection and delivery to the mills from the printing companies widely spread over large geographical locations is a logistic challenge. However still substantial volumes have started to be reprocessed. In India in recent times as mentioned above Avery Dennison has initiated support to a program in which collection of release liners is outsourced to a vendor and then sent to a mill who have devised a process to re-pulp and convert to paperboard. These are positive steps.

The menace of waste is gigantic and it has become an absolute emergency to counter it. Governments have woken up to act against generation of materials going to landfills. It is preferred that whatever waste is generated in industrial process should be gainfully recycled for usability to achieve the benefits as described in circular economy.

As per a report published in thehindubusinessline.com of 19th September 2019, leading consumer products companies such as Coca-Cola India, PepsiCo India and Bisleri among others have decided to come together to launch a first-of-its-kind packaging waste management venture in the country. The venture, which is called Karo Sambhav, will focus on creating a formal eco-system for collection of post-consumer packaging and optimising material recycling processes. Commenting on the endeavour, T Krishnakumar, President, Coca-Cola India and South-West Asia added, “Through our vision, World Without Waste, we want to ensure that all our packaging material goes for recycling and not to landfills.” Another report appearing in Live Mint 2nd October 2019 states; The government may soon roll out stringent norms and impose heavy fines on corporates, including hospitality industry, mobile manufacturers and packaging industry, for failing to stop use of plastic. Under the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme, which the government plans to implement effectively, manufacturers, brand owners, and importers of products should realise and bear responsibility for environmental impact of their products through the product life-cycle. Many of the large FMCG companies have started adopting the requirements of EPR. These are other positive steps taken to eradicate waste to landfills to a great extent.

Besides the liner there is the waste matrix which has the adhesive and various kinds of face materials that include uncoated, coated, metallised, coloured, metallised papers, laminates or films with metallisation or topcoats. Side trims are also generated at some label converting units and most labelstock manufacturing units. With increasing prices of real estate besides an environmental issue, the side trims and matrix call for large amount of space to store until disposed off, putting additional pressure on resources. For this reason, larger label companies are shredding and compacting the waste to sell as fuel for boilers, furnaces and cement kilns.

There are some innovative entrepreneurs who convert this waste into pallets, floor tiles, wall panelling and some small furniture items. It is interesting to see such endeavours.

Circular economy packaging is another buzzword when we talk of sustainability and environmental protection. A circular economy is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste, continual use and recycling of resources to re-engineer products that are preferably not downgraded. It is contrary to the earlier system “traditional linear economy” according to which the aim was ‘take, make, dispose’ model of production to achieve increased usage of all inputs.

Labels are the face of any product and in time of growing organised retail and in view of stringent consumer protection laws labels provide the much-needed statutory information, besides becoming the marketing tool for any product. In such a scenario we need to design labels in manner that they are able, to be a part of recycling process of the package. For instance, on a PE (polyethylene) container we should have a PE label only so that the whole package is mono-polymer and can be effectively reprocessed and recycled. Multi-polymer plastics are neither recyclable nor biodegradable. It is normal in India that we see ragpickers collect the mono polymer milk pouches but leave behind the fancy multi-layered pouches of instant foods and snacks littered around. This is because the monolayer plastics are resaleable for convenient recycling. Similarly, a paperboard carton should have a paper label.

Sustainability or circular economy must be in the conscience of all manufacturers, it does not advocate compromising safety or user experience of any product. It also does not mean increased cost of inputs. It is a mindset to create products that make life sustainable and do not deplete resources available to humans. There is need to replenish what we extract from our environment and establish a legacy for generations that follow for staying committed to the cause. It is a cause that is impacting humanity across the globe and all efforts to make public of all races and countries aware of the situation and need to contribute towards this issue in unison are necessary.
Written By Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi India February 2020