Already in 2019 the European Commission announced the European Green Course, which sets an ambitious goal of making Europe the first climate-neutral part of the world by 2050. Commission action plan also includes promotion of circular economy, which directly impacts the packaging sector, including label production. Therefore, JSC “Liepājas Papīrs” is encouraging its customers and partners to start considering the use of environmentally friendly materials for their product packaging in advance.

A.Gabaliņš, JSC “Liepājas Papīrs” Sales Director, emphasizes that “we are happy with the projects already implemented using environmentally friendly solutions, however, at the same time, we have to admit that, unfortunately, currently very few customers have chosen to go down this road”. Mr. Gabaliņš points out that the main reasons why customers choose to order labels on standard materials are cost difference in favour of conventional solutions and the lack of time for testing and implementing new solutions. However, company representative encourages Latvian manufacturing companies to test various environmentally friendly materials at least for some specific product lines, so as to understand what is more appropriate for each certain product, and so that there is no confusion and unwanted stress, when the circular economy “will have to run at full capacity”. Laima Kubliņa, a representative of the waste management company SIA “Zaļā josta” (Ltd), also emphasizes that moving towards environmentally friendly packaging is important not only for businesses, since by choosing environmentally friendly packaging they can reduce their packaging management costs and gain other benefits as well, but also for consumers, because “consumers increasingly opt for sustainable, healthy and environmentally safe products. In Latvia more than 400 kg of waste per inhabitant is generated on average every year. One third of that amount is used packaging. In order to reduce the impact on the environment and the costs of waste removal, it is important to stop using unnecessary packaging, opting for minimal packaging of goods, choosing materials that are collected for recycling in Latvia or that quickly degrade in the environment leaving no trace.”

For the purpose of gradually switching from your regular packaging to more environmentally friendly solutions, you can start with very simple steps and choose materials that are thinner and lighter and production of which requires fewer resources, thus reducing the ecological footprint left by production. This is the so-called think thin method. You may also want to consider using materials that are made from 100% renewable resources, e.g. wood, for your product packaging. Labels can also be made from raw materials that contain already recycled raw materials, such as PET flakes from recycled PET waste or agricultural by-products such as grape pomace, sugar cane fibres, etc. It is important to keep in mind that a sustainable solution also involves further recycling of packaging and it is important to consider the life cycle of the packaging after the product has been used, therefore, labels that can be washed off and removed from the packaging are one way to promote circular economy. And, of course, the ideal case would be when the company is able to choose packaging materials that are industrial compostable. Another benefit of working with environmentally friendly materials is that material manufacturers are willing to cooperate on collecting and recycling residual materials, such as label liner material. These are just some of the aspects to take into account when considering introduction of more environmentally friendly packaging.

Currently, export customers are the ones showing greater interest in environmentally friendly solutions. JSC “Liepājas Papīrs” has implemented several projects for the introduction of environmentally friendly solutions. However, it is considered that the greatest and most significant product, which has passed the test phase and full-scale production of which was launched, is the project by a German industrial goods manufacturer, which was engaged in a year-long testing of the material properties, printing and colour details for CleanFlake White material, the environmentally friendly properties of which are revealed through two aspects – first of all, the liner of this specific material is made from 30% recycled PET waste and is still 100% recyclable, secondly, the material has a specifically developed adhesive chemical formula that allows the adhesive and the surface material to separate from the flakes and float to the water surface during processing of the packaging into PET flakes and washing at 70oC. This material can also be used for glass packaging and labels can be removed by proper washing.

This is just one specific solution out of a wide range of options. JSC “Liepājas Papīrs” will be happy for any Latvian or foreign company that will be ready to become a part of the green deal today, so that both Latvia and the EU can transform into a prosperous society with sustainable thinking and a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy.

For more information please contact the project managers of Liepajas Papirs.

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