By Georg Mueller-Hof
Vice President Marketing at Avery Dennison Label and Packaging Materials
There’s been a lot of talk over the years about sustainability in the business world, and especially in our business, the pressure-sensitive label industry.
It’s one thing to talk about sustainability, to want sustainability, and to encourage it. It’s another to make the tough choices about using fewer resources, or to develop the breakthroughs that will allow us to do things in a way we use resources better.
Since announcing our 2025 Sustainability Goals, there has been added urgency at Avery Dennison about making sustainable solutions happen. Some solutions, like our 100% recycled label facestock, have been commercial, delivering high-quality products with positive environmental impact. Others have focused more on minimizing waste.
But for this year’s four-day Labelexpo in Europe, we wanted to do something that had never been done, and that for a longer time was considered a mission impossible: to make our exhibit booth substantially out of our own label waste.
Our main drive is to to “show” rather than “tell.” Labelexpo is the main gathering opportunity outside the United States for our industry, and we wanted to have an element of our Labelexpo presence be something that demonstrates our position as sustainability leaders in our industry – and a first-ever ‘recycled’ booth hit that spot nicely.
But as knowledge equals power, we were also eager to learn more about the process and specific challenges related to creating a booth from our liner waste ,
And finally to put into practice our strong belief that partnerships with customers and vendors for collecting and using waste from our own products is something essential, if we are to deliver our 2025 goal of helping customers reduce the waste from our products.
Approximately 60% of the materials in the booth were made using label liner waste collected from Avery Dennison customers. The waste material was recycled, reprocessed and combined with other recycled cellulosic materials into a product called ECOR® by Noble Environmental Technologies, a global company, providing circular economic solutions to corporations in Europe and North America.
Noble converted the collected waste into panels, which were then used in a number of elements of the booth, including meeting rooms, storage areas, technical areas, floors, walls and an exhibit zone dedicated to sustainability-themed innovations called “Change The Future.”
The ECOR material used in the booth is, of course, itself fully recyclable into new products after serving its useful life as a tradeshow exhibition booth.
Liner waste, the waste produced when the backing is removed from the commercially useful label, is an industry issue. Using it to build our Labelexpo booth is that act of a true pioneer and illustrates our commitment to exploring the best ways to drive its re-use. We will not give in and continue to strive for solutions that work and change the future.
Concurrently, we pursue solutions which reduce waste and which reuse waste for commercial purposes. But playing a role in recycling and reusing our own waste as part of the way we do business, in the form of our busy Labelexpo booth, is something that goes beyond the norm. Aside from illustrating our sustainability commitment to the marketplace, it also involves our own people in the process.
I am fortunate to work with customers and colleagues who see innovation in the world of sustainability is something that sparks inspiration and innovation. This is an ongoing process, and we aren’t afraid to make bold, even unusual choices to get people thinking. When the odds are against, this triggers us “to go the extra mile”