WACKER Joins Recycling Initiative for Release Paper
Munich, Mar 18, 2021
Leading label manufacturers are cooperating in a recycling initiative for release paper. Future recycling of coated wastepaper is to be achieved by creating a collection system and a sustainable circular economy. Some 30 companies are now members of the consortium, including global label manufacturers such as UPM Raflatac, Avery Dennison or Herma, and European subcontractors like WACKER. WACKER manufactures silicone release agents that are used to coat release paper under the brand name DEHESIVE®.
Self-adhesive labels are supplied with a protective film or release paper, from which the label is peeled off. “Silicone release agents play an important role here,” says Dr. Hans Lautenschlager, head of the Release Coatings team at WACKER SILICONES. “Their job is to make sure that the label is not damaged when peeled off. Without the release agent, the label would adhere to the backing paper, rendering it useless.”
Until recently, there's been no suitable recycling program in Europe for release paper made of high-quality cellulose fiber. The industry initiative, Circular Economy for Self-Adhesive Labels or CELAB, aims to recycle up to 75% of the release coatings and paper that remain once a label has been removed in the next five years.
“For years, sustainable business models and closed product loops have been an integral part of our strategic goals,” says Dr. Lautenschlager. “So it was obvious that we would support a recycling campaign like this.”
Seven Wacker Chemie AG units and partner companies tested recycling processes at the Burghausen site in a pilot project organized by Corporate Sustainability team members Nina Straubhaar, Dr. Dominik Auer and Dr. Markus Haider.
Since the participants use relatively large quantities of labels, they produce significant amounts of release paper waste, which is collected, and then transported by paper manufacturer UPM to their premises where the release papers are soaked in an alkaline tub, which removes the silicone coating, leaving behind high-quality reusable cellulose fiber. Tests are currently underway to see whether the removed silicone coating can be reused economically.
The process works so well that a team from DRAWIN Vertriebs-GmbH also looked into options for the Riemering site near Munich. DRAWIN, which belongs to the WACKER Group, ships high-quality specialty silicones worldwide, and uses large quantities of labels. After sharing experiences with colleagues in Burghausen, release-paper recycling has also been started at DRAWIN.