FINAT Technical Seminar Actively Addresses the Sustainability Agenda
Taking as its central theme ‘Self-adhesive labels adding value', the biennial FINAT technical seminar drew nearly 200 participants to Barcelona, 11-12 March, to debate current technology-based opportunities and issues in the industry, around the globe. FINAT, the international association for the self-adhesive label industry, created a full and broad-ranging programme that embraced the entire value chain, focused on raw materials, new processes, and - perhaps most importantly today -- the way in which industry participants can bring together added value and sustainability for their end-user customers.
Self-adhesive labels: packaging innovation
Guest speaker, label industry guru Mike Fairley - founder editor of ‘Labels and Labeling' magazine and co-founder of the Labelexpo shows - delivered the call to action that was the central thread of the seminar. He identified the need for the self-adhesive label industry to actively position itself as a core part of the broader packaging industry, and become, as it deserves to be, an influencer in packaging industry sustainability, environmental management, and best practice initiatives.
There is indeed much ongoing legislative activity in this area, and delegates benefited from an in-depth update of EU environmental directives, including REACH, the chemical legislation in Europe.
In his opening address, FINAT President Andrea Vimercati highlighted the parallel driver for future success for self-adhesive labelling: to support customers with a continuing stream of innovative solutions that draw on the many technical capabilities of the self-adhesive label industry supply chain.
Barcelona-based label converters Germark, Spain, presented some examples of real creativity and innovation in label specialties to inspire delegates' out-of-the-box thinking.
Advances in raw materials and technology
The seminar went on to examine real advances in adhesives and inks, with papers presented on recycling-friendly, dispersion-based, and UV hot melt adhesive developments and on solutions to current product food contamination concerns surrounding the migration of printing inks through packaging, set-off, etc.
Today's self-adhesive labels involve a raft of leading-edge technologies - including digital label print, and delegates benefited from an in-depth overview of the available digital print processes today, an overview of how prepress software is enabling label printers and their customers today to manage locally, but produce globally. Die cutting - a critical factor in label excellence - and tension control on reel-fed presses were the topics of other insightful papers. Specialist topics such as RFID and the use of holography as an ‘added value' design feature for labels were also addressed.
The sustainability imperative
Sustainability is at the centre of label buyers' agendas today; and the label industry is equally keen to streamline its business and manufacturing processes to deliver sustainable solutions to its customers that can at the same time contribute to cost reductions and improved profitability. The development of guidelines for good environmental health and safety practices -- the essential context for label printing -- are the focus of a trailblazing project currently underway in the German labelling association, VskE, which, as delegates learned, is moving forward quickly.
Delegates also learned how new-generation reel-to-reel presses can help to meet end user needs; and how developing an understanding of the specialist requirements of specific end-use markets can encourage a switch to self-adhesive labels from alternative decoration formats, delivering overall market growth. Linerless labels - eliminating one of the key waste issues in the self-adhesive label laminate, the release liner - were also highlighted as a success story in the sustainability agenda.
Closing the event, FINAT Technical Committee Chairman Håkan Saxén remarked that the seminar had highlighted some real industry advances, and that it had also provided a valuable networking opportunity, both in the social programme and in the complementary tabletop exhibition. He invited seminar participants to FINAT's 2010 Congress in Valencia in June, and to the next Technical Seminar, to be held in March 2012. www.finat.com.
FINAT, founded in Paris in 1958 and headquartered in The Hague (The Netherlands), is the world-wide association for manufacturers of self-adhesive labels and related products and services. With 600 members in over 50 countries around the world, FINAT has much to offer to label converters and all suppliers to the labeling industry in terms of information exchange and the opportunity to network internationally. www.finat.com
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