Linerless technology: packaging sustainability for fresh food
Among the various functions performed, labels serve as the identity of a brand’s product. A standard pressure-sensitive label often features a facestock, adhesive and a release liner. Given the silicon layer, label liners cannot be recycled and are not biodegradable, which means all of that waste enters landfill. With pressure mounting to reduce waste across all industries and sectors, linerless technology offers an eco-friendly, efficient replacement for traditional self-adhesive labels.
We are also seeing more brand owners evaluate their packaging and labels, particularly in terms of eco-friendliness and cost reduction, as a reaction to growing interest from consumers concerned about environmental issues such as plastic pollution.
With five years on the clock to achieve the 2025 APCO sustainability targets, working together with an industry-wide goal has never been more important. Against this backdrop, Result Group has partnered with Ravenwood Packaging, innovators in the field of linerless technology, to assist brand owners meet their sustainability goals and deliver the type of eco-friendly packaging that consumers demand. Result Group supplies Ravenwood’s linerless technology via its Nobac 5000 applicators range, designed to provide ultimate convenience through operational ease and efficiency and enhanced product labelling aesthetics.
As consumers become more environmentally conscious and hold brands and their packaging standards to account, Iceland, a leading UK frozen food retailer, has been incentivised to develop and package more responsibly. The retailer has committed to eliminate plastics from its brand foods by 2023 and become carbon neutral by 2042.
Challenges such as meeting customer expectations, automation complexities and, of course, the high cost of doing business abroad meant optimising processes was also a priority for Iceland. Its fresh conference pears were hand filled into plastic poly bags and plastic punnets. One simple way to improve the packing process of its conference pears and cut costs was by adopting Ravenwood’s linerless ‘Fruit Lid’ label concept.
For its conference pears packaging, Iceland opted to adopt Ravenwood’s linerless technology with a ‘Fruit Lid’ linerless label applied to a cardboard tray. Both the label and the tray are fully recyclable. The label application was deployed via Ravenwood’s Nobac 5000L Linerless Applicator, fitted with an extended outfeed. A Thermal printer was also integrated into the applicator to print date and traceability information.
Until now, using carton-board during the packing process for fruit and vegetables has been quite inconvenient. The process was far less automated than film, resulting in slower production and added labour costs. Ravenwood’s linerless technology was a key driver in developing a ‘market-leading packaging solution’ that is a like-for-like alternative for flow wrap, yet unlike flow wrap, it yields considerable benefits.
Sustainable benefits of linerless labelling
With Ravenwood’s linerless technology, Iceland has achieved an innovative new pack format that delivers a 100% reduction in plastic and is entirely recyclable. As a result, the retailer has estimated it will save 15 tonnes of plastic per year, a massive reduction in plastic/film going to landfill. The minimised waste disposal has resulted in reduced carbon emissions.
The pack retains ample surface area for product information and branding while offering a die-cut solution to view fruit within the pack. Allowing product inspection at all times ensures consumption within the use-by date and prevents food waste.
Fresh produce can be packed using a highly automated packaging process that can run at equivalent speeds to flow wrap, ensuring efficiencies for growers. It is also less wasteful than other carton-board packing processes.
Operational benefits of linerless labelling
Reduced costs: Linerless labels are a more cost-efficient alternative to traditional labels.
With no liner, a roll has the ability to carry nearly double the number of labels, meaning roll changes are reduced and efficiency is boosted, which is a big plus in terms of turnaround time and cost. Similarly, the freight costs of linerless label rolls can be reduced by up to 50% because the weight of the liners is removed. With no liners to discard or collect from a production area, waste disposal costs drop as well.
Greater productivity: Because linerless rolls have twice as many labels per roll, production employees who are packing and labelling fresh produce packs do not need to change out an empty roll for a new one as frequently, allowing them to be more productive.
Considering the number of packages a large fresh produce packer or grower would handle in a single day, having to reload rolls constantly because printers run out of labels takes multiple minutes per employee per day, adding up to a lot of downtime.
Ravenwood and Result are also committed to addressing the sustainability challenges facing the packaging industry, particularly within Fresh Produce. There is ample scope to use this type of linerless solution to replace plastic across various fresh produce types. Fresh Produce growers, owners and packers can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability if their pack formats have a smaller environmental footprint. Ravenwood’s linerless technology can deliver and help meet this objective.
Ravenwood’s Linerless solutions are designed to provide ultimate convenience through operational ease and efficiency and consumer-loved usability without sacrificing product freshness and protection. The Nobac 5000 range of linerless applicators apply cardboard, film or paper labels in various formats, including top labelling, die-cut and shaped to stretch wrap trays, top seal trays, and vacuum skin and thermoformed packs with various protrusion levels.
Fresh produce businesses that require customised packaging and labelling solutions should look to a trusted labelling partner to get a linerless label that meets their company’s specific needs. While introducing linerless labels to a workflow means investing in new machinery, the long-term benefits more than outweigh the initial investment — making linerless labels a smart, modern way to upgrade distribution, improve product aesthetics and tick the sustainability box.
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