The Positive Impact of Responsibly Sourcing

By: Roland Simon, Vice President of Procurement, Materials Group, Avery Dennison

Responsible sourcing ensures the long-term availability of raw materials to manufacture the products that label companies provide their customers. Our annual spend on materials represents a significant investment in the pressure sensitive supply chain. It is important that this investment supports and encourages responsible behavior to eliminate negative environmental impacts and secure availability of materials continually in the future. Sustainable sourcing applies to nearly any product the label industry uses – from paper products and plastics to adhesives and films.

At Avery Dennison, we have begun the process to monitor supplier sustainability performance. As we proceed down this path, we will expect that our supply base establishes and maintains continuous improvement processes that will increasingly improve sustainability performance up and down the supply chain. Label manufacturers, for example, are large users of plastic films and adhesives. For the most part, these materials stem from the crude oil stream, a finite resource on the planet. In addition, these materials are mostly non-degradable and are a significant source of environmental pollution when not recycled. We will be leading an industry collaboration involving suppliers, customers and in some cases even competitors to create industry standards for segregation, collection, distribution and processing of recycled pressure sensitive materials.

By engaging with groups such as TLMI, FINAT, and AWA we can facilitate collaborative practices that can establish strategies to position against competing labelling technologies. Partnering in this way provides the opportunity to create standards for the entire industry.

In conjunction with our recycling and reduction initiatives, we will lead our industry in the introduction of renewable resin sources. Products manufactured from plant-based sources eliminate the need for petroleum resources and prevent pollution from the extraction of fossil fuels. Bio-based polyethylene label films are available from Avery Dennison, for example, and represent the first pressure-sensitive PE filmic labels with a facestock made from more than 80 percent renewable content. We launched Bio-based PE as the first product in this line. While currently available in Europe, we have the ability to source it to any region in the world.  

The facestock is manufactured from sugarcane ethanol and certified under the Bonsucro® scheme. The plant-based PE film may be recycled in the standard polyolefin recycling stream, which offers an advantage over bio-based PLA films that presently do not have a recycling stream. 

Label manufacturers are also exploring opportunities to purchase renewable energy as a strategy to reduce GHG emissions and each company’s carbon footprint. Some are implementing tactics such as fuel switching (replacing coal with natural gas) and exploring renewable energy sources including wind or solar power. 

Reducing energy consumption during product distribution continues as a priority for many companies that have adopted strategies such as designing lighter packaging, maximizing the use of space and working with customers to examine opportunities for bulk packaging.