Process and Systems Thinking | Avery Dennison | Sustainability

Process and Systems Thinking

Besides making our own products and operations sustainable, advancing sustainability at the necessary scale also demands that we take a holistic view and consider how we can help improve the industries and supply chains we’re part of. We’re innovating and collaborating to reduce resource consumption, eliminate waste, and create circular processes that allow existing raw materials to be continuously reused.

Label and Packaging Materials
The Advantages of Thinking Thin
Our Label and Packaging Materials team’s expertise in process engineering led them to create our ThinkThin™ portfolio, a complete selection of thinner filmic labeling materials. ThinkThin products are made with less oil, water, and energy, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint compared to conventional label materials. ThinkThin label constructions are also up to 50% thinner than conventional label constructions. This allows for operational efficiencies and reduced storage and transportation.

What began as a product innovation has become a broader movement in the label industry. Our ThinkThin materials have led the trend toward thinner materials, helping label manufacturers respond to the U.S. government’s call for less waste in labels, and helping converters and brands move closer to their sustainability and efficiency targets.

Label and Packaging Materials
Building a Worldwide Network to Recycle Label Waste
Label waste—mainly used liners and matrix—is a longstanding challenge for our industry. As an industry pioneer, we’re in a unique position to do something about it.

Through our Avery Dennison Liner Recycling Program, we’re working with companies around the globe to create a system for collecting and recycling used label liners and matrix into materials for new products. Our aims are to meet our target of eliminating 70% of external waste from our value chain by 2025, help customers and brands meet their goals for recycling and sustainability, and dramatically reduce the amount of waste our industry produces. The recycling services provided by our network are typically cost neutral or better when compared to existing waste management services, depending on the region and services involved. Recyclers in our network collect and process all matrix and liner waste, not just the materials we supply.

We’ve established several new partnerships through our network since our last sustainability report. In India, we teamed up with Himalaya, a major Indian manufacturer of pharmaceuticals and personal care products, to divert over 140 tons of label waste from landfills and incinerators. Instead, the waste now goes to Mahajan Recycle Resources, which sends the waste to paper mills to be pulped for recycled paper products. And in Brazil, we’re working with recycling expert Boomera to help beauty brand Natura collect and recycle film and paper liner and film matrix from both printers and Natura facilities.

Recycling Liners in China
In 2018, By-Health Co. Ltd., a health supplements company, became the first Chinese brand to sign on to our liner waste recycling program. The results of By-Health’s participation are encouraging. Working with Taiwan-based recycling partner Yuen Foong Yu Group, By-Health has diverted over 100 metric tons of glassine liner away from landfills and into material used in corrugated boxes and more.

Apparel Solutions
Scoring a Point for Fan Jerseys
In 2019, we began to manage the recycling of matrix and liner waste from our heat transfers used by the retailer licensed to sell jerseys for the UK’s Premier League. Shop personnel simply deposit the used liners and matrix in a designated box, which is collected by a recycler who specializes in recycling PET plastic coated with silicon. The process makes our heat transfers a waste-free solution, since the transfer becomes part of the jersey, and the plastic liner and matrix are recycled for use in other products.

Intelligent Labels
Reducing Waste in the Food Industry and Elsewhere with RFID
The United Nations’ August 2019 report on climate change and land noted that at least a quarter of all food worldwide is wasted. Our RFID-based intelligent label solutions are designed to provide greater visibility into the food supply chain, helping producers, transporters, and retailers manage food inventories more efficiently. We believe that, over time, the data collected through RFID-enabled supply chains will enable producers to optimize the food supply for demonstrated demand. Meanwhile, grocers can already go a long way toward eliminating waste by using RFID-tagged products or pallets to get a more accurate picture of their inventories, monitor food temperatures, and better manage expiry to keep food from spoiling. We believe RFID can help grocers reduce waste by as much as 20%, and we’re conducting pilot projects to confirm our projections.

As part of an effort by the Japanese government to make retailers more competitive by adopting the latest-generation technology, we’re supplying RFID tags to enable Japan’s 58,000 convenience stores better manage inventories, reduce waste, and automate customer service. Our innovations—including tags that are readable on packages containing metal and liquid, and that can be microwaved without fire risk—have removed barriers to RFID adoption in Japanese grocery stores and throughout the global grocery and food service industries.

Our intelligent labels are helping reduce waste in other industries as well. In apparel and beauty, RFID is reducing overproduction by letting retailers see “hidden” stock that conventional inventory management systems might miss. And in consumer goods, our intelligent labels are telling product owners how to best recycle items when they are through using them.