Recycling resources for label industry waste in the UK


I have blogged for years on the problems facing the labels industry in managing its waste streams, and to a large degree most of the problems are  still here, but getting closer to a solution. This is a summary of the options as far as I know:


The labelling industry produces millions of m2 of siliconised label waste like this a year - and we cannt work out a way of reusing it.

Siliconised glassine paper release liner (“backing paper”) – this cannt be recycled with normal paper as you need a sophisticated deinking plant to remove the silicone.  Consequently the options are limited to landfill, waste to energy or recycling (which is often uneconomic at current rates).

Major recyclers of siliconised glassine release liners include:

  • Chanelled resources – who ship the paper for reuse overseas
  • Cycle for green – recycling by reprocessing at Lenzing Papier in Austria at a specialist plant
  • UPM papers- recycling in France via  Vertaris by reprocessing 

To my knowledge there are no UK recyclers of glassine liner, and only 2 plants in Europe (France and Austria) that can reproceses it.

Siliconised PET (polyester) release liner – this cannt be recycled with normal PET.  Consequently the options are limited to landfill, waste to energy or specialist recycling

Major recyclers of siliconised PET release liners include

Siliconised PP (polypropylene) release liner – this is a new and emerging release liner solution that can sometimes be recycled with other PP plastic waste provided that it is properly segregated.  Consequently the options are limited to landfill, waste to energy or specialist recycling

Major recyclers of siliconised PP release liners include

  • UPM

Matrix Waste

This is the biggest unaddressed problem.  Mercian Labels commissionsed a report from a leading European academic specialising in waste management in 2008, which recommended that the only viable options were landfill (undesirable but cost effective), or waste to energy, which is the position we are trying to move to.  This is because its a mix of paper, plastic, adhesive, ink and silicone that cannt be separated into different waste streams.  I have blogged on this subject before here and here , and the position remains largely unchanged.  From our perspective, we are waiting for a waste to energy plant to be built near one of our operations in Cannock as our long term solution.


If you generate batches of more than  3 tonnes of liner then you can get it recycled through one of the routes described above.  If you are a smaller user, and most people will be, then I am afraid that to our knowledge there are no other recycling options available at the moment in the UK.

  • Dear Dr Steele,
    I can certainly help. There is a process developed in Thailand which can separate paper from all types of materials such as silicon, pe and wax. It is enzyme based technology and I am responsible for setting up the first plant of its kind which will be in South Wales. Please contact me directly and I will explain in a lot more detail,
    Wayne Dobson

  • Horn Christian

    Hello adrian, we have developped a process to recycle 660 tons per month of pp label matrix waste. We would like to know if you be interested in collaborating with us on this matter as this would seriously reduce your landfill costs. We also have a solution for siliconed backing foils (pet glassine) but it must be without residual label on them and in rolls form. If you send me an email i will send you pictures of recycled pp matrix. Have a nice week and please do not hesitate to contact me under 0032475412291 so we can talk about the future on these 2 waste streams.

  • Jayshiv Bankeshwar

    Hi Adrian,

    Your article is very interesting and I would like to know more about this. We have a contract with one of Indias biggest label manufacturer Interlabels now Skanem Interlabels for disposal of all their wastage. We are facing a lot of problem with the shredded, baled label waste as traditionally we sold it to scrap vendor to used it in the fruit and artifacts industry as cusion for packaging. However off lately there is no demand and we are getting high pressure to dispose.

    We are now looking at alternative methods or recycling methods that we can use. I would love to discuss this further with you. You can reach out to me on or on my cell phone +919769253533