Green light for environmentally friendly reel-fed paper labels

by Ed Binsted - Editor of International Bottler & Packer

Sustainability does not always mean cheaper prices for brand owners. When brand owners seek to do the best for their consumers regarding the environment, the costs can often blow a project off course due to price.

I was intrigued to get a call from Tony Knight, Chairman of Papico, the UK’s largest label paper merchants, who have represented Brigl & Bergmeister in the UK for around thirty years, when he discussed Brigl’s idea of roll-fed paper labelling - Brigl had developed NiklaPET Web 80 and 55 gms paper stock.

Americk Webtech in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, had printed a number of reels, so all was set to go, all that was needed was a competent labelling machine manufacturer to apply reel-fed wraparound labels at line speeds of around 30,000 c.p.h. to close the loop on the service offering.

Makro Labelling of Goito, Italy were contacted through their UK company managing director, Richard Portman, who immediately saw the benefits of the Brigl label paper.

I was invited to Makro to see the testing with all the team members, the result was perfect, no web breaks at high speed or emergency stop, a classic case of all the elements coming together with an outstanding end result.

Richard Portman picked up the story to date, "Prior to the trials, we did some research to see what the main benefits of reel-fed paper are and who would be long term beneficiaries of the concept.

We all agreed at the start of the project that it would more likely be those food and drink companies who currently use pre-cut paper labels for wraparound application, such as producers of mineral water, juice and dilute to taste drinks and the food can, sauces, pickles and preserves markets."

Richard and Tony then produced some enlightening costings for projects that are just coming to fruition, these involve a mineral water bottler and two food manufacturers, one in cans the other in the bottle source sector.

The prices set out below are the rates currently being paid.
To give a full comparison –
38-micron film printed in 6 colours works out at: £1.90 per 1000 labels
80gms paper in pre- cut labels £3.20 per 1000
80gms reel-fed paper £2.24 per 1000
55gms reel-fed paper £2.07 per 1000


PET mineral water / soft drinks project
This line is running at 400 b.p.m, which equates to 137million bottles a year. Assuming a reduction from the current label cost of £1.13 per 1000 labels, representing a saving of £156,000 a year on labels.

Cook-In-Sauce project
The sauce project was replacing cut and stack paper and currently produce 123 million jars a year.
The saving on the paper alone works out at £52k on 80gms.
Even replacing the current labeller with a Makro roll feed, the initial return on investment of the new labeller will be 18 months with further future ongoing annual savings in excess of £52k per annum.

Canned Food project
This line is currently labelling at 600 c.p.m. assuming a reduction from the current label cost of 10%.
With 200million cans per year there is an annual saving of £72k per year on the labels.
Hence, return on investment of the new labeller will be less than 14 months with further ongoing annual savings of £72k per annum.

So whichever sector of the industry you are from, even if you replace your current labelling machine, the pay back over a ten-year period can easily exceed £½ million and could be as much as £1½ million.

Richard continued, "I am not suggesting at this stage that those using film will necessarily want to change as there is a slight cost disadvantage, unless of course they want to change from an environmental stand point. If you are not dealing with the huge volume retailers where costs are always under scrutiny, the extra cost of paper vs. film is really tiny and could either be absorbed or a small increase on selling price would cover it."

Another clear advantage is in the reduction of manning requirements. Typically a cut and stack labelling machine needs constant attention, whereas a roll feed labeller only needs operator interventions every 30 minutes or so.

Peter Cechal, Sales Director and Helmut Teuschler, Technical Services at Brigl & Bergmeister said "It has taken two years of development to bring NiklaPET Web to the market. As a label paper it has wonderful print capabilities. Being able to find a partner like Makro, who have been able to demonstrate that the roll fed labels can be applied and cut at high speed is very exciting for us. Our customers have been asking us if it is possible to deliver a safe and proven system and we believe it is now not just a possibility but a reality. It is the launch of one of the most exciting developments in paper label technology for many years.

At Brigl we have the know-how to cut and produce the label reels, there are specialist printers in the UK, Americk Webtech and Tipographic, with many others in Europe and the US. We feel very positive about this new development, which opens up so many environmentally friendly cost saving opportunities for brand owners, and will put some much needed profits onto their bottom line."

Richard Portman concluded, "This collaboration with Brigl is a great example of how many of the innovations we have put into our labelling technology over the past seven years has given our clients real alternatives. With the investment in a new Makro labeller payback can be very quick, possibly less than twelve months with continued substantial savings ongoing."