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Recycling waste into raw material at Pago Etikettiersysteme

Pago Etikettiersysteme GmbH is experienced in sustainable operations: the company recycles the paper and film by-products from its label printing process. UPM Raflatac’s RafCycle® recycling concept has made the different areas of recycling click into place in an ideal way.

“It’s great that UPM offers a solution for recycling production waste,” says Joachim Müller-Straub, Environmental Manager at Pago. “Recycling waste and reusing it as raw material is a much better option than our previous solution, which involved incinerating our waste material.”
Pago is among Germany’s leading label printing companies and a committed supporter of sustainable development. As a RafCycle partner, the company recycles the paper and film by-products from the label printing process. The agreed quantities of waste material are transported to the UPM ProFi plant in Bruchsal, Germany, and reused as raw material for wood-plastic composite products.

UPM ProFi® is an innovative material. Over 50% of the raw material consists of waste from the manufacture and processing of self-adhesive label materials. UPM ProFi has rapidly grown into Europe’s leading manufacturer of composite materials for patios, terraces and other outdoor spaces.

“Our idea to make recyclable products out of recycled materials has been a success, and at the same time we’re supporting the self-adhesive industry to be more sustainable,” states Gerhard Ernst, General Manager of UPM ProFi Bruchsal. “Pago and Mr Müller-Straub have been one of our first partners making the recycling concept come alive.”

Closed loop achieved

Pago sustainaibility Environmental Manager J. Müller-Straub is an experienced recycling veteran. He began developing Pago’s recycling-based disposal systems in the early 1990s. Back then, the simplest way to dispose of production waste was to pay a fee and send it for landfill.  

By 1994, Pago patented its recycling process for plastic mesh roll waste – a system developed by J. Müller-Straub and his colleagues. “The system ambitiously aimed at a closed cycle, where waste would be transformed back into raw material and natural resources would be efficiently reused,” he explains. “Our project was good, but slightly ahead of its time.” 

Only recently, after collaborating with UPM Raflatac, does J. Müller-Straub see that all the different areas of recycling have clicked into place, as waste produced during label production can be reused as raw material for new products.
“I’m always open to new ideas and recycling methods,” he says. “Especially if they are better and less expensive than previous ones.”

A pioneer in ecological production

pago sustainability 2 J. Müller-Straub is head of the recycling work group in VskE, the German Association of Self-Adhesive Label Manufacturers and Narrow Web Converters. The objective of the group is to create common standards and achieve high quality.  Partners like UPM Raflatac are also welcome to participate in the group’s activities.  “We share our experiences and the partners share theirs,” J. Müller-Straub explains. “We give and we take, that’s the principle.”

He believes companies in the label industry should anticipate the EU’s plans for the sustainable use of energy and resources, and stipulate that our production waste, such as release paper, needs to be recycled. UPM Raflatac’s RafCycle concept is a step in this direction.

Committed to sustainable development

Swiss Pago began making labels in Germany in the town of Aichtal, south of Stuttgart, in 1978. The company, which stands for ecological sustainability and social responsibility, has outgrown its premises several times and risen to the ecological challenges presented by expansion.

Pago has also received several awards for its commitment to sustainable development. Its product portfolio includes biodegradable and compostable labels, and thinner labels that save raw material and storage resources. Pago has also been awarded the DPG deposit system certificate and the FSC forestry certificate. 

According to J. Müller-Straub, environmental protection is an integral part of Pago’s corporate philosophy. An efficient use of raw materials, energy-efficient production, and continuous optimization of the manufacturing process mean the company has as little impact as possible on people and the environment.