Specialist Column

Small Materials but Big Roles for the Environment – Part 1


LINTEC Corporation
Section Manager, Marketing Group, Market Development Office

He joined the company in 1992. After working in a research institute, Osaka branch, and overseas (China), he returned to Japan and joined the current department. He is promoting the development of new markets and new applications for adhesive materials such as stickers and labels.
At home, he is in charge of sticker removal on garbage day. “Whenever I go to a store,” he said, “ I always peel off the labels of products and smell them, which makes the clerks look at me suspiciously. Incidentally, I am not mentally strong enough to endure being looked at suspiciously, soI feel guilty everytime I leave the store.”

Recently, we have been hearing a lot about "eco-friendly" and "eco-friendly living" in various aspects of our lives, but there are many ways to be environmentally conscious, such as reducing the use of depletable resources such as oil, reducing waste, reducing CO₂ emissions, and using biodegradable* materials. Naturally, when we think about the preservation and maintenance of the environment we live in, we are forced to take action, no matter what the approach.

In such a situation, the stickers and labels that we work with are used on various products and places, but in fact, I don't think there are many things that require them stickers and labels. In some cases, printing directly on the product is sufficient.
If you think about it, stickers and labels can be positioned as something that exists to improve the convenience of life. However, without fear of being misunderstood, we can say that they are materials that cause us to wonder if they are absolutely necessary. If that is the case, I would look at them negatively, thinking that they would be the first thing to be eliminated when considering the environment.

labels for oily surface

No, wait a minute. Stickers and labels are not something that you can do without. For example, look at product and ingredient labels. If you print directly on the container, you will have to think about where to print every single time when there is a change in the shape of the container (model change or minor change) to a more user-friendly design due to the efforts of the manufacturer.
It is very difficult to print on a non-flat surface. In addition, if the printing fails, the container may have to be disposed of.
Also, consider the label on the top of wet wipes. If this label is not sealed properly, the contents will dry out and become unusable. In this way, stickers and labels are so familiar in our daily lives that we tend to lose sight of their necessity, but when they are gone, it would be a real problem for us.


However, that doesn't mean that we can use any material or that we can just leave them in the field after use. Some product labels are small and actually made from recycled PET bottle film, can be peeled off cleanly after use, and can be recycled while still attached to the container. I would like to talk more about these interesting technologies in the second part of this article.
Once you have convenience, it is human nature not to want to give it up. That is why stickers and labels are constantly evolving in order for convenience and environmental friendliness to coexist in a natural way.

Please try to understand the big role of small materials.

*Materials, chemicals, etc., that are biodegradable are changed naturally by bacteria into substances that do not harm the environment (Source: Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online)

This article continues to Part 2.

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