SAB adopts Ritrama linerless labels

South Africa Brewery, or SAB, , which is part of the ABInBev Group, has become the first company worldwide to adopt Ritrama’s Core Linerless Solutions to label its beer bottles.

Ritrama has developed the Core Linerless Label solution, where the liner is reused as a protective laminate.

The basic idea behind the Core Linerless Solution, or CLS, is that reducing process waste from liner should reduce costs and improve overall sustainability. Ritrama has developed the material but has also worked with Omet, which has developed a lamination unit, and Spilker for the finishing module, as well as Ilti for the dispenser. 

The actual material is a self-adhesive laminated label without liner. It has a very thin construction, which is made of polypropylene with a siliconized polyester multifunctional smart liner, and which is available in gloss, white, silver and clear versions. 

The printing can be done with existing conventional technology but it does require a specific converting process. Once printed, the reel is loaded into the lamination module developed by Omet, where the self-adhesive material is delaminated under tension and the smart liner is then hot-laminated on top of the face material to create a single ply Linerless web. In this way, the liner ends up becoming part of the label, protecting the printed surface, which is quite a smart idea.

After this the laminated reel is transferred to the finishing unit, which has been specifically designed by Spilker to die-cut and inspect the CLS materials at high speed. Both the laminating and finishing unit run at 150 mpm.

The end result is a reel of laminated labels. Ilti has developed a new linerless dispenser that allows the application of 36,000 labels per hour. In addition, since the label material is thinner, each reel contains twice as many labels so that there are fewer reel changes during the production process. A further benefit is that the thin labels mean there’s less volume to be transported and handled.

SAB has used the linerless labels on its Flying Fish flavoured beer, having started the project back in 2017. This led to a pilot at the end of 2018 with large-scale production starting in April 2019. SAB says that it intends to use these labels for all of its product portfolio once it has finished the testing and control phase on the Flying Fish beer labelling line. This should allow it to save some 57 tonnes of waste per year, in South Africa alone.

Sergio Veneziani, Ritrama’s product manager for the Core Linerless Solutions, commented: “The project with SAB was an exciting team effort that marked an important development in industry innovation, giving Ritrama the opportunity to assert its capabilities worldwide. We look forward to further extending this technology to the benefit of the environment and society.”

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