Realizing zero waste: Flexographic printing solution tesa® Twinlock

The market’s only reusable, self-adhesive and compressible plate mounting sleeve enables printers to reduce their waste footprint while optimizing performance. A South Korean food brand shares their success story.

In January 2018, China banned the import of overseas plastic waste; the then US$200 billion global recycling industry was plunged into turmoil. No longer could the developed world export its unwanted trash to Asia’s superpower. Who would now take in the bulk of the world’s plastic waste?

At first, Asian neighbors Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand among others stood up to the challenge. But their respective governments soon realized that they couldn’t handle their own plastic waste, let alone take in that of other countries.

South Korea likewise struggled. Plastic consumption has long been high in South Korea; even in 2015, the nation consumed 133 kilograms of plastic per capita, surpassing both the US and China (93 kilograms and 58 kilograms of plastic respectively). Following the ban, South Korea’s waste management facilities became overrun not only with its own discarded plastic, but also that of overseas countries. Today, an estimated 1.2 million tons of garbage, a large proportion of it plastic waste, lies in massive trash mountains across the nation.

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Private sector action

Wide angle view at recycling plant conveyor belt transports garbage inside drum filter or rotating cylindrical sieve with trommel
©R_Yosha - stock.adobe.com
Large amount of plastic waste at a recycling plant

An environmental crisis quickly became a social one: South Korea’s 66,000 waste-pickers, mostly in their late 60s or older, were the hardest hit. Their income — derived from selling discarded newspapers, plastics, cardboard and so forth to junk dealers — plummeted, as cheaper and high-quality overseas waste flooded the market.

The South Korean government acted swiftly, introducing a slew of measures during 2018. It pledged to cut back plastic waste creation by 30% by 2022, and by 50% by 2030. It also outlined a plan to raise the nation’s recycling rate from 34% to 70% by 2030. Among other moves, the government outlawed single-use cups in cafes and fast-food chains, and prohibited use of disposable plastic shopping bags in supermarkets.

Yet still, this wasn’t enough, some environmental groups claimed. The nation’s war on waste needed a collective effort involving both society and the business community.

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At the time, South Korean confectionary conglomerate Orion Corporation was already playing its part in reducing waste. The maker of the world-famous Choco Pie rolled out its Good Packaging initiative in 2014 — the program, which is still ongoing, aims to reduce the amount of packaging used by its products, and the amount of ink used for each packet’s external branding. In 2018, the company said that since the launch of the initiative, around 20 products had seen a reduction in packaging size, and since 2016 the amount of ink used for package designs had dropped by 88 tons.

Production footprint

Tesa Germany; Inside Tesa Magazine; Polymount International HQ; the Netherlands; Marcus Koppen photography; April 2018, final retouch
Marcus Koppen
tesa® Twinlock: A self-adhesive and compressible sleeve to mount your flexo printing plates.

The company’s Good Packaging program is part of its overall sustainability drive. Not only is Orion reducing its packaging waste footprint, it is developing more nutritious and healthier snacks than traditional confectionary products.

Keen to make a difference where it can, Orion opted to upgrade its packaging production, swapping from rotogravure printing (gravure) to flexographic printing (flexo). While similarities between gravure and flexo exist — both involve use of sleeves, cylinders, and plates, for example, and can perform long-run, high-volume printing — there are some noteworthy differences. Gravure is incompatible with certain types of ink, whereas flexo can work with most inks, including more environmentally friendly options, for example.

More significantly, with flexo solution tesa® Twinlock, Orion has reduced its environmental footprint even more by using the market’s only reusable, self-adhesive and compressible plate mounting sleeve.

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Further waste reduction

tesa® Twinlock caters to the unique printing preferences of clients such as Orion. Customers first choose a base sleeve from their preferred supplier, with tesa® adding a polyurethane (PU) foam layer on top of this. The PU foam is coated with a unique polymer that remains permanently tacky. When proper cleaning and handling procedures are carried out, there is no limit to how many times tesa® Twinlock can be used — hence greatly reducing waste.

An assortment of four product varieties with three different levels of hardness provides customers with the most suitable sleeve based on their production needs. tesa® Twinlock’s consistent print quality is attributed to its open cell foam structure that absorbs bouncing effects to improve print quality. In addition, laser technology is used to measure our sleeves and ensure they meet a customer’s exact requirements, minimizing tolerance; this limits errors and lowers wastage further.

Moreover, tesa® Twinlock sleeves have the potential to run indefinitely, only needing to be recoated when physical damage occurs to the base sleeve or coating. This contributes to lower running costs, faster return on investment, and more precise estimate of production costs.

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Long-lasting partnerships

Forging partnership_tesa tape Korea and Orion Group
Forging partnership_tesa tape Korea and Orion Group

Given that no disposable tapes are required, tesa® Twinlock aligns perfectly with Orion’s Good Packaging initiative by improving the company’s carbon footprint. Choosing this solution over standard sleeves also saves the company time. Typically tesa® Twinlock takes three minutes to mount versus an average of 10 minutes for regular solutions.

The company also saves costs and further waste by not having to purchase tape that is needed for other flexo solutions.

Switching to tesa® Twinlock was a significant decision for Orion. Fortunately, considerations such as past track record, ensuring uptime, return on investment, and the availability of technical support are items tesa® consistently delivers to its customers.

During the procurement process, tesa® invited Orion representatives to the company’s headquarters in Germany. Here they were able to better understand the capabilities of tesa® Twinlock while experiencing how European printers are prospering with the solution. Later, an engineer visited Orion’s plant in South Korea for three days to provide training for staff. tesa® also provided standard operating procedures in Korean to ensure that there were no misunderstandings. In addition, Orion receives ongoing technical support from tesa®.

The forging of such partnerships is nothing new to tesa®, nor is the servicing we provide to customers. Since our founding more than 120 years ago, and through our continued investment in research and development activities, our corporate strategy is to support the long-term goals, actions and successes of our customers — as they strive to become more productive, safer and do their bit for the environment and society. 

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Founded in 1956, the company is leading the country's confectionery market with popular products, such as caramel and candy. Orion has developed into a global enterprise with production sites in China, Vietnam, and Russia, and also exports to America, Europe, Southeast Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East. In 2018, the sweets manufacturer generated sales of $ 1,751.2 million. In the coming years, Orion will expand its range and become a fully comprehensive food company.

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