Technological watch

The State of the Global Release Liner Market

While pressure-sensitive label-stock continues to be the largest release liner segment, with a 48% share of the market worldwide and 3.9% forecast annual growth, other segments also continue to move in a positive direction, driving overall growth of the global release liner market to 3.5% in 2019. Faster-growing markets like medical, electronics, and composites, and other application segments such as graphic films, tapes, food and bakery, and envelopes, are all detailed in AWA Alexander Watson Associates’ AWA Global Release Liner Market 2020.  

The new 500-page edition covers all aspects of the market by geography, substrate, applications, trends, developments, and growth drivers.

The annual Global Release Liner Industry Conference and Exhibition, hosted by AWA, was one of the last industry events to take place this spring before the coronavirus lockdown. It took place in Amsterdam at the end of February.

The opening session focussed on opportunities and growth in key release liner markets. AWA President and CEO Corey Reardon opened the event with an overview of the market, noting that while still dominated by label stock, the market segments in which release liner plays an important role also include hygiene, medical, industrial, envelope, tapes, and food and bakery applications. “In such a broad-based industry, innovation is mostly seen in coating, or surface treatment, of release base, as well as in nanotechnology and biomaterials,” Reardon said.

Glassine and SCK paper are still the first choice for release base, with a 36% share of the market. PET film claims second place, with a 16% share. Asia remains the fastest-growing regional market, followed by now developing markets in Africa and the Middle East. 

Reardon stated that the value chain as a whole has experienced extensive merger and acquisition activity, which has led many companies to consider themselves within the ‘global’ space.

One area of concern in the pressure-sensitive label industry has been recycling, particularly of release liner by-products. As Reardon showed in his presentation, there is much activity in this arena: 74% of companies approached by AWA researchers now have a working recycling program, and the packaging industry as a whole now has access to appropriate recycling facilities, which are offering real second-life opportunities for the substrate. Another ongoing area of concern is increasing costs, particularly for transportation and energy.

Robyn Buma, Vice President, Global Procurement, at Avery Dennison, noted the impact of increasing demand for transparency on material sourcing in the label industry, with particular emphasis on the need for sustainability. “Sustainability is not just a hot trend or buzzword — it is a shift in global behavior,” she said, detailing the positive sustainability trends exemplified by major brands, including Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, Danone, Nike, and Coca-Cola.

Buma also examined how the value chain is reacting to the challenges these initiatives present for both converters and suppliers. It is, she emphasized, essential for the industry to respond positively. “The time is now to collaborate, innovate, and do,” said Buma. “It’s from our materials, and from the contributions of the bold innovators behind them, that we’re creating solutions to the sustainability challenges that matter most — and ensuring a thriving future for our business.”

Image courtesy AWA Alexander Watson Associates

Publication date: 16/04/2020

Plastics Today


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.