The Assn of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) has issued a new guidance document to deal with the growing issue of full-body sleeve labels on PET bottles.
The Sleeve Label Substrate for PET Bottles Critical Guidance document addresses several key label design issues that affect the removal of the labels in recycling process and quantifies the effects of label residue on PET bottle recycling.
Through testing and data interpretation, the document helps packaging decision makers select label substrates and materials more compatible with PET bottle recycling than some currently offered.
The new guidance protocol streamlines the testing for full-body labels on PET bottles, omitting some tests as not relevant to the labels and expanding on other subjects in the well-established PET Bottle Critical Guidance Document in an effort to reduce testing cost and increase protocol usage.
APR's president, Steve Alexander, said: "We see a tremendous amount of concern regarding the presence of full sleeve labels on PET bottles and the impact of the labels on the ability of bottles with such labels to be reclaimed using existing recycling technology.
"There are some statements that reclaimers are able to process PET bottles with shrink-sleeve labels without problems. Not exactly. The vast majority of PET reclaimers report that the labels are a serious problem for recycling."
Dave Cornell, APR's technical director, said: "While APR feels that sleeve labels on PET bottles can be helpful, they are mostly a problem to PET recycling. The problem starts at the local municipal sorting center, the MRF. The automatic sorting machines often cannot see through the labels to correctly identify the PET resin.
"This means a loss of revenue to the local collection system and loss of raw material to the reclaiming community. PET recyclers face added problems because many companies with modern pre-wash systems find the labels do not readily come off the PET bottles."
The new guidance document is based, in part, on comprehensive examination of the impacts of label substrate choices as investigated by Plastic Forming Enterprises under contract to APR. APR's Critical Guidance Documents are part of its larger Champions for Change programme, in which the association works with other industries to achieve higher quality and more economical recyclate. The voluntary programme provides clear direction for packaging innovators and possible recognition for those whose innovations meet or exceed the guidance.
The Assn of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) is the trade association of companies that recycle post-consumer plastics in North America.
Source: Assn of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers
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