APR tackles shrink labels

APR tackles shrink labels

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Shrink labels were a hot topic at the recently-concluded membership meeting of the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers. Many different label technologies are currently being employed and more and more shrink-labeled bottles are being used, with as much as 5 percent of bottles containing labels.

But this increased use has consequences for recycling. Some of the new labels have a specific gravity greater than one, meaning sink-float separation isn't effective. Also, the thickness of some labels increases in hot washing, which can make the material as thick as lightweighted water bottle scrap.

To address these and other issues, PepsiCo. recently undertook a recyclability study which compared the recycling of non-labeled bottles and a group of bottles in which half were labeled. Eleven different label compositions were analyzed.

"The good news is we have identified several recycling-friendly label materials," said Weilong Chiang of PepsiCo. These highly rated labels generally are polyolefin based, rather than being made from cavitated PETG and other polymers. In addition, the research found that
post-grind elutriation helps with shrink label removal.

The study also asked if perforated labels help or hurt bottle recycling. To address this issue, perforated labels were processed by Pure Tech and Evergreen Recycling. The researchers suggest that while perforation shows promise in terms of recyclability, this area needs further study.

Pascal Chapon contended that Sleever International's LDPET shrink labels should be considered by bottle makers because of its recyclability benefits. Sleever tested the impact of LDPET labels at 15 reclamation plants in Australia and Europe. Chapon says the research shows that 99 percent of the LDPET is removed in the sink-float and elutriation steps at PET reclamation plants. Sleever's LDPET labels are not used yet in North America.

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Pepsico Recyclability Study

Where can I find the recyclability study you mentioned on this article?

Recyclability studies

The actual presentations are mostly likely for APR members only, but I would encourage you to write to the individuals cited in the article (Weilong Chiang and Pascal Chapon) for more information on their findings.

Henry Leineweber, Plastics Recycling Update