APR responds to delabeling announcement

APR responds to delabeling announcement

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) has issued a robust response to last week's announcement by Eastman Chemical Company and the Full-Wrap Label Consortium of a successful trial of a full-wrap delabeling process.

Pointing out that the results of the study have not been independently verified, APR called the claim that the announcement represented a significant breakthrough, "at best premature." Many plastic processors have reported problems where full-sleeve labels interfere with effective sorting by preventing scanners from accurately identifying the type of plastic in the bottle. Additionally, processors have also reported problems of label pieces persisting through wash lines.

The Consortium announcement specifically related to a pilot project at a plastic recycling facility in which full-wrap labels with perforations were separated from PET bottles with a 97 percent success rate.

"The focus on delabel technology as the silver bullet solution to the contamination caused by full-wrap shrink-sleeve labels and its impact on PET recycling is myopic," said Tom Busard, chairman of APR and vice president of Plastipak. "It is imperative that the industry understand that investments in delabeling technology, which the manufacturers themselves admit is a work in progress, create undesirable capital, maintenance and productivity reduction costs to the recycling industry. The plastics recycling industry does not see wide use of delabel equipment by itself as a desirable or effective solution. Additional technical development beyond delabel methods is required before the negative impact of sleeve labels on PET recycling can be managed successfully."

APR technical director John Standish also took the opportunity to reiterate the organization's focus on reducing and avoiding contamination of the recycling stream. Standish pointed out that the organization advocates for label designs and technologies that allow sleeve labels to be separated during the wash process, as well as label designs that do not interfere with auto-sortation technology. He also noted that the presence of labels themselves reduce overall yields per bale.

APR released a guidance on full-sleeve labels earlier this year based in part on findings from a comprehensive study of label issues conducted by Plastic Forming Enterprises. APR's guidance document includes information on sorting, processing and product design, and continues to work on the issue.

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