Plastics Recycling Update

Recyclable, light-blocking shrink sleeve patented

Brook + Whittle’s GreenLabel BlockOut product is a crystallizable shrink sleeve, which is used with de-inkable inks and a functional barrier coating. | Courtesy of Brook + Whittle

A Connecticut-based manufacturer of shrink sleeves and flexible packaging has secured a U.S. patent for a coating that both blocks light and works in the existing recycling system. 

Brook + Whittle’s GreenLabel BlockOut product is a light-blocking shrink sleeve solution for PET packaging, allowing manufacturers to use clear PET without increasing the risk of the contents going bad.   

“The transition to recyclable clear PET packaging has been particularly challenging in markets such as dairy, beverage and nutraceuticals, where protecting contents from light is crucial to prevent spoilage, nutrient loss and flavor change,” a press release noted. 

Traditionally, those items are packaged in white or colored PET, which the U.S. Plastics Pact lists as problematic and unnecessary, as the colors contaminate the clear PET. 

“This innovative, patented solution enables brands to shift from problematic plastics to clear PET packaging while protecting their products with a unique light-blocking coating,” the press release noted. “Most importantly, it is designed to be fully compatible with existing recycling processes, ensuring it does not contaminate the recycling stream.”

Tyler Matusevich, director of sustainability at Brook + Whittle, said in the press release that it took eight years of development to create the crystallizable shrink sleeve and combine it with its GreenLabel de-inkable inks and a functional barrier coating. 

“We successfully conducted multiple commercial-scale trials to ensure the correct sortation and recyclability of this light-blocking shrink sleeve,” Matusevich said. “Alongside the recyclability benefits of this solution, we expect our customers will benefit from switching to clear PET and lower their extended producer responsibility eco-modulation fees in the future.” 

Daryl Northcott, executive vice president, added in the press release that the company is working to fulfill multiple commercial-scale orders. 

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