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Guidance on the use of recycling-friendly sleeve labels

United States – The US Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) has published recommendations to help guide the packaging industry on the use of shrink sleeve labels as part of a bid to mitigate their impact on container recycling.

Key recommendations from the trade group include: employing sleeve labels that will float in water and separate from PET flakes during a sink/float material separation step; using printed labels where the label inks do not stain PET flakes during a wash/rinse step; and where possible, using a sleeve label that leaves at least 20% of the PET bottle surface area exposed. Adoption of this approach will allow the most accurate auto-sortation by the broadest range of installed colour sorters, it is contended.

According to APR, the shrink sleeve problem is far from resolved and yet progress is being made. The organisation launched its Sleeve Label Working Group in June 2013 ′to clearly identify steps that would allow brand owners to take advantage of these labels without creating a negative impact on the quality of the rPET stream′, notes APR′s technical director John Standish.

′Unfortunately, these labels serve as a great marketing tool, but they essentially render the container non-recyclable,′ comments Byron Geiger, chairman of the APR Technical Programme and president of Custom Polymers PET. Standish adds: ′The market is responding and working with APR to create guidelines that provide for the continued use of a full wrap label that meets the needs of the recycler. As the market evolves, we are hopeful more and more companies adopt this new label innovation for use with their products.′

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