Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Packaging trends are increasingly dominated by sustainability. As we move towards a circular economy, the 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle play a key role. We look at some of the significant developments in these three areas in the world of labeling.
When it comes to packaging, less is more. MCC’s Global R&D team have developed a range of technologies that allow our customers to reduce their overall material usage.
Pressure Sensitive Labels
MCC has led a film weight reduction program over recent years that has seen face stock reduced by 33% and liner by 25%. This development results in a reduction in the raw materials used and liner waste that needs to be recycled, effectively lowering the overall CO2 footprint.
In addition to lightweighting, MCC is working with a variety of alternative material options. In cooperation with our suppliers we are working on multiple innovations, including:
• A Marble Waste face stock containing 80% marble mining waste with up to 20% recycled polyethylene, delivering a matte, soft-touch effect.
• A range of Bio-based films, derived from plant-based materials and recyclable within existing recycling streams.
Manufacturers from around the globe are rapidly converting to the graphic and performance benefits of pressure sensitive labels. However, traditional constructions are not compatible with returnable bottle systems. Standard non-returnable (one-way) pressure sensitive labels do not release cleanly in the bottle washing process, causing efficiency and contamination issues. Richard Gilliatt, Technical Director and lead in the development of wash-off labels explains how MCC is addressing the problem with its ThermoWash™ technology.
What is ThermoWash™?
Pressure Sensitive Labels, engineered especially for returnable glass. Printed on MCC’s wash off material, the single use labels easily detach from bottles in the washer. This technology is designed to complement traditional paper wash-off labels, requiring no changes to the majority of bottle washing machines.
How does the technology work?
The face material of ThermoWash™ is made from shrinkable film combined with a custom-designed adhesive in a traditional pressure sensitive construction. The label is designed to detach cleanly from the bottle and is easily removable from the bottle washer.
Are there design limitations?
No, this technology allows all the aesthetic and design benefits of traditional pressure sensitive labels. We have seen excellent graphic reproduction with the incorporation of specialty inks, the use of high-opacity white ink and brilliant metallic inks. ThermoWash™ technology also allows label promotions for limited time periods without requiring any changes to the bottle.
What is the environmental impact?
The inks and adhesives remain attached to the label substrate through the entire label removal process. If ThermoWash™ labels are separated from other waste material in the washer, these labels can be recycled as mixed plastic where local regulations permit.
Recycling is firmly on the global packaging agenda. It is a key part of most corporate and brand development plans. Take Pepsico, for example, as part of its global sustainability agenda one of its 2025 goals is to ‘strive to design 100% of our packaging to be recyclable, compostable or biodegradable, increase recycled materials in our plastic packaging, reduce packaging’s carbon impact, and in partnership with the PepsiCo Foundation, work to increase recycling rates.’
More plastic is being recycled than ever before, according to the latest figures from the new ‘Post-Consumer Plastic Waste Management in European Countries’ report (Source: PlasticsEurope) For the first time, more plastic waste has been recycled than landfilled.
As recycling grows, a new problem has emerged – contamination. Labels can be contaminants due to adhesives not detaching cleanly, materials becoming mixed or inks bleeding into the wash. MCC is committed to delivering sustainable solutions that allow for improved recycling compatibility and with recycLABEL®, have introduced a range of label technology options that are completely compatible with the PET recycling process. These industry leading developments led to MCC being recognized with the APR’s ‘Partner for Change Award’ and the TLMI Environmental Leadership Award.
recycLABEL® – Multiple Shrink Sleeve Options
For shrink sleeves there isn’t a single solution, so MCC offers four recycLABEL® Shrink technologies. Craig Bushman, head of R&D at MCC explains:
De-seaming technology: the seam of the shrink sleeve ‘unzips’ during the whole-bottle wash process in the reclaiming environment.
Floatable film shrink sleeve: a more fitting approach for recycling in Europe is the use of polyolefin films that float in the sink-float separation process.
Crystallizable PET: this is the newest approach to address the recycling problem. This method uses shrink sleeve film material that is compatible with the PET container resin. In addition, the artwork ink is designed to be removed completely in a caustic bath; the ink does not dissolve but remains as solid particles, which can be filtered off. As a result, clean PET film can then be incorporated by the reclaimer, thereby increasing the yield.
Last but not least, there is a fourth option, which involves the addition of twin perforations on the side of the sleeve that allows consumers to remove the sleeve from the bottle before placing both the sleeve and the bottle into collection bins or bags. This option is a conditional interim endorsement by EPBP for perforated, tear-off, full body sleeves for personal and household care PET bottles.