The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) today endorsed the newly published Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers’(APR) guidance document pertaining to full wrap shrink sleeve labels for PET bottles, “SleeveLabel Substrate for PET Bottles Critical Guidance Document.” This testing and guidanceprotocol document is intended to provide brand owners and manufacturers the means to evaluatethe effects of these labels on the PET recycling stream.“
NAPCOR became squarely involved in this issue, not just because of the adverse economicimpacts these labels are currently having on PET reclaimers, but also because of their potentialfor rapid growth across brands and product categories,” said NAPCOR Executive DirectorDennis Sabourin. “We applaud the APR’s release of this protocol.”
As brand owners increasingly embrace these full wrap shrink labels as an attractive option forproduct differentiation, what were nuisance volumes just a few years ago are now reaching nearcrisisproportions for PET reclaimers, according to Sabourin. Full wrap shrink labels aregenerally disruptive to both the sorting and processing of post consumer PET.
In an effort to inform and educate brand owners as to the severity of the issue for PET recycling, NAPCOR is in communication with several of the largest brands currently using this labelingtechnology, and is working to help them understand the scope of the problem and to findrecycling compatible alternatives. The APR protocol will provide a more uniform platform forthis ongoing work.
“Cost-effective, recycling friendly full wrap labeling technology is currently available for someapplications, with more being developed by companies focused on providing sustainabletechnologies to their customers,” said Sabourin. “We plan to continue to explore collaborativesolutions to address this issue.”
Currently, the majority of PET reclaimers—particularly those producing recycled PET materialsuitable for use in new containers—have to remove these bottles from their PET recyclingstreams, after which the bottles are either stockpiled, re-baled and exported, or handledseparately. All of these options cause significant economic impact, the result of both theadditional handling and the potential de-valuation of the PET bales.
Full wrap shrink labels affect the PET reclamation process at several junctures: their fullcoverage impairs resin identification by automated equipment used to sort recyclables bymaterial type; and the full-wrap shrink labels cannot be removed from containers by traditionalprewash technology. However, the most problematic of these labels are those that sink in wateralong with the PET during processing, thus creating more contamination than can be acceptablyremoved during the conventional PET recycling process. (More detail can be found inNAPCOR’s position statement on this topic, http://www.napcor.com/pdf/NAPCORfullwrap.pdf.)
The new guidance document forms part of the APR’s larger Champions for ChangeTM Program,which includes design for recycling and critical issues information. It will provide the basis tobetter determine and address potential full wrap shrink label impacts, ultimately giving brandowners the assurance that their bottles will be recycled in an acceptable and efficient fashion.The document is available at www.plasticsrecycling.org