Petcore Europe's ODR Working Group has been working on increased recyclability of sleeved PET bottles as the use of sleeves can cause problems in sorting of PET bottles via Near Infrared (NIR) and optical detectors used in waste plastic packaging sorting and recovery plants. In order to not lose the valuable material and include it in the right sorting stream, the group under the lead of Chair Gian De Belder, P&G, came up with a solution: perforated sleeves - which can be removed by the consumers.
During the Petcore Europe Conference on 7 February, the official announcement was made: The Technical Committee of the European PET Bottle Platform (EBPB) has awarded a temporary endorsement to full body sleeves used on Household and Personal Care (HPC) PET bottles for a period of three years, provided the following conditions are met:
- The sleeve is equipped with double perforations which is designed to be easily identified and removed by consumers.
- The packaging Industry develops a standardised perforation concept, both in terms of functionality (easy tearing off operation) and design (immediate recognition), irrespective of the type and content of the PET bottle.
- To support the above, PET bottles with perforated sleeves must carry a standardised message for the consumer asking them to remove the sleeve from the bottle, and then place both the bottle and the sleeve in the collection bin or bag for recycling.
- The packaging Industry must support consumer cooperation with communication campaigns and provide data on the effectiveness of the consumer engagement.
- The PET bottle behind the sleeve must be compliant with the EPBP guidelines for transparent clear/light blue bottles and the sleeve should allow the recognition of the PET bottle, by polymer, if the sleeve is still present on the bottle before sorting.
- The sleeve design (materials and inks) must allow it to float in hot water and separate from PET flakes in a sink/float separation step.
- Printed sleeves must not bleed inks into the washing water.
Petcore Europe ODR Working Group Chairman Gian De Belder speaks of a big step forward: "The approval is a great example of a cross-value chain approach. Petcore Europe, EPBP, Plastics Recyclers Europe and other associations worked together to align the industry and improve the design-for-recycling of HPC PET bottles."