A common theme throughout the event was advancing sustainable solutions. In particular, the presenters explained how their companies are designing more environmentally friendly shrink sleeve solutions for the market.
At the end of the event, Reardon announced that AWA was launching its sustainability practice as part of its market research analysis and business development. This new segment will monitor industry developments around green products and recycling initiatives.
“Sustainability is a key topic for us, and that was even before the pandemic,” noted Corey Reardon, president and CEO of AWA Alexander Watson Associates. “It hasn’t backed down either, as it remains a key driver of innovation, especially for the heat-shrink sleeve market. Sustainability is probably one of the most important issues facing the labeling and packaging industry today. This is something that we have to deal with in the long term. “
Linnea Keen, President of TLMI, promoted CELAB and the industry’s willingness to come together to find solutions for liner recycling and matrix waste. “We have enough people involved in CELAB that I think we are creating a real dynamic for sustainability,” she said. “It is happening all over the world as well.”
John Pogatschnik, North American Marketing Director for Flint Group Narrow Web, identified the various barriers to recycling shrink sleeves. Each part of the packaging has the capacity to help affect the recyclability of the packaging. These include labeling technology, closure, dispenser, inks and coatings, and artwork.
“Recycling will only work if the solution simply fits into your existing operations,” said Pogatschnik. “These products need to fit seamlessly into your existing operations. Sustainability without profitability is not sustainable.
He adds that the label industry has a major impact in the recovery stage. Labeling materials play a role in increasing the recovery efficiency of recycled resin packaging flakes. Inks and coatings, for example, have two requirements: labels deinked when label materials are recycled and resist ink leakage when the label is separated in the recycling stream.
Collaboration will play a key role in the future. “I don’t think we are leveraging enough suppliers,” Pogatschnik noted. “Your suppliers have been working on these solutions for years. They are involved in organizations focused on recycling and sustainability. We have all tested products and failed, and learned from those failures. We’re innovating all the time and we’ve come a long way, but we’re not done yet.
Meanwhile, Marika Knorr, Head of Sustainability and Communications at CCL, explained how Europe has approached the issue of recyclability of heat shrink sleeves. According to Knorr, Europe has a 94% recycling rate for PET bottles and 37.7% of recycled materials are used in new PET bottles.
“We need to move from a linear system to a circular economy, and we all need to work together to recycle as much as possible to avoid even more waste,” she said. “Traditionally, Europe has had a different approach to recycling than other parts of the world. I think we will see a lot of developments in the next few years in North America, South America and Asia.
To meet the demand for sustainability, CCL has developed EcoFloat sleeves designed for recycling PET. These floating shrink films are made from transparent low density polyolefin.
“If you talk to recyclers, they’ll tell you that 80% of recycling is sorting,” Knorr explained. “During the development of EcoFloat, we partnered with Interseroh to perform NIR sorting tests. We received APR Critical Guidance recognition in the first quarter of 2021, along with other certifications around the world.
John Lyons, senior product manager at Taghleef Industries, added that his company has also launched a floating solution to help with recyclability. “Shape360 TDS 50 is designed to provide recyclability, versatility and shelf appeal,” commented Lyons. “TDS guarantees up to 65% withdrawal and is fully APR compliant. “
Randall Welborn, Sales Director at Bonset, illustrated the current landscape and the near term goals and challenges at the event. According to Bonset, the use of PVC shrink films continues to shrink and PETG shrink films are seeing their use continuously increase. These shrink films are commonly used with a wide range of container types and shapes markets.
There is an interest in recyclable shrink films and their use is increasing, he said.
“Over the past few years, we have seen an increase and continued use of recyclable shrink films, especially as many top brands are committed to meeting sustainability and recycling goals, as well as creating an economy. circular, ”Wellborn said. “We are seeing PET labels with washable inks on PET containers, and sustainability is the logical next step for the market. “
In the short term, some goals include the development of viable alternatives to PVC films, as well as recyclable alternatives to PETG films. The challenge, however, is that the needs of the market are complex, as different containers require different materials and performance, which have varying recycling processes. There will always be a delicate balance between cost and possibility of payback.
“While there are currently recyclable options on the market, the R&D is not complete,” noted Wellborn. “We need to develop a wide range of sustainable film offers because the needs of the market are complex. I expect to see a higher level of adoption for these solutions. There will be alternatives to PVC with multiple crystallizable and floating solutions, and a shift in the next 3 to 5 years towards more sustainable solutions such as PETC. “