Features | September 13, 2022
Sustainable Labels and Packaging
As more companies commit to sustainability goals, funding and partnerships have sprung into action. The recent industry buzz is all about more collaboration between consumer packaged goods companies, suppliers and recycling facilities. Whether your customer’s label or packaging goal is biodegradable, compostable, environmentally benign, recyclable, repulpable, has recycled content, is water dissolvable or is FSC Certified, sustainability is the focus of material, adhesive and ink suppliers driving change.
Here are just a few examples of companies leading the shift toward sustainable practices:
- Mactac developed a Simply Sustainable brand under the initiative to choose environmental best practices. The brand is ingrained in responsible innovation, culture and values.1
- SunChemical®’s sustainability portfolio includes products and technologies that support the five R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Renew, Recycle and Redesign, supporting the transition from a linear to a circular economy, thereby reducing CO2 emissions and lessening their environmental impact.2
- UPM Raflatac takes a 360° approach to sustainable packaging solutions — from responsible sourcing to manufacturing, services and design. UPM is committed to its vision of labeling a smarter future beyond fossils.3
- HP was recognized among the 2020 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World and has achieved numerous sustainability awards year after year. The HP Indigo press has compostable inks that are certified as compatible with recycling.4
In the label industry, material suppliers are choosing environmental best practices and building a culture of responsible manufacturing and innovation. They are using less energy and fewer raw materials for manufacturing, reducing freight (which includes reducing fuel and CO2 emissions), reducing packaging waste (cores, cartons, wrapping, etc.) and increasing productivity. Suppliers are also innovating new products to reduce waste and promote recyclability for the entire supply chain.1
- Material suppliers are using post-consumer waste label stock within product construction.3 UPM Raflatac announced their accomplishment as “the first label material producer to bring a new wood-based polypropylene film material into the market.” According to a press release from the company: “UPM Biofuels converts pulp production residue into renewable naphtha, a drop-in raw material for the chemical industry. Replacing fossil raw materials brings substantial climate and environmental benefits.” The company also shared: “This innovative film will answer brand owners’ needs to replace traditional fossil-based virgin materials with renewable ones.”5
- Adhesives are being formulated with renewable resources.
- Polypropylene label stocks are being manufactured with an adhesive that will float off PET clamshells, bottles and other containers during the washing process for recycling, leaving no adhesive residue behind. This allows the recycled PET to be utilized for new high-value products, creating a circular economy.1
- Recycle-compatible adhesives, when applied to paper, can be recycled with paper that is repulpable.1
- Material suppliers are making thinner liners, which reduce environmental impact and provide up to 15% more labels per roll.1
- Instead of bleached liners, Kraft liners are being used to reduce carbon emissions.1
- Suppliers are using recycled and post-consumer waste in their liners.1
- New resin technology has been developed, allowing the PET shrink sleeves to be recycled together with PET bottles.
- Ink supplier SunChemical® has developed washable ink technologies to allow increased recyclability of shrink sleeves. The inks are formulated to detach from the film so that their particles can be filtered from caustic wash solutions in typical recycling processes. The inks removed do not bleed or stain the PET flakes being recycled.2
Made possible by material advancements and new technology, flexible packaging’s growth has been primarily due to a need for economic and sustainable alternatives to rigid packaging.
- The flexible plastic pouches market is estimated to value $73.5 billion by 2026. This increase in demand is due to flexible packaging being lightweight, convenient and a cost-effective packaging solution for food and beverage applications.6
- Fifty pounds of glass bottles equal one and a half pounds of pouches. An unfilled 8-ounce glass bottle with a metal cap weighs 198.4 grams. In comparison, flexible material with the same product capacity weighs 5.7 grams. For equal amounts of product, 26 truckloads of bottles are needed, but only one truckload of unfilled 8 oz. pouches.7
- In addition to flexible packaging using less energy and generating less CO2 emissions in transportation, it also has reduced mass and contributes less to landfills.7
- According to an article from Flexible Packaging Magazine, the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition “will distribute around $1 million in catalytic grants to advance polypropylene recycling in the U.S. This second round of investment for the coalition targets sortation of polypropylene (PP) at mechanical recycling facilities and local consumer education efforts. … The funds will improve curbside PP recycling for an additional 3% of all U.S. households and increase the recovery of 4.3 tons of PP annually.”6
Sustainability is an immediate, global issue; it is a personal and corporate responsibility that cannot be put off any longer. How are you meeting your customer’s sustainability goals for labels and packaging?
- Mactac® | Simply Sustainable Roll Label Solutions (mactac.com) - https://www.mactac.com/PR-PUREfloat
- Nikola Juhasz, Global Technical Director of Sustainability at SunChemical® podcast: (packagingstrategies.com/media/podcasts)
- Sustainable Labels (upmraflatac.com)
- Hewlett-Packard® 4AA7-8653ENW.pdf (hp.com)
- UPM Raflatac® responds to the growing need for renewable packaging materials by unveiling the industry’s first wood-based film material (upmraflatac.com)
- Gerke, G. (2021, June 15). Is polypropylene recycling hitting its stride in 2021? Flexible Packaging. https://www.flexpackmag.com/articles/91319-is-polypropylene-recycling-hitting-its-stride-in-2021
- FPA, “Flexible Packaging: Less Resources. Less Footprint. More Value.” Case Study Brochure (flexpack.org)
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