FINAT, the European label association, has released its whitepaper Role Of Self-Adhesive Labels In PET Recycling, calling for a full value chain partnership to develop circular packaging.
Self-adhesive labels are a highly versatile packaging solution, and follow Eco-design principles to fit different packaging types and applications, according to the report. The choice of a self-adhesive label and its components is application-dependent, and the design of the packaging needs to take into account its complete life cycle, including recycling. During the recycling of PET containers, shredded PET flakes need to be separated from other materials as efficiently as possible.
Specifically created “wash-off” self-adhesive labels are designed to release from the PET container in the washing step of the recycling process, resulting in clean PET flakes that enable closed-loop recycling.
Labels incorporating permanent adhesives, on the other hand, could hinder recycling as these are not designed to be cleanly released in the washing conditions used and contaminate PET flakes or stick to the recycling equipment. Both technologies are visually indistinguishable, but behave drastically different during the recycling process.
The whitepaper calls for producers of packaged goods to critically assess the overall recyclability of their packaging designs. For this purpose, FINAT proposes a full value chain partnership between brand owners, converters and manufacturers of self-adhesive labels to ensure that the optimal label is used for a specific purpose, taking the recycling into account. Wash-off self-adhesive labels are an existing solution to increase the quantity and quality of recycled PET, thus enabling packaging circularity.
The whitepaper is available for download at https://www.finat.com/documents/1070/20230720-finat-whitepaper-labels-enabling-pet-recycling.pdf.