Recycling group releases shrink sleeve label guidelines

A post-consumer plastics recycling trade group is out with a set of recommendations to help guide the packaging industry on the use of shrink sleeve labels, a move to help mitigate the label’s impact on container recycling.

The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers said the problem is not completely solved, but progress is being made.

APR recommends companies use “sleeve labels that will float in water and separate from PET flakes in a sink/float material separation step.”

The group also recommends use of printed label inks that do not stain PET flakes in the wash/rinse step of recycling.

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Another recommendation is to use an APR guidance document to assess the impact a label would have on PET bottle recycling.

APR further recommends use of shrink sleeve labels that leave at least 20 percent of PET bottle surface area exposed. “This will allow the most accurate auto-sortation by the broadest range of installed color sorters,” the group said.

APR formed its Sleeve Label Working Group in June 2013 to tackle the issue troubling plastic recyclers.

John Standish is technical director of APR. “Recyclers were seeing more and more containers with full wrap shrink sleeve labels contaminating their materials,” he said in a statement.

Several label manufacturers have worked with APR to create label stock that meets APR recycling guidelines, the group said.

“While we have a ways to go, the market is responding,” Standish said in a statement.