Blog | 12/12/2018 11:14:00 | 2 min Read time

Labels: the missing link in sustainable packaging

Tyler Matusevich

Sustainability Manager, Americas, UPM Raflatac

To push towards a more circular economy, we need cooperation and common targets, but above all else, we need solutions.

Brand owners are aiming for more and more recyclability, especially when it comes to plastic packaging. To guide them in this mission, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has defined three steps for a new plastics economy: design for recyclability, use recycled material and clearly communicate how to properly recycle. 

As over 80% of the environmental impacts of packaging are determined in the product design stage, companies are wise to pay attention to designing for recyclability.

Reaching a circular economy, solution by solution

When brand owners want to advance the circular economy, they need solutions that optimize the recyclability of packaging. For example, if we have a PET bottle that is recycled into new material, the labels and their adhesives can cause browning, yield loss or quality problems during recycled PET flakes production.

However, wash-off adhesives for PET packages can be easily separated during the caustic washing process. This simple choice of adhesive enables the recovery of clean, high-value PET flakes. These wash-off solutions can reduce contamination and allow brand owners to design for recyclability. The right design approach can further enhance the quality of recycled flake, which in turn can be used as recycled content in new packaging materials. 

The green consumer chooses recycled content

If we want the circular economy to become a reality, we should give new life to recycled materials, instead of using virgin sources.

The benefits of implementing post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics in production are numerous. In addition to not consuming virgin fossil-based materials, it also brings CO2 and energy savings. Furthermore, there is also a clear consumer demand for it. The growing green consumer segment will choose more sustainable products and packaging.

Many brands have targets to increase recycled content in their packaging. The labels are often overlooked, as they typically account for the smallest proportion of the package by weight and rarely contain any recycled content. With the growing demand for recycled content, we at UPM Raflatac strive to be a solution provider and have thus launched a groundbreaking innovation – 90% PCR PET labels. This is, in a sense, the last remaining piece of the puzzle – the missing link in sustainable packaging.

When a brand utilizes recycled content in its packaging, it is always a win-win situation – for the environment and the business. This is why we at UPM Raflatac have made increasing recycled content one of our main steps towards a more circular economy, as we believe this should be one of the leading solutions in this pursuit.

How is your organization increasing the use of recycled content in your products?

Read more:

Recycling and recycled content
Circular economy in the label industry



Tyler Matusevich

Tyler Matusevich

Sustainability Manager, Americas, UPM Raflatac | “What lies beyond the unknown is our next greatest adventure”