The right label choices lead to better recyclability
When it comes to sustainable packaging, labels matter. One might assume that self-adhesive labels are just a small part of the packaging, but how a package is labeled can really make or break its sustainability.
Firstly, you want to ensure that the label is suitable for sorting the different packaging materials for the right recycling streams. A label shouldn’t, for example, fully cover a bottle so that recycling machines can still recognize the plastic material of the container.
Secondly, a label should be compatible with the plastic package or be removable from it in order to enhance the recycling process and to provide higher quality recyclates.
The top 3 tips to increase your packaging’s sustainability
1. Label materials: Choose renewables or recycled content instead of virgin fossil raw materials
Choosing a labeling solution that utilizes renewable or recycled raw materials is the most important step you should take to increase sustainability and to reduce the carbon footprint of your packaging. One way to do that is to swap fossil-based plastics to e.g. wood-based ones, such as UPM Raflatac Forest Film™, which is a polypropylene film made of UPM BioVerno tall oil, or to recycled content ones, like UPM Raflatac polypropylene PCR films.
We recently responded to the need for renewable packaging materials by bringing a wood-based polypropylene film material into the market. Forest Film works particularly well with recyclable plastic packaging as it can be recycled as a part of a package like any polypropylene film material.
I’m very proud to say that with Forest Film, UPM Raflatac has introduced a wonderful replacement for fossil-based films. This enables the use of renewable raw materials on a much larger scale than ever before.
2. Adhesives: Use wash-offs and removables
Paying attention to the choice of adhesive is the next step on a road to advance the recyclability of your plastic packaging. The easier the label is to remove, the easier it is to recycle the package.
UPM Raflatac Wash-off RW85C, for example, is an innovative wash-off label adhesive which makes it possible to wash off the label in the PET recycling process. A clean PET flake can then be recycled and reused in manufacturing new PET plastics.
3. Eco-design: Sustainability starts with the design
How packages are designed greatly affect their sustainability and circularity. It’s important that we help designers look at their packages from a truly holistic point of view: a sustainable package is an ecosystem of elements – all the way from the cap or seal to the label of a package. It is up to sustainable design how efficiently a package can be recycled in the standard plastic recycling stream.
For more about the benefits of eco-design, visit UPM Raflatac’s rewarding sustainable design choices on our website.
Being able offer advanced sustainable labels and helping you succeed is a priority for us. The world needs strong collaboration and I believe that by sharing our best practices and know-how we can label a smarter future beyond fossils.