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Environmentally-friendly packaging efforts have been steadily gaining traction over the past decade. Plastic alternatives and recycled materials have become more prevalent to wrap consumer goods, including food and beverages. While these efforts are commendable, many do not solve the problem that labels pose in the recycling process.
For glass and plastic, product labels can be detrimental to their ability to be reclaimed. Think about beer and soda bottles, the adhered label can be difficult to remove if you wish to recycle the glass or plastic separately. One idea is now being tested in Europe as a possible remedy to this problem.
As Labels & Labeling reports, some glass bottles are being fitted with a new sticker that can be washed off before or during the recycling process. The new label is made from a special application of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), which to put simply, will dissolve and sink when immersed in water.
PET is a common packaging material, as Placon, a packaging manufacturer who designs and sells the matter, explains. PET is, at its core, plastic. Whether is be pure or recycled, it can be used to encase everything from water and soda bottles to food and cosmetics. Though it can be recycled itself, it gets in the way when it is used on other materials like glass.
This new label solution hopes to increase the availability of recycled raw material while reducing the need for virgin plastic.
The best part about this new wash-off label is that it is still durable for consumers and manufacturers to utilize. The version that Labels & Labeling discusses is exclusively for glass bottles, and is moisture-resistant enough to use. Condensation with drinks is inevitable, so having a new label that can handle it and has a sustainable appeal is likely to gain popularity.
Even though it’s hardy, during the standard industrial washing process that occurs during recycling, the new PET label is easily removed. Ideally, the bottle can be reused after cleaning with no additional means to repurpose it.
For now, this new wash-off label is only being produced and tested in Europe, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see this trend make its way to North America. Consumers are becoming more familiar with the intricacies of recycling, and are sometimes discouraged to discover that some materials hinder the process. This new label can appeal to shoppers wanting to make a conscientious choice and businesses wanting to boost their brand as eco-friendly.