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What are the Benefits of Using PET for Sustainable Labelling?

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Sustainable packaging and reduction of waste have never been more of a priority for all businesses. Everybody wants a solution that can boost their brand’s eco-credentials. It is possible to make major gains both ethically and financially when you get things right for your brand. Consumers are increasingly paying more close attention to the packaging of their products and research shows that people are now more likely to purchase from an ethical supplier.  Labels are a highly visible part of any packaging, so they can play a key role for you in increasing your brands ecologically friendly image.

Is it difficult to recycle labels?

Recycling labels has always been tricky because of the different elements and stages of the labelling process. It’s particularly challenging when we’re hoping to create useful by-products and close the loop entirely. The very word ‘recyclable’ is sometimes misleading because some products that bear that name will still end up in landfill, as things stand at the moment. A viable end-to-end recycling solution needs to look at the real-world performance of every component of a package. This means thinking about how the materials are sourced, how much is used and the end-of-life destination of the packaging. The ultimate goal for all of us should, of course, be zero waste.

What are the best label materials for sustainability?

A standard self-adhesive label that is already attached to a product is made up of a facestock and an adhesive. Before it is dispensed, it is also held on a release liner. When considering sustainability, we often start with the facestock, as it is the most visible element for customers. Certification can be useful here, showing that the materials are from renewable resources. Materials can also be shown to contain recycled material, as well as being recyclable themselves.

But the adhesive matters too. It makes an impact both during the manufacture of the label and when it enters the recycling stream.  Release liners often make up 35% of the laminate, so improvements in this area will have a strong impact on sustainability. Historically, liners have posed a tough recycling challenge; especially the silicone-coated ‘glassine’ materials. Noteworthy improvements have been made with glassine recycling and one of the most important developments, for both sustainability and productivity, is that a lot of label liners are now made from PET.

How do PET Release Liners benefit the environment?

The main reason that PET liners are better for the environment than their glassine predecessors is that they are thinner. Using 30 µm PET liner, or the 23 µm version, reduces the amount of material that is needed. Pressure-sensitive laminates can then also be made thinner, which means you can fit more labels on a roll of equal size, which leads to fewer trucks on the road. More meters of labels on a long roll also means longer production runs, so there is less start up and changeover waste.

PET has even more benefits when thinking about recycling. If care is taken to remove the silicone and keep the PET separate from other plastics, then the liners can be recycled into useful products like thermoformable sheets, for making trays, fibre or strapping.

Talk to us at RGS Labels today to find out more about our PET Liner Solutions and all the ways that we, as a company, are committed to a more sustainable future.