Celebrating 10 years of AD CleanFlake™ in Europe

Celebrating 10 years of AD CleanFlake™ in Europe

Plastic waste is a massive problem worldwide, and maximizing the amount of plastic that can be recycled is a key part of tackling the issue. As an innovation and sustainability leader in the field of packaging, we offer a variety of solutions that enable the recycling of plastic packaging and help create a circular economy. Among these, one of our most celebrated product lines is AD CleanFlake™.

AD CleanFlake is a label material designed for use with rigid plastic packaging for food, beverages, home and personal care, and more. It enables the recycling of PET and HDPE packaging without compromising on performance and helps brands meet sustainability targets, comply with regulations, and advance circularity by increasing the availability of recycled plastic. 

Ever since it was launched, AD CleanFlake has been changing the world of plastic packaging recycling as we know it. To celebrate its 10-year anniversary in Europe, as well as the launch of its latest version, we’ll take a look back at how it has evolved over the years to meet increasingly rigorous recycling protocols and brand performance requirements.

Groundbreaking from the start

CleanFlake debuted in Europe in 2013, with the aim of enabling PET beverage bottle recycling at a time when it was becoming clear that PET usage would increase dramatically in the coming years. CleanFlake enabled recycling through the sink/float principle: the adhesive would stick firmly during use and de-bond when submerged in a recycling bath, allowing label materials to cleanly separate from PET flakes and float to the surface.

The technology was recognized as groundbreaking and won several awards, including:

  • Sustainability Award at Labelexpo Europe 2013 in Brussels 

  • Koreastar, Asiastar, and Worldstar packaging awards in 2012 and 2013 

  • Flexographic Technical Association Environmental Excellence Award for Innovations in Sustainability in 2014

As CleanFlake was initially specifically designed for PET beverage bottles in the USA, the needs of other segments and regional requirements were not taken into account. For example, it was only available in clear, with no white options available, and it did not have any specific European food approval. 


Celebrating 10 years of AD CleanFlake™ in Europe

CleanFlake debuted in 2013

Evolving to meet changing needs

To achieve broader applicability and meet changing market needs, CleanFlake has had to keep evolving. 

Our initial aim was to develop one global adhesive. However, after we launched it in Europe it quickly became clear that the European market had different needs than the US. For example, sectors beyond beverages were interested in using it, creating the need for various colors and thicknesses. It also needed to be adapted to European recycling processes, with wash off at lower temperature and with fewer additives. In 2016, we launched an upgraded CleanFlake adhesive (SR3011) for the EMENA market, which was available for white and clear film labels at 60 and 50 micron thickness.

Since 2016, CleanFlake has evolved along with market needs and the recycling environment. The use of PET packaging was surging beyond beverage and more segments were interested in solutions that enable recycling and are recognized by EPBP and RecyClass. To meet the demands of food and home and personal care brands, CleanFlake needed even better food approval and adhesion performance. Furthermore, recycling guidelines kept getting refined, meaning face material density, ink, and package coverage all had to be taken into account to determine the final recyclability of the label and package.


Celebrating 10 years of AD CleanFlake™ in Europe


To answer the evolving requirements, a further upgraded CleanFlake adhesive (SR3011N) was introduced in 2021. It was suitable for a wider range of PET packaging and delivered improved performance for all fast moving consumer goods (FMCG). Besides beverage bottles, CleanFlake could now be used with clamshells, trays, and jars for food (including fatty foods) and home and personal care products. 

SR3011N also delivered improved recyclability, including recognition by Cyclos and a design that meets EU PET recycling guidelines. As with previous versions, during PET recycling SR3011N would deactivate to allow label materials to separate cleanly from the product, but now at temperatures as low as 70°C for trays and 80°C for bottles. To further support converters with advancing recyclability, we created a guide to help customers design labels that enable recycling (see the latest version here).


Celebrating 10 years of AD CleanFlake™ in Europe

During PET recycling AD CleanFlake adhesive deactivates, allowing label materials to separate cleanly from the product


The growing interest and improved performance made it clear that CleanFlake had potential to move beyond the PET segment into the full range of FMCG applications covered by Avery Dennison’s standard adhesives.

10 years later, still changing the game

With the launch of our latest version of CleanFlake (S7000ER) in 2022, we’ve broken new ground once again. It builds on our foundation of CleanFlake products and standard adhesives, and combines recyclability for even more kinds of packaging with superior performance and global availability. 

S7000ER is compatible with HDPE recycling, making us the first manufacturer to enable rigid plastic recycling across our film label portfolio. Whereas with PET recycling a CleanFlake label separates cleanly from the package, during colored HDPE recycling, the label stays attached to the product, but because it is a monomaterial it does not compromise the recyclability of the resulting plastic pellets.


Celebrating 10 years of AD CleanFlake™ in Europe

During coloured HDPE recycling, the label stays attached, but does not compromise the recyclability


S7000ER offers our best performance yet, including outstanding adhesion, clarity, and conversion and best-in-class print quality without bleeding or water whitening. Besides Cyclos, it is recognized by EPBP, RecyClass, and APR and follows the guidelines for PET tray recycling. Answering the call from customers for one label solution for all FMCG packages, it can be applied on PET, HDPE, PP, glass, or metal, and is available with an even broader array of films and liners as a standard offering. With the addition of our new AD CleanFlake Sleeves, CleanFlake can now cover even the most complex shapes.

By enabling customers to stock a single solution that meets all of their film label needs, CleanFlake helps them simplify their operations, fulfill orders faster, and reduce costs. It also helps brands reduce their CO2 footprint (including end-of-life) by enabling recycling of packages and thus helping avoid incineration: for every kg of PET packaging that gets recycled, brands save 1.4 kg of CO2, and for every kg of HDPE they save up to 1.9 kg of CO2. 

CleanFlake also helps increase the availability of recycled plastic, which has a lower carbon footprint than virgin plastic. For example, rPET has up to 60% lower carbon footprint than virgin PET (about 25% less CO2 emitted for a standard beverage bottle) while rHDPE has up to 70% lower carbon footprint than virgin HDPE (about 50% less CO2 emitted for a standard home and personal care bottle).

A cutting-edge solution, today and tomorrow 

In the decade since it launched, CleanFlake has improved significantly and its application range has expanded considerably. It will continue to evolve, according to Avery Dennison’s strategic vision, but also in response to external forces like the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWR) and market trends. Our aim is to offer a cutting-edge yet cost competitive solution that helps brands comply with regulations, close the loop on their packaging, and make progress on their sustainability goals.

Learn more

To learn more, visit the AD CleanFlake page or contact Mariya Nedelcheva, Marketing Manager Films.