Paper and cardboard
Does a paper label affect the recycling process?
Recycling a cardboard package begins with collecting and sorting different quantities of cardboard and sending them to mills that can handle products of a specified grade. Next, the mills turn the items into pulp and screen out contaminants like staples and plastic; those that cannot be removed are further diluted. The label will remain and be combined with the other recycled paper products to create a substance that’s ready for use.
Where does the post-consumer recycled waste used to create rMC and rDT labels come from?
The PCR (post-consumer recycled) waste used to make rMC and rDT labels is selected from different streams, including office and printer waste, as well as waste leftover from glassine liners. Before it can be recycled, PCR waste must undergo deinking, a process for removing ink from the fibers of recycled paper to create ink-free pulp.
What does it mean for a paper label to be without fiber loss?
If a paper is without fiber loss, it won’t release contaminating fibers when it dissolves during the recycling process. For example, when wet strength paper is combined with the right adhesive, it will remove cleanly, without any fiber loss.
Are Avery Dennison labels compostable?
Avery Dennison offers OK Compost certified products that return safely to the Earth for use as soil-conditioning material or mulch. Our S9500 adhesive is compostable as well, and can be combined with paper or filmic facestocks for which composting is required.
Also, OK Compost certified products are best suited to industrial composting, which uses specific conditions – including certain humidity and temperature levels – to help them break down.
Compostable goods are usually made with plant-based materials and must pass rigorous third-party testing for disintegration, biodegradation and non-toxicity, as described in the EN 13432:2000 standard.
Does Avery Dennison have labels suitable for home composting?
Presently, we only have OK Compost certified label constructions suitable for industrial composting and do not offer anything for home composting.
Are Avery Dennison labels biodegradable?
Biodegradable packaging completely breaks down and returns to nature within a reasonably short period of time (typically a year or less) after customary disposal, meaning no special treatment is required.
For labels and packaging, there is no official biodegradability standard. However, products that are certified for compostability have undergone testing for biodegradability according to ISO 14855-1:2012. Therefore, it’s safe to say that products certified for compostability are also biodegradable.
When describing something as biodegradable, it’s important to avoid green washing, in which products are made to sound more eco-friendly than they actually are. This can be achieved by clearly stating the standard used to make the claim, as well as the setting and timeframe required for the product to biodegrade.
Does Avery Dennison offer paper labels that can be easily washed off of different packaging surfaces?
Avery Dennison’s WX6030 and WW2031 paper wash-off labels are easily removed in water heated to a minimum temperature of 21°C, though 60°C is optimal. No additives are required, reducing chemical waste in reuse and recycling programs for HDPE crates, beer kegs and other types of packaging. The adhesives used with these labels are also safe for direct contact with dry, non-fatty foods and do not compromise product quality when removed.
What are crate pooling companies and what kind of paper labels should they use?
Crate pooling companies distribute reusable trays to businesses and then collect them to be checked, sorted, washed and repaired before sending them out again. These trays are used in many places, including grocery stores, orchards and food packing operations. We suggest using WX6030 paper wash-off labels for these trays, as they are approved by several pooling companies.
What are the processes for collecting, sorting and recycling different types of plastics, like PP, PET and PE?
Mechanical recycling begins with collecting and sorting PP, PET and PE plastics by type. This process was previously done by hand, but now uses an infrared light system that distinguishes one kind of plastic from another. Next, the plastic is washed to remove contaminants, including grease and food, and anything that is not made of plastic. If these substances remain, they can compromise the quality of the final product, so eliminating them is very important.
Afterwards, the plastic is shredded or turned into pellets before undergoing extrusion, a process in which it is melted and filtered to eliminate any remaining contaminants. Finally, it’s ready to be made into new products.
Avery Dennison’s CleanFlake™ labels are designed to accommodate this process. Once exposed to hot water, they separate cleanly from PET bottles, leaving only residue-free plastic that’s ready for the next steps on its journey to a second life.
For more information, explore this helpful infographic from Plastics Recyclers Europe.
What's the difference between mechanical and chemical recycling?
In mechanical recycling, plastic waste is turned into new raw materials or products without significantly changing the chemical structure of the original substance.
Chemical recycling, which is also known as feedstock recycling, requires changing the structure of plastic waste by converting it into shorter molecules that can be used for new chemical reactions. The resulting product can be used for various applications and is food safe.
In principle, all types of thermoplastics (plastics made from polymers that are molten when heated and hard when cooled that can withstand being melted and recast repeatedly) can be mechanically recycled with little or no damage to quality. Currently, this is the most common form of recycling in Europe.
How many times can plastic be recycled?
The number of times plastic can be mechanically recycled depends on what type it is. Many plastics can be recycled multiple times, but due to contamination, material degradation and other issues, most kinds go through the process two or three times.
What other plastic products and materials are recyclable?
To learn about the recyclability of plastic products and materials, please explore RecyClass and Plastic Recyclers Europe. Also, please review websites focused on your country and local area (like Recycling Nederland) for more detailed information.
The role of a label in packaging
What is the difference between "recyclable" and "enabling recycling"?
A recyclable label can be recycled along with the container it is affixed to during a standard recycling process in a region where the material (like PET or HDPE) is commercially available. If the label enables recycling, that means it helps increase the recyclability of the container.
For example, CleanFlake™ labels enable recycling because they can be removed in a way that ensures the container is recycled cleanly. Other products that enable recycling remove or simplify a step in the recycling process, like washing or sorting, with the ultimate goal of significantly improving the quality of the recycled output.
What is the compatibility of labels on different types of packaging in the recycling stream, such as PP, PE, PET and glass?
A label’s compatibility with different types of packaging depends on various factors. Some labels are highly compatible in the sense that they enable recycling since they can be removed from a container easily and cleanly through a conventional recycling process. Other labels can be recycled along with a container. Some are highly incompatible with certain packaging types and can actually prevent recycling or damage the recyclate, making it unusable.
Is label-free packaging a better option for recycling?
Some kinds of label-free packaging are easy to recycle, or possibly easier than packaging made with certain types of labels. However, many label solutions don’t get in the way of recycling and can often be recycled along with the package.
For example, removable labels can be cleanly taken off by consumers, leaving a product ready to be used or begin the recycling process. In the standard HDPE recycling process, certain types of filmic labels can even remain attached to products, since they don’t hinder the completion of the process or damage the other items being recycled.
Labels also have many benefits. For instance, reclosure labels can be used to reseal a package and keep its contents fresh. Intelligent labels can provide vital information about things like medication expiration dates, while beautiful labels add instant shelf appeal.
Changing labels quickly is simple, so updating an ingredients list or product description won’t cause costly problems. Applying labels takes significantly less time than printing directly on packaging and the result is often easier to read.
When it comes to labels, what design and printing factors should be considered to optimize recyclability?
There are various factors to consider when it comes to labels and optimizing recyclability. To start, we recommend incorporating EcoDesign principles into your labels and packaging. Taking this approach requires careful consideration of the environmental impact of products throughout their entire lifecycle, from conception to design, and includes how they will be used and treated once discarded.
For additional information, visit the RecyClass website.
What about the recyclability of packaging with intelligent smart labels?
Avery Dennison has led and participated in studies focused on the recyclability of RFID inlays. We’ve found that due to the small size of RFID tags, it is likely that they won’t be recycled through typical programs, though ongoing research strongly suggests that the situation will improve.
However, RFID tags can enable recycling by improving recovery and sortation rates, and often, the matrices can be recycled as well. Preventing and reducing waste is also easier with RFID technology. For example, grocery stores can use RFID tags to monitor inventory and avoid overstocking. The tags are also good for tracking expiration dates, making it easier to determine if food should be discounted or donated to ensure it is consumed before spoiling.
When a label is removed from a bottle, can they both be recycled?
This depends on what the label and bottle are made from. For example, with our CleanFlake™ solution, the label separates cleanly from PET bottles during recycling, leaving nothing behind. The resulting flakes can be turned into new, food-grade PET and the bottles can be fully recycled without any contamination issues.
Are machine direction labels, like Global MDO labels, compatible with HDPE and PP packaging for recycling?
Yes. According to RecyClass, polyolefin labels can be used on HDPE and PP packaging without compromising recyclability.
Does Avery Dennison have any extra tips for making labels more recyclable?
There are many things you can do to make labels more sustainable and recyclable. For example, avoid using labels with metalized details, which are difficult to recycle. Limit the size of labels to conserve resources and increase the likelihood that plastic is sorted into the right recycling streams. When possible, choose compostable options that break down in the soil, and use less ink when printing labels. Want to learn more? Visit our sustainable labels page.
The role of a label’s adhesive
How does CleanFlake™ work in PET recycling?
During the hot caustic bath that’s part of the PET recycling process, CleanFlake™ labels separate cleanly from packaging and float to the surface in the form of flakes that can be turned into food-grade PET. For more information about CleanFlake™, please visit this page.
What happens with a label’s adhesive during the washing part of the recycling process?
Different adhesives behave differently during the washing step of the recycling process. The type of plastic or paper they are being used with also has an impact, as do the guidelines of different organizations focused on recycling.
How does the adhesive used in removable labels support recycling?
Removable labels are designed for short-term product identification purposes. They can be removed cleanly by hand from the item they are applied to before it enters the end-of-life phase, leaving no adhesive behind. When done correctly, this supports the material separation process, simplifies the job of recyclers and makes the recycling stream cleaner.
What is an LCA and do we have one for our products?
Also known as a life cycle assessment, a LCA is used to determine a product’s environmental impact. By clarifying the environmental consequences of the labels and packages you use, a LCA can help keep your footprint as small as possible.
What is a carbon footprint and does Avery Dennison have one for its products?
A product’s carbon footprint quantifies the total amount of CO2 it will contribute to the atmosphere over its lifetime, starting at the raw materials stage through to the end of its life. Avery Dennison is working to create carbon footprints for all of our products to help customers fully understand their impact on the environment.
How are glass bottles recycled?
Recycling glass bottles begins with crushing them and removing contaminants; they might also be sorted by color at the beginning of the process. Next, the crushed glass is mixed with new raw materials to add color or otherwise enhance its quality. Finally, it’s melted down in a furnace and turned into new bottles and jars.
To learn more, visit Recycle Now.
How does liner recycling work?
Different recycling methods are required for different types of liners. To learn more, please read our white paper on sustainability and liners. Additionally, Avery Dennison supports the recycling of paper and filmic liners through the AD Circular program. Members collect their used liner materials and arrange to have them picked up through a simple web application. Learn about the program and find out how to participate here.
Can matrix waste be recycled?
Some matrix waste collected for recycling is incinerated to generate energy, but there is a growing interest in finding alternative uses for this material; there have already been some successes with film-based matrices. Avery Dennison is currently working with industry players and recyclers to establish sustainable recycling options for matrix waste.