From personal care products and cosmetics, to food and detergents, it seems like plastic film has been the go-to material for labels almost since polypropylene (PP) was first developed in Italy back in the middle of the last century.
For decades, brand owners and consumers have trusted PP to be durable, water and heat-resistant, versatile and non-toxic — it does not tear or even smell. So, what’s not to like?
Well, it’s plastic. With a production process that consumes fossil fuel, energy, and water, plus typically gets downcycled not truly recycled, at end-of-life, plastic is seen in sustainability circles as part of the problem with packaging, no longer part of the solution.
Moreover, with the general public waking up to the issue, too, PP in particular is the kind of plastic with a reputation for being difficult to recycle.
In a survey of Amazon customers conducted for Oceana last year, 94% of UK respondents said they were concerned about plastic pollution, 89% said they wanted a plastic-free choice at checkout and more than half (52%) would be prepared to shop elsewhere to get it.
So, whilst retailers might still love the proven performance characteristics, market opinion has changed, moving irrevocably away from plastic in general, explains Mariya Nedelcheva, Product Manager Film Labels, at Avery Dennison: