Sustainability Series: How to Create Recyclable Packaging

Sustainability is something we take seriously, and we know you do too. Whether you’re new to sustainable packaging solutions or have been committed to sustainable practices for years, the experts at Inovar Packaging Group will help you find the right option for your brand and application. In this series, we are going to discuss three of the ways we can help you make more sustainable label and packaging choices. Today’s topic is about how to make recyclable packaging, and in the coming weeks, we will also discuss how to use recycled materials and reduce your packaging.

How to Select Recyclable Packaging

While the recycling stream can seem opaque, our membership in the Association of Plastic Recyclers provides us with the latest information on how to select the right recyclable packaging for your sustainability goals and requirements. Once we’ve talked about your primary packaging container, we can then guide you to the right pressure-sensitive label material, ink, and adhesion to ensure your product can be recycled. Here is a breakdown of some of the most common container materials and what label materials you should use to make your packaging recyclable.

1. PET Containers with Pressure-Sensitive Labels

During recycling, pressure-sensitive labels (think of a traditional sticky label) and the ink separate from the bottle and float. We recommend using BOPP material with hot caustic inks and wash-off adhesives for recyclable packaging. Paper, PVC, or PLA materials are not recommended with PET containers.

It’s important to keep in mind that if your container is 550 mL or less, the label cannot exceed 55% of the surface area. If your container is larger than 550 mL, the label cannot exceed over 75% of the surface area.

2. Glass and Aluminum Containers with Pressure-Sensitive Labels

In North America, for glass and aluminum containers, the label or decoration remains on the container and is melted down to be recycled. There is a good amount of freedom in label material selection for glass and aluminum primary recyclable packaging because the labels will be removed during the crushing process and/or burned off during the melting process.

BOPP or other film labels, paper, and decorative options can all be used on aluminum and glass containers. If you want to have more of a positive impact on the environment, we’d recommend combining your glass or aluminum container with a PCW recycled label material.

3. HDPE Multi-Colored Containers with Pressure-Sensitive Labels

With recyclable packaging such as multi-colored bottles, including white ones, the label stays with the bottle during the process. The containers, along with their labels, are cleaned, shredded, and used to form new items. We recommend using any BOPP, PE film, or Polyolefin with acrylic emulsion adhesive and hot caustic inks. PVC and paper label materials are not recommended as they become pulp during the recycling process.

4. PET and HDPE Containers with Shrink Sleeves

In most cases, the shrink sleeves can stay on PET and HDPE bottles, and the inks wash away. The containers, along with their sleeves, are cleaned, shredded, and used to create new items. We recommend using water-soluble inks on shrink sleeves for recyclable packaging. A zipper perforation is another option to safeguard the recycling stream and allow the sleeve to be fully removed from the container prior to recycling.

Our Commitment to Recyclable Packaging

Inovar Packaging Group has a true commitment to sustainability, as evidenced by our membership in the Association of Plastic Recyclers, bi-weekly sustainability meetings with our leadership team, and concerted efforts to guide our customers to sustainable choices. Be sure to check back next week to learn about the recycled label materials we offer.

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