First PE film label manufactured entirely from recycled materialJune 13, 2019
This new PE label, manufactured exclusively from recycled polyethylene, is thought to be the first of its kind worldwide. It was jointly developed to market readiness in Germany by the printer schäfer-etiketten and the self-adhesive materials specialist HERMA, with the aid of the PE film experts of POLIFILM. It made its public debut in Munich at the CosmeticBusiness fair, which run from 5 to 6 June. Half of the “raw material” for the label stock originates from industrial waste, and the other half from the single-use PE commonly discarded by households, typically in the form of plastic bottles and packaging remains. “This novel label material prints very well no matter what the technique, from flexo and offset to screen and digital printing,” reports Volker Hurth, who oversees the cosmetic industry business of schäfer-etiketten. “Customers who have seen the samples have given the material an enthusiastic reception, and actual projects and orders are already being processed.” HERMA is likewise delighted with the outcome. Dr. Ulli Nägele, HERMA’s head of development, comments, “The material responds well to coating, and the conventional roll sizes can be fabricated without any constraints.”
Focusing more on material cycles
The novel PE label material produced from recycled waste is white, but on closer inspection so-called gels are visible as well. “These are tiny specks that arise during the recycling process and cannot be entirely avoided,” explains Volker Hurth of schäfer-etiketten. “On the other hand, they give the label material an authentic character and signal to end-users that it has genuinely been produced from recycled waste. The new label is therefore ideal for brands and manufacturers who, as a general rule, want their packaging materials to reflect a commitment to sustainability.”
For HERMA, the new self-adhesive material further underscores its approach to optimising the environmental footprint of packaging. “We ought not to demonise plastics in view of the tremendous progress they have delivered on many fronts,” says Dr. Nägele. “But it’s important that we continue to challenge the throw-away mentality and focus more on actively initiating or fostering material cycles. We would be very pleased if this new self-adhesive material, based on recycled PE film, could make a small contribution towards this end.” In a related project, HERMA recently demonstrated how multi-layer adhesives developed in-house can help to improve wash-off outcomes. In order to facilitate the recovery of pellets that are as pure as possible, the aim is to remove the label materials and adhesive from plastic packaging without either leaving any residues or adversely affecting the labels’ adhesive properties. “The higher the pellet purity, the more likely it is that plastic packaging can actually be recycled,” comments Dr. Nägele.
Linerless label system launching soon
In the autumn, HERMA will be making a further constructive contribution to the sustainability debate when it presents a linerless label system at the Fachpack and LabelExpo fairs. It is envisaged as an alternative to the millions of shipping labels that are consumed every day worldwide. The new solution would completely eliminate the need for logistics and distribution centres to dispose of vast quantities of unusable release liner – the waste would simply not arise in the first place.