Eastman Chemical Forms Group to Study Plastic Wraps

Goal of the consortium is to address the PET plastic recycle stream issues.

January 22, 2013
Recycling Today Staff
Conferences & Events Plastics

Eastman Chemical Co., Kingsport, Tenn., has organized a consortium to identify solutions to issues surrounding PET bottles and full-wrap labels in the recycling stream. The group includes members from more than 30 companies across the value chain, and is charged with researching the issues to better understand the problems and developing near-term and long-term solutions to benefit all involved parties.

According to Eastman Chemical, about 80 percent of full-wrap labels in North America are found on PET containers. As these labels grow in popularity, many PET bottles also have been down-gauged. The combination of these two elements has exacerbated the challenge recyclers face in processing these containers.

“There’s been a lot of discussion in the marketplace about the recycling of containers with full-wrap labels, and we thought it was time a group formed to collaboratively discuss the challenges and work toward holistic, win-win solutions for everyone, including those companies that process and recycle containers,” says Holli Whitt, market development manager, sustainability for specialty plastics, Eastman Chemical Co. “Full-wrap labels are becoming more popular with brand owners because they offer increased shelf appeal that can impact consumer purchasing decisions and brand loyalty. We want to find solutions that will allow brand owners to continue using these labels to secure brand recognition, shelf appeal and market share while mitigating the challenges recyclers are experiencing.”

According to a release, consortium members conclude there likely will need to be a combination of solutions to address the issues. Currently, those solutions include floatable labels, label perforation to aid in removing labels at reclaimers’ facilities, delabeling equipment availability at reclaimers’ facilities and consumers removing the label from the end product prior to reclamation.

Members of the consortium include representatives from consumer goods manufacturers, resin producers, film extruders, print converters and label producers, equipment manufacturers, bottlers and packagers, plastics recyclers and independent testing firms.

“We are working on the right combination of solutions to get the highest impact that makes the most economic sense,” Whitt says. “At the upcoming February meeting, consortium members will close some of the knowledge gaps that currently exist and continue to assess potential solutions and how the solutions might work together best.”