Sun Chemical, Parsippany, New Jersey, has launched its SunLam deseaming adhesive for shrink-labeled containers. This new deseamable adhesive is designed to help recyclers improve recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) yield without process changes.
Developed in a partnership between Sun Chemical and Eastman, an additives company based in Kingsport, Tennessee, SunLam has been tested on labels made with Eastman Embrace LV copolyester. It has received a responsible innovation acknowledgment by the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), Washington, after passing stringent testing outlined by the APR.
By changing from a traditional solvent to SunLam deseaming adhesive, shrink labels can deseam and release during the whole bottle wash step of the wet recycling process without sacrifice of label performance. The label removal occurs prior to color, infrared and manual sorting, thus preventing shrink-labeled PET bottles being removed from the stream due to misidentification.
The tests using Eastman’s copolyester used whole bottle wash equipment at commercial recycling facilities and yielded results of greater than 95 percent label removal, Sun Chemical says.
"When the challenge of removing shrink labels during PET recycling was brought to the industry's attention by the APR and the National Association for PET Container Resources in 2012, Eastman stepped up to the challenge and organized a consortium to collaborate on ways to solve this issue," Ronnie Little, market development manager for Eastman, says. "PET bottle bales typically contain five percent shrink-labeled PET bottles. Many of those labels do not come off in the PET recycling process, reducing recycle PET yield. We're pleased to have partnered with Sun Chemical in this process to develop a technology that satisfies the consumers' desire to recycle, a brand's goal to be both responsible and recognizable, and the APR's mission to eliminate barriers to successful commercial recycling."
By using SunLam, brand owners can continue to use full-body shrink labels on their containers. An additional 20 percent of label surface area is regained with full-body shrink labels, compared to the portion of the bottle that must be left uncovered to avoid near-infrared or color missorting, as bottles with full wrap shrink sleeves could get rejected by the near infrared (NIR) or color automated sorting equipment, the company says.
"Consumers and brand owners alike expect PET bottles to be recycled, but unfortunately, far too many end up in landfills because the label wouldn't come off," Russell Schwartz, chief technology officer at Sun Chemical, says. "At Sun Chemical, we consider it our responsibility to address issues in the industries in which we participate and to provide leadership in resolving problems our partners and customers face. On learning of these concerns, we initiated a major project to solve this industry-wide challenge. We are pleased to introduce the environmentally friendly SunLam deseaming adhesive as part of our contribution to the circular economy."