Sun Chemical has launched its SunLam™ De-seaming Adhesive for shrink-labeled containers. This new de-seamable adhesive helps recyclers improve recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) yield without process changes.
Developed in partnership, Sun Chemical and Eastman extensively tested SunLam on labels made with Eastman Embrace™ LV copolyester. It has received a “Responsible Innovation Acknowledgment” by the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) after passing stringent testing outlined by the APR.
By changing from a traditional solvent to SunLam De-seaming Adhesive, shrink labels 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 rPET stream due to misidentification.
The efficacy of SunLam De-seaming Adhesive was tested on bottles with shrink sleeves made from Eastman Embrace™ LV copolyester. The tests utilized whole bottle wash equipment at commercial recycling facilities and yielded results of greater than 95 percent label removal, with results typically exceeding 99 percent.
“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,” said Ronnie Little, Market Development Manager, Eastman. “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 rPET 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.”
“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,” said Russell Schwartz, Chief Technology Officer, Sun Chemical. “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 De-seaming Adhesive as part of our contribution to the circular economy.”
By using SunLam De-seaming Adhesive, brand owners can continue to benefit from the superior performance of Eastman Embrace LV copolyester. They need not sacrifice full body shrink sleeve label coverage, shrinkage or quality. 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 NIR or color automated sorting equipment.