Guidelines recycling-friendly label, sustainability goal, climate change, Volume 6, Issue 4

Guidelines recycling-friendly label, sustainability goal, climate change

Volume 6, Issue 4

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Guidelines help identify recycling-friendly shrink labels

Although increasingly popular with brand owners and consumers, shrink labels cause headaches for recyclers and users of recycled-content polyethylene terephthalate (rPET). “The vast majority of PET reclaimers report that the labels are a serious problem for recycling,” explains Steve Alexander, president of the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR), Washington, D.C., a trade association of companies that recycle postconsumer plastics in North America. In fact, shrink label contamination can render rPET unsuitable for production of new containers.

To help brand owners and label converters overcome this problem, APR has developed a Sleeve Label Substrate for PET Bottles Critical Guidance Document. It’s based on extensive testing of label substrates by Plastic Forming Enterprises, Amherst, N.H. Ideally it will eliminate the need for PET reclaimers to handle shrink-labeled bottles separately or export lower value bales.

Although free of adhesive and generally applied to unpigmented bottles, shrink labels complicate identification of the bottle resin and are difficult to remove and separate in current washing systems. Dave Cornell, technical director of APR, explains: “The problem starts at the local municipal sorting center, the MRF. The automatic sorting machines often cannot see through the labels to correctly identify the PET resin. This means a loss of revenue to the local collection system and loss of raw material to the reclaiming community.”

The label testing protocol described in the Guidance Document quantifies how well the recycling process removes the labels from bottles and what impact label residue has on the recycled material. “Label density is the one characteristic that testing shows can lead to removing label contamination from PET recycling,” explains Alexander.

The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), Sonoma, Calif., endorses the Guidance Document and hopes to continue collaborative efforts to educate stakeholders about the contamination issue. “Cost-effective, recycling-friendly full-wrap labeling technology is currently available for some applications, with more being developed,” notes Dennis Sabourin, executive director of NAPCOR.

As part of APR’s Champions for Change™ Program, the shrink labeling guidance joins guidance documents related to PET bottles, high-density polyethylene bottles and designing for recyclability. Documents are available at

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World’s largest recycling operation processes 110 tons per hour

The world’s largest recycling operation, Newby Island Resource Recovery Park in San José, CA, processes and diverts 80% of the commercial waste generated by businesses in the city. Republic worked with Bulk Handling Systems (BHS), Eugene, OR, to design, manufacture and install the highly automated, custom system.

Capable of processing up to 110 tons of mixed waste per hour in four multi-stream material processing lines, the operation, run by Republic Services, Inc., Phoenix, AZ, consolidates waste collection formerly managed by 20 haulers. The new program not only provides standard recycling services for all businesses, but also introduces the recycling of organics using advanced technology that generates energy from waste.


In addition to serving more than 8,000 businesses, the system also processes recyclables from 85,000 households and has the capacity to process 420,000 tons of material annually. Clearly defining and targeting each stream is key to meeting the lofty recovery goals. “In San José we are dealing with four distinct streams: organics, commercial dry waste, commercial single-stream and residential single-stream,” observes Rich Reardon, director of sales and marketing for BHS. “Reaching a level of 80% meant recovering commodities that have traditionally been discarded. Breaking down the material stream and supplying processes to address each fraction ensures recovery optimization.”

“The new service will…help businesses and the City alike achieve their sustainability goals,” says San José Mayor Chuck Reed. “The investment in advanced waste processing facilities…moves the City significantly closer to achieving its Green Vision goal of diverting 100% of its waste from landfills and converting that waste into energy.” In addition to the recycling operation, Newby Island Resource Recovery Park also serves as the home for a composting facility and landfill.

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Brochure stresses the value of packaging

Discover the Hidden Value of Packaging, a brochure published by the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment (AMERIPEN), Wakefield, MA, counters arguments that packaging is unnecessary and wasteful.

“The reality, however, is quite different,” the brochure explains. “An objective, science-based approach reveals that packaging protects the economic, environmental and social value of the products it contains. In fact, effective packaging actually helps prevent waste.” Free copies may be downloaded from the AMERIPEN website,

AMERIPEN is a cross-sector group that works to communicate the value of packaging, increase recovery of used packaging and analyze approaches and alternatives to extended producer responsibility for packaging. Membership is open to all participants in the packaging value chain. Companies joining during the remainder of 2012, receive a 25% discount on dues. For more information, visit

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Conference focuses on creating next life solutions

Creating Next Life Solutions, PAC Conference, September 28-30, 2012, in Ottawa, Ontario, considers strategies to achieve the goal of PACnext, A World without Packaging Waste. Speakers, including Scott Cassel, chief executive officer and founder of the Product Stewardship Institute, Boston, MA, focus on implementing extended producer responsibility efforts, upcycling, recycling, sustainable packaging design and the environmental benefits of digital printing. For more information, visit

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Brand owners achieve sustainability goals

As brand owners like Sunny Delight Beverages Co., Cincinnati, OH, and Dean Foods, Dallas, TX, achieve sustainability targets and set new goals, packaging plays a significant role.

At Sunny Delight Beverages Co., Cincinnati, OH, conversion to an easier to pour and store 1-gallon square high-density polyethylene bottle will achieve a source reduction of 9.7 million pounds per year once fully implemented. SunnyD’s square container benefits consumers and retailers as well as the company. It fits better in home refrigerators, and the handle is designed to be easier to grip. An off-center spout pours smoothly, while front-facing labels simplify identification of favorite flavors. Retailers fit more bottles on store shelves. Since the square shape occupies 22% less space in shipping containers and permits a switch from cases to trays, there’s less corrugated for retailers to prepare for recycling. Once produced at all four SunnyD sites, the square container will cut corrugated usage by 12 million pounds per year. Less corrugated means about 66% fewer incoming shipments. Inbound bottle shipments also have decreased because 15% more bottles can be loaded on each truck. In addition, conversion to in-house bottle blowing at its Sherman, Texas, facility saves roughly 45,000 gallons of fuel per year by eliminating inbound transportation of empty containers.

Other sustainability successes at SunnyD included shipping nearly 100% of its volume in full truckloads and reductions in water and energy usage. In addition, all plants maintained a zero-waste-to-landfill record, diverting nearly 36 million pounds of waste since 2007. For more information about SunnyD’s 2011 Sustainability Report, visit

Dean Foods, Dallas, TX, has expanded its 2013 Environmental Roadmap to set 2020 goals for packaging, zero-waste plants and sustainable supply. The 2020 goals expand the company’s focus to more areas of sustainability, align with the broader dairy industry timing for greenhouse gas reductions and better reflect customer expectations and consumer demands.

The company reports mixed results for its 2013 goals, which called for reductions in greenhouse gases (20%), water usage (30%) and solid waste (30%). At its current pace, the company will miss its 2013 greenhouse gas and water goals due to unforeseen volume declines and more water-intensive processes from an expanding product portfolio, a common occurrence across the food industry. At the same time, the company has reduced solid waste 21%, increased recycling more than 50%, and exceeded – two years early – a key sub-goal of reducing distribution fleet carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 50,000 metric tons. For more information, visit

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Alcoa volunteers green their communities

Nearly 20,000 employees worked to improve their communities during the second annual Green Works campaign organized by Alcoa, New York, NY, a 45% increase from program’s inaugural year in 2011. The two-month global volunteering initiative supports the Company’s environmental programs and celebrates international environmental holidays like Arbor Day, Earth Day and World Environment Day and provides ideas other members of the packaging supply chain can implement in their communities.

Approximately 275 community service projects benefited from the Alcoa effort in 2012. Green Works volunteers:

  • Planted more than 60,000 trees to support Alcoa’s Ten Million Trees campaign
  • Recycled 45,500 pounds of electronics, keeping toxic materials out of landfills
  • Recycled 30,000 pounds of aluminum cans, enough to make almost 1 million new cans
  • Led nearly 120 workshops to show young people how to preserve the planet
  • Rehabilitated more than 100 rivers, parks and recreation areas

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Journal takes big picture look at climate change

Nature Climate Change, a monthly scientific journal now in its second year, examines the earth’s changing climate and its consequences. Content focuses primarily on original research in the physical and social sciences and provides a forum for leading experts through the publication of opinion, analysis and review articles. Content also includes Research Highlights and feature articles by science journalists. Articles undergo a rigorous, impartial review process.

Sister publications under the umbrella of Nature Publishing Group, New York, NY, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd., London, UK, include Nature and Scientific American. For more information, visit

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