What your packaging label says about your sustainability

The packaging industry has long known it needs to improve its sustainability credentials. A new label solution from Avery Dennison is helping it do just that

Packaging is everywhere: on the supermarket shelf, in your shopping basket, in your recycling and in the bin. As such, the need for a sustainable solution is easy to understand.

However, finding and implementing such a solution has not always been simple despite no shortage of consumer demand. Surveys have repeatedly shown that shoppers consider the recyclability of packaging important. They have petitioned for it to be more widely available, and they even say they are prepared to pay more to get it.

This demand means packaging manufacturers are seeing a huge surge of interest in sustainable solutions from businesses, not only from the more niche eco-lifestyle ranges and product lines, but also among mainstream brands.

As evidenced by the likes of L’Oréal switching to refillable packs and Nivea using bio-based plastic jars, take-up is growing outside food and drink, notes Mariya Nedelcheva, a product manager at Avery Dennison: “The market for sustainable packaging is dynamic and developing very quickly; there is a lot of demand,” she says. 

“And while it might not be heavily regulated at present, new guidelines are emerging and existing ones are evolving fast. However, a dynamic market coupled with new guidelines point to a lack of clarity in the industry.”

While there is a call to cut, or even eliminate, single-use plastic from packaging solutions, there is also a fast-growth trend for brands wanting to measure and reduce their CO2 footprint. Using recycled plastics and ensuring they undergo recycling at end-of-use are often the best options.

Eco-design can help brands resolve these mixed messages, explains Nedelcheva. “Eco-design principles can minimise the amount of material in production, but also maximise its recyclability at end-of-use. Linking design thinking to life-cycle analysis can therefore really help measure and reduce the total environmental impact.”

Avery Dennison runs an in-house EcoDesign programme to embed the principles into every product, from compostable labels to its range of materials made with recycled content. With the launch of the next generation of its CleanFlake technology, it is also boosting the yield of rPET plastic that is available and can be turned into new products. 

Originally launched as a beverage label in 2013, CleanFlake technology solves a critical problem in PET plastic recycling by ensuring label adhesive stays with the label and not on the package. This minimises contamination and helps produce purer quality PET for recycling, meaning more can go on to become new packaging, rather than being downcycled, sent to landfill or incinerated.

Eco-design principles can minimise the amount of material in production

This circularity is achieved without compromising on usability, with CleanFlake materials performing just like any other self-adhesive label and offering the same aesthetic. This makes them suitable for a wide range of product segments, including beauty, food and home and personal care. By improving recyclability for many kinds of PET containers, including clamshells and trays, CleanFlake broadens the range of sources of higher-quality PET available, meaning the industry is less reliant on bottles.

CleanFlake is also useful to brands from an Extended Producer Responsibility perspective, says Nedelcheva: “Companies using PET packaging no longer have to choose between true recyclability and outstanding performance when it comes to their labels. We have closed the gap.”

CleanFlake label constructions come with an rPET23 liner as standard. Made in part from post-consumer PET plastic waste, the liner can be recycled through Avery Dennison’s AD Circular scheme.

This pan-European, cross-industry initiative offers the ability to collect and recycle release liners from any manufacturer, regardless of origin, via a web-based app. Avery Dennison handles all the paperwork, compliance and regulatory concerns. AD Circular provides useful data in the form of analytics and certificates, showing volumes of liner waste recycled, as well as the total CO2 emissions avoided as a result.

As an example of collaboration across the value chain, AD Circular illustrates how Avery Dennison helps brands advance and evidence sustainability, concludes Nedelcheva.

“Nobody can go it alone when it comes to circularity. Regulators, recyclers, brands and manufacturers are all part of an ecosystem and need to collaborate to better serve the planet in a more nature-driven future. Working together on sustainability is a must.”

For more information visit label.averydennison.com

Promoted by Avery Dennison