DAILY NEWS Jan 16, 2013 3:36 PM - 0 comments

Value chain consortium addresses PET recycling issues

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To identify solutions to the recent issues surrounding polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and full-wrap labels in the recycle stream, Eastman Chemical Company has organized a full-wrap label consortium.

The group, which includes members from more than 30 companies across the value chain, is charged with digging further into the issues to better understand the problems and developing near-term and long-term solutions that will benefit all involved parties.

Approximately 80 percent of full-wrap labels in North America are found on PET containers, the most recycled plastic on the market. As full-wrap labels are becoming more popular because they offer increased shelf appeal, many PET bottles also have been downgauged. The combination of these two elements has exacerbated the challenge recyclers face in processing these PET 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,” said Holli Whitt, market development manager, sustainability for specialty plastics, Eastman Chemical Company. “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.”

The full-wrap label consortium members 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.

The group has already met twice, August 2012 and November 2012. A third meeting is scheduled for next month. “We are working on the right combination of solutions to get the highest impact that makes the most economic sense,” Whitt said. “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.”

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