As the world’s largest label company, CCL would be expected to lead the sustainability revolution with innovative solutions to create the labels of an environmentally-sound future. And so it does, with several initiatives that have taken its labels from top-notch adornments to brand-builders with a conscience.
The ‘sustainable label family’, as CCL calls its holistic label solutions, has a number of elements, starting with enabling recycling and promoting advancement of the circular economy. At the heart of these efforts is a range of specially engineered labels that covers the needs of brands wanting to boost their recycling rates, or that are looking to reduce, reuse, recycle or support the recycling of the primary packaging. Putting the environmental goals of customers first in developing sustainable solutions is CCL’s ‘positive product’ philosophy.
Label materials can contribute significantly to the recyclability of PET containers, thus CCL has pioneered EcoFloat, EcoStream and stretch sleeves. Business development director: Africa Shivern Reddy explains that these products detach automatically from PET bottles during sorting and recycling and are easily removed. ‘They are integral to closing the packaging loop, as they ensure a very high quality and quantity yield for bottle-to-bottle recycling,’ he elaborates. ‘They range from bio-based and floatable materials to wash-off solutions to ultra-thin sleeves with a very low carbon footprint. The low-density polyolefin material of the EcoStream self-adhesive labels, for example, allows effortless separation from heavier PET flakes.‘
Shivern adds that the EcoFloat premium shrink sleeve is lower in density than PET to support the recycling stream and will rise to the top of the water basin during the grinding and washing process. The ultra-thin stretch sleeve works on the same separate-and-float principle, while EcoStretch enables recycling of printed sleeves into new ones, thus retaining the material in the circular economy. ‘Our fully recyclable Bio-PE is the first 100% bio-based stretch sleeve available and is based on bioethanol from sugar cane.’
As the inclusion of recycled post-consumer materials into packaging gains momentum, CCL Label has developed solutions with more than 30% recycled content, thus lowering carbon emissions, which addresses climate change. The company also offers film containing bio-based plastic resins derived from tall oil, which is a by-product of the paper industry that promises a further reduction in manufacturing carbon levels, he notes.
‘Labels and sleeves have a huge influence on recycling and reuse of post-consumer packaging products, which is why we remain constantly mindful that product decoration to attract buyer attention to brands must be balanced by environmental performance,’ Shivern concludes.