When it comes to recycling, there seems to be a minefield of conflicting advice and guidance around what you can recycle and how it should be recycled. Most household recycling tends to be categorised into the usual materials: glass, paper, cardboard, wood, plastic, metal, textiles and electronics. Though this covers the majority of product packaging, what about the sticky labels on this packaging? How can you make sure that your labels are not contaminating the recycled waste?
As you’d imagine, the main concern over recycling sticky labels is the adhesive. Adhesives themselves are not recyclable. When labels are recycled, the adhesive needs to be removed from the paper pulp. The obvious solution, and often the advice from some recycling facilities, is to remove the labels before recycling. In reality, very few people tend to do this as most packaging ends up being recycled with the labels still attached.
One of the key factors is the volume of labels. In small amounts, label waste can be processed fairly easily by most recycling facilities. Large quantities of sticky labels (e.g., a skip full), however, are far more difficult to process through the usual recycling methods and are often burned for energy recovery.
RCAs: Recycling Compatible Adhesive
Adhesives can be problematic when recycling products, particularly if they have not been specifically designed to be easily removed from the paper pulp. Fully recyclable labels should use a natural adhesive or an RCA (Recycling Compatible Adhesive).
RCAs are designed to be used on paper-to-paper products; they are resistant to the force of the shredder that creates the paper pulp during the recycling process and can be easily removed during the screening process, keeping contaminants out of the pulp that can compromise the quality of the recycled paper.
Natural Label Adhesive Alternatives
In recent years, adhesive companies have developed biodegradable adhesives made with the use of natural ingredients, reducing the risk of chemical pollutants in the recycling process and creating a truly biodegradable option for label suppliers. Used in conjunction with biodegradable-certified substrates, biodegradable adhesives can be used to make a label completely recyclable and compostable.
This type of approach to labelling is especially applicable to food products, but also has other applications. Biodegradable and recycling compatible adhesives can used with plant-based substrates and recyclable-certified papers to create eco-friendly alternatives to traditional label materials and adhesives.
Match your Labels with your Packaging
The key solution for not contaminating recycled waste is to match your label material with your packaging material. Making sure the end-of-life properties of your labels are compatible with the type of packaging for which they are intended will help to achieve more complete sustainable solution for your product.
It may sound obvious but if you’re using recyclable packaging then your labels should also be fully recyclable; the same applies to biodegradable and compostable packing and labels.
If you’re unsure about matching your labels with your packing, contact us for advice.
The Labels Plus Solution
Labels Plus are market leaders when it comes to sustainable labels solutions. Whether it’s recycling-compatible, biodegradable, or composable labels, we can help you to adopt a more eco-friendly approach to your packaging and minimise your carbon footprint.
Our biodegradable labels are made from renewable and replenishable resources and are produced with a compostable adhesive. A revolution in environmentally friendly labelling, our biodegradable labels have been accredited with EN13432 (the biodegradable & compostable packaging standard).
With over 20 years expertise to call upon, Labels Plus are guaranteed to find the right label for your requirements. Get in touch with our team today and find out how we can provide the ideal labels solutions at a price that offers our customers fantastic value.