Speaking Sustainably on Labeling
Avery Dennison has some ambitious sustainability goals it wants to hit by 2025. It wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 percent year-over-year, go up to 95 percent landfill-free, eliminate 70 percent of matrix and liner, and source film and chemicals more responsibly, among others.
Sarah Sanzo, Avery Dennison’s product compliance and sustainability manager, is responsible for all of these 2025 goals, which are based on the natural set principles. And while she admits that reducing and responsible sourcing are “no-brainers” when it comes to a more sustainable planet, others pose much more of a challenge. For instance, liner waste recycling.
“Between getting rid of the liner and the matrix, it’s a very ambitious goal that we’re working diligently on,” she says. “For liner, there already are solutions. That liner can be recycled already. The biggest challenge to that is transportation, the costs associated with it. Here in the states, landfilling is cheap. It’s kind of out of site, out of mind. You’re not living in waste like other countries are. Here, you put it in the trash can and it’s gone. And of course, that poses tons of other problems. There are solutions we can do to make it feasible for our customers, to make it not as daunting and not as expensive. Depending on where you are in the nation, it can be double or even quadruple the amount that it would take to landfill in order to get (liner) to a correct recycler.”
While liner waste and matrix recycling is still a work in progress, however, other goals are coming to fruition thanks to innovation and new product families. One of these portfolios is Avery Dennison’s CleanIntent, and all products that qualify for it must consist of responsibly sourced materials, reduced materials and contain some amount of recyclable content.
“We’re looking at bringing more products into the portfolio, especially around recycled content,” Sanzo says. “We’re looking to move the needle, not just make something niche.”
The company’s CleanFlake adhesive technology is another innovation poised to enable recycling for more PET bottles and containers. Specifically, the portfolio consists of a water-based, recyclable adhesive, which easily and cleanly separates the label from the bottle during the sink/float stage of the plastics recycling process. Once the label is removed, then the bottle or container can be upcycled into another bottle or container. Sanzo says if the PET was just going through the process with the label still attached, it could still be recycled – but into a park bench or pallet. Seeing as how 50 billion plastic water bottles are consumed in one year, anything that enables this bottle-to-bottle upcycling is significant.