“Perforation” – The Most Ignored Sustainable Step in Packaging
The climate emergency and plastic consumption are not hidden from anyone, nor do I need to explain them. What we need to understand is how we can be sustainable in our current scenario. Shrink sleeves are one of the smallest plastic problems, but it is one way which supports sustainability. We’ve already talked about how shrink sleeves can be recycled (as mentioned in my book, 5 Myths About Sustainable Shrink Sleeves). Today we will discuss how perforation in shrink sleeves could be a boon to recycling. Perforation on our packaged food or beverages is quite common. We know it provides a seal to the opening mouth. Top perforation around the neck or cap of the bottle is common. It prevents spillage and reduces the penetration of moisture and oxygen inside. Perforation on the conclave surface helps in venting out the air from the surface. Besides these, perforations are given to peel off the label from the bottle. The discarded shrink sleeves can be disposed of separately from the bottle, allowing the recycler to begin the process without having to inspect the shrink sleeves. Shrink Sleeves (printed with various inks and made up of different substrates) must be handled separately. It is the 3rd step in the recycling procedure known as “De-labeling”. Usually, in the absence of perforation, the de-labelling is done either mechanically or through high water pressure. The heat used during plastic recycling can also remove the labels and adhesive. This adds to the cost of recycling. We also need to understand the compatibility of different shrink sleeve substrates with PET/ PP/ PE bottles while recycling. If we use PVC shrink film and recycle the PET container it is attached to, it causes black speck contamination, making the container non-recyclable.