At Labelexpo Americas 2022, Flint Group Narrow Web has demonstrated how its new Evolution Series can boost the recyclability of shrink sleeves and bottles made from crystallizable PET. Recognized by the Association of Plastic Recyclers in the USA, the products – a deinking primer for shrink sleeves and an overprint varnish for pressure-sensitive labels – prevent ink contamination during recycling, so that the PET quality remains clear in the waste stream.
Applied in a single pass on a press, these products are said to require no changes to the converter’s existing ink system or curing processes.
In this way, the Evolution Series makes an important contribution to the circular economy for packaging – where recycled plastic material is remains valuable and is kept in the production chain for longer, says the company.
Over print PSL varnish ups PET yield
The Evolution Caustic Resistant Over Print Varnish is applied to the pressure-sensitive label after the colors are printed. The varnish protects the ink, stopping it from bleeding out in the caustic wash, said Flint Group Narrow Web.
After the bottle and label are ground down, the pressure-sensitive label flakes cleanly separate from the package in the caustic ‘float-sink’ bath. The label material containing the protected ink floats to the top and can be skimmed off to an alternate waste system, leaving the uncontaminated PET flake in the recycling stream.
Deinking primer keeps shrink sleeve in recycling stream
The Evolution Deinking Primer for PET shrink sleeves is a primer that goes between the ink and the sleeve itself. According to company, when the package is recycled, the primer enables the ink to separate from the sleeve and wash away in the caustic bath. The ink and sleeve go their separate ways: the ink and the primer rise to the top of the caustic wash and are swiped off.
This leaves behind the sleeve, which instead of being taken to landfill, now remains in the recycling stream with the bottle – and adds between three and six percent of the sleeve pack back into the recycling chain.
Both the over print varnish and deinking primer are Dual Cure UV flexo inks, curable under LED lamps as well as conventional mercury lamps.
The Evolution Deinking Primer won the Environmental Sustainability Award at the Global Label Awards, announced on the show’s opening night, on September 13, 2022. The judging panel felt that the primer makes a major contribution to developing a circular lifecycle for label materials.
Julian Cass, vice president for North America at Flint Group, commented: 'Flint Group is committed to driving packaging circularity with innovations that minimize environmental harm and bring value to the wider supply chain.
'The Evolution Series is a perfect example of that, providing converters with a fast and smooth solution for improving the sustainability of their offering – as well as that of their brand owner customers. No additional printing stations are required: the converter can be offering a recyclable pack in the short time it takes to exchange one coating station on the press.'
Lower energy costs with LED curing: Expanded Dual Cure range
At the show, Flint Group Narrow Web also presented its expanded range of Dual Cure UV-flexo inks that are curable under LED lamps as well as mercury lamps.
Dual Cure Ultra Clear is a UV-flexo clear over-printed coating that does not yellow over time. Free of benzophenone, Dual Cure Ultra Clear offers assurance of long-term brand integrity and product safety.
Dual Cure inks and coatings allow label converters to embrace the environmental, low-energy and productivity advantages of LED-UV curing, while managing the financial risk associated with curing lamp conversions. Switching to LED-UV curing technology with Flint Dual Cure inks brings energy cost reductions of up to 50 percent, compared with using mercury lamps on press, as the lamp produces less heat.