NCCO Clear Labels Help Boost Plastics Recycling

We are all familiar with the RRR – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – mantra designed to better manage the waste producers and consumers create throughout the day. Reducing focuses on managing waste by not producing it in the first place. Reusing, as the name implies, looks to use an item or product as many times as possible before discarding.

For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on Recycling.

Recycling takes used materials and then processes and remanufactures them to sell anew. This practice helps reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators while conserving natural resources, preventing pollution and greenhouse gas production.

As of 2023, however, only 32.5% of plastic waste in the European Union gets recycled, and almost 25% goes straight to landfill or ends up in our oceans and greenspace. The EU is looking to raise the recycling rate to 55% by 2030 for plastic packaging, which is the largest source of plastic waste.

NCCO is committed to helping make that goal a reality. But it isn’t always grand gestures that make the most difference. It is often the little things, the things people don’t often think about or realize when considering how to make recycling more effective or help cut back on plastic waste, that matter most.

One such thing is labeling.

Managing Plastic Packaging

Let’s start by talking about the different types of plastics. There are several types, many of which are not recyclable. Some examples of non-recyclable plastics include bioplastics, composite plastic, plastic-coated wrapping paper and polycarbonate – think of cling film and blister packaging as plastics that cannot be recycled.

Thermoplastics, on the other hand, are polymers that can be melted and recast; the material gets its name from the fact that it melts when heated and hardens when cooled. These effects are completely reversible, and the material can then be reheated, reshaped, and frozen continually. This is what makes thermoplastics mechanically recyclable.

In order to better understand how different types of plastic packaging can be recycled, a system of symbols is used. These symbols are often demarcated by numbers so the consumer can quickly and easily determine whether or not their packaging is recyclable.

These are the most common recyclable plastic types:

  • 1 – Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) – including water bottles and plastic trays
  • 2 – High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) – things like milk cartoons and shampoo bottles
  • 5 – Polypropylene (PP) – think of margarine tubs and ready-meal trays

Along with the polypropylene, polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate mentioned above, other thermoplastics include polyvinylchloride, polystyrene, and polycarbonate.

Learn more about these recycling symbols and plastic packaging here.

Clear Labels Boost Recycling

Understanding the differences between plastics then helps us to understand how something as simple as labels can make all the difference. Part of the problem with plastic packaging ending up as waste is mixing plastics, i.e., a label made of plastic material that doesn’t comply with standards of recycling then removes recycling potential for the plastic on which it was placed.

As our clear labels are made entirely of recyclable #5 polypropylene, one of the most common types of plastics used for packaging as mentioned above, all packaging that uses these labels is now fully recyclable. By introducing clear labels for to-go and takeaway items, we sidestep this issue and help ensure at least a certain amount of plastic packaging is recycled.

Grab-and-go and takeaway food has become an increasingly common way for people to get their meals (read our blog Summer Food Trends: UK Foodies are Taking to the Streets to learn more). Clear labels have the opportunity to become the new standard for quick service restaurants, food trucks, convenience stores and corner shops, and any and all other food service establishments dedicated to reducing waste.

As states, plastic packaging makes up the bulk of plastic waste found in landfills and oceans. By offering clear labels for the DateCodeGenie automated labeling system, NCCO offers one solution for cutting the amount of plastic waste that ends up polluting our environment, helping reduce waste and support our fragile ecosystem.

Explore our Clear labels.

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