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Art Of Tracking Reusable Packaging With Polymer Fusion Labels

Traceability in the Meat & Poultry Industry

Traceability in the meat and poultry industry is important to consumers and producers alike.
Consumers and shoppers increasingly desire transparency as they shop, wanting to know product origins and how it was made. They are concerned with food safety, ethical sourcing, data security, and environmental impact, to name a few factors.

In the meat and poultry industry, for example, granting consumers transparency allows companies to truthfully tell their customers where their meat comes from, what’s in it, and why they can feel good about buying and eating it.

This can in turn positively impact consumer loyalty as they will stick with the brands they trust.

Traceability also provides an opportunity for logistical efficiency for meat and poultry producers and the reusable packaging containers used to transport them.

If a batch is contaminated, for instance, traceability improves control and management so it can be isolated and disposed of.

Package traceability allows companies to verify container contents, point of origin, final destination, and everything in between during the journey.
It also eliminates waste by discouraging theft.  This often includes containers being reground and destroyed. As you will read below, however, recent innovations in traceability technology provide the ability to verify ownership of the remaining particulates.

Lastly, traceability encourages the use of reusable packaging in place of single-use plastics that contribute to vast amounts of waste and environmental contamination.
“More people need to understand and appreciate why this (traceability) is important and how traditional traceability systems are evolving,” says Jarrod Sutton, vice president of domestic marketing for the Des Moines-based National Pork Board (NPB).

Sutton says, “Brands would be wise to engage thought leaders and tech companies to assist them in strategic planning.”*
A logical and reliable tracking and tracing system would allow consumers transparent access to the information they are looking for while simultaneously solving many key issues for reusable packaging producers and meat and poultry industry producers alike.

Why Do Typical Labels Fail to Perform Track/Trace Functions for Reusable Plastics?

Most meat and poultry crates and containers are made of high-density polyethylene plastic (HDPE). This plastic is chosen specifically for its superior performance including puncture resistance, chemical resistance during sanitization procedures, and long service life as a reusable.

However, the performance properties that make HDPE such a versatile material for reusable crates and containers also make it problematic for traditional “adhesion-based” warning labeling methods available today (e.g., pressure-sensitive adhesive, in-mold, hot stamp foil, heat transfer, silkscreen, pad printing, and more) that are intended to be on the product for life use.

Real-world results prove that common labeling methods are continuously failing their track and trace duty on HDPE crates and containers. This comes as no surprise as these types of containers and labeling are consistently being subjected to extremely harsh environments (sanitation cycles, extreme temperatures, chemicals, moisture, and more) numerous times annually throughout their lifespan that renders “adhesion-based” methods inoperative.
Apart from crucial information going missing or being unreadable, damaged labels cannot be reliably used for tracking and tracing purposes. Thieves can simply remove them and grind the pallets down for resell, companies cannot reliably identify their containers or where they are at any given point, and contaminated batches of meat and poultry are more difficult to identify because of failed or impossible-to-read labeling.

Ultimately, an unreliable labeling system results in the loss of time, money, and resources, and can even incur additional labor to reapply the failed labels that need to be present.

Polymer Fusion Labeling Technology: A Reliable Label Tracking Solution

Polymer Fusion Labeling Technology is the science of merging two separate polyolefin thermoplastic polymers together (polyolefin label + polyolefin product) utilizing melting point, time, and pressure, producing a singular piece of plastic without the use of adhesives, tie layers, bonding agents, or secondary surface treatments.

This labeling technology was engineered explicitly for perfect compatibility with polyolefin thermoplastics (including HDPE) to deliver unrivaled lifelong performance.
Rather than trying to adhere to the surface of polymers like polypropylene and polyethylene, Polyfuze labeling technology literally fuses into the surface of products made from these materials. This process is so permanent, that the Polyfuze label will actually expand and contract with the part during the hottest days of summer or the coldest day of winter.

Polymer Fusion Technology with D-TECT™

As part of a recent innovation, Polymer Fusion Labeling from Polyfuze can now be produced with a unique tagging technology, under the name D-TECT™.
D-TECT are microscopic, highly-tunable physical, optical, and magnetic crystals introduced into the polymer matrix of Polyfuze Graphics during production.

Once these magnetic crystals are embedded into the polymer matrix, they literally become part of the label and are ready to be used to label reusable packaging containers.

During application, the Polymer Fusion Label and reusable meat or poultry transport container simultaneously reach melt point causing a “fusion reaction.”

The result is a permanent authenticatable mark on plastic that cannot be lifted, separated, or removed for the life of the product no matter the environment or exposure.
D-TECT crystals are impossible to reverse engineer and permanently ensure consumer safety, brand protection, and product security, as well as supply chain governance and quality control for the life of the product.

In cases of reusable plastic theft that has been ground up, shredded, or converted to recyclate, invisible luminescent pigment can be added to Polymer Fusion Technology inks that can help investigators detect small fragments under blacklight or IR for identification purposes. Polyfuze offers an industry-leading Lifetime Guarantee to all our labeling solutions.

Our Engineering Team will be visiting the 2022 (IPPE) International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta, Georgia. If you’re interested in meeting up with us at the show or finding out more about Polymer Fusion Labeling permanent and track/trace solutions for reusable crates and containers, please call 928-634-8888.

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