Reducing Waste With Reusable Plastic Packaging And Recyclable Labels
It is no secret that single-use plastics have become a modern burden on society. But they don’t have to be! Durable, reusable plastics are answering the call and are a game changer for many industries that are investing in this packaging method that is having numerous positive impacts on the supply chain.
Plastic packaging manufacturers and end-users already utilizing reusable packaging no doubt understand many of the benefits.
Products and goods are better protected inside durable packaging. Reusable packaging is traceable through barcoding, increasing supply chain and transportation efficiency of product management.
Reusable packaging directly eliminates waste as packaging does not need to be replaced or disposed of as often.
Reusable packaging can be traced/tracked using labeling, which introduces many added benefits that we will briefly discuss in this article.
Low Surface Energy Plastics
Reusable, durable packaging is often comprised of plastics such as TPV, TPO, PE, PP, HDPE, LDPE, because of the inherent qualities these types of plastics possess.
They are affordable, strong, durable, 100% recyclable, chemically inert, UV and environmental exposure resistant. They expand and contract with extreme hot and cold temperatures, can withstand harsh chemicals/saltwater corrosion, and repeated use over a long lifespan.
These qualities mean companies that invest in reusable, durable plastic packaging can expect to see reliable return on investment.
Labels and Low Surface Energy Plastics
One of the problems that is not often talked about or fully understood with these types of plastics has to do with the exact qualities that make them so attractive to use in the first place.
As discussed above, they boast a list of characteristics that make them ideal for reusable packaging purposes.
These characteristics also, ironically, make them difficult to label.
For your reference, Steel has a much higher surface energy than the types of plastics we are discussing here. Surface energy is measured in Dynes per CM.
- Steel: 1000 Dynes
- Polyethylene: 30 Dynes
- Teflon: 18 Dynes
Imagine trying to stick a label onto a surface that has a surface energy like Teflon. It will inevitably fail.
Absolutely nothing wants to stick to low surface energy plastics.
That is because these typical labeling technologies such as stickers, hot stamps, heat transfers, or In-Mold Labels, are constructed of incompatible materials, that would perform phenomenally on a steel surface, but are attempting to stick to a surface that inherently rejects them.
The battle for all typical labeling technologies is two-fold. Not only do they have to fight to stay adhered in any capacity to a plastic surface that will continually reject them, but they also must be able to withstand a barrage of potential contaminants, attacks, chemicals, UV exposure, repeated use, expanding with extreme hot and cold temperatures, or even in some cases, exposure to extremely corrosive salt water or water immersion/ exposure in general.
Polymer Fusion Labeling: The Perfect Match for Reusable Packaging
Polymer Fusion Labeling for low surface energy plastics are in a class all their own.
Their superpower lies in what they do not have.
- They do not utilize inks, substrates, or adhesives.
- They do not “stick,” they fuse.
Invented and patented in the 80’s, Polymer Fusion Labeling is a technological labeling solution that was designed to specifically solve the unique problems that low surface energy plastics manufacturers and end-users face when it comes to labeling.
Using standard hot stamping equipment, the labels are stamped into the subsurface of the plastic and become a part of the plastic for the life of the part.
This labeling technology is perfect for barcodes, logos, or a variety of labels that reusable packaging may need and that you can rely on to be completely legible for the life of the part.
If you are experiencing problems with the labels you currently use for your reusable plastic packaging, please give us a call at 928-634-8888.