Avery Dennison Wins 2014 Sustainability Excellence Award

Five years into its sustainability journey, Avery Dennison of Mentor, OH has expanded its sense of what’s possible. The company and its team members—from the executive office on down to the manufacturing floor—now envision a world in which all label and packaging materials are responsibly sourced. It sees corporations partnering with customers and communities to address significant problems in ways that benefit people and the planet.

For working to encourage recycling, conserve energy, trim waste and reduce emissions, Avery Dennison has won a 2014 Sustainability Excellence Award in the Innovations in Sustainability category.

2014 Sustainability Excellence Award Avery Dennison CleanFlake
CleanFlake was designed to address the lifecycle impacts of pressure-sensitive labels and full bottle shrink labels on PET recyclability.
Photo courtesy of Avery Dennison

Speaking on behalf of the entire organization, encompassing operations in 50 countries and 26,000 employees, Maria Kula, communications manager within the North American materials group, explained, “We are facilitating a network for printers, packagers and packaged goods brands to reduce waste across the industry. We are in the process of setting new, long term targets. We will raise the bar for energy, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and workplace safety, and at the same time continue to work with our stakeholders on recycling and social compliance.”

As retailers and brands push for solutions to meet their aggressive sustainability goals, Avery Dennison maintains that it is “delivering inspiring innovations designed to drive growth for converters. One such innovation is its CleanFlake Portfolio, built on its proprietary SR3010 adhesive, which debounds and cleanly separates the label during the recycling process. The label floats and the pure polyethylene terephthalate (PET) sinks to deliver food grade quality PET flakes.”

That innovation captured a 2014 FTA Sustainability Excellence Award. “CleanFlake was designed to address the lifecycle impacts of pressure sensitive labels and full bottle shrink labels on PET recyclability,” Kula said. “CleanFlake can help brands and consumer packaging companies adhere to design for recycling guidelines, so that their PET bottles and containers can be easily collected and do not contribute to contamination and yield loss of recycled PET supply.”

Documentation submitted in Avery Dennison’s award application summarizes the driving forces behind the product’s development, as well as its acceptance. It reads as follows:

“Since 1988, the PET packaging industry has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure that PET bottles are not only collected for recycling but are, in fact, recycled and remanufactured into dozens of different products. As the Federal Trade Commission points out, this does not mean that every PET bottle can claim to be recyclable. If an incidental component significantly limits the ability to recycle a product or package, a claim of recyclability would be deceptive.”

“CleanFlake has proof of meeting all of the recyclability guidelines and is fully adaptable to existing assets at both the converter and the end user. The label, adhesive and release liner materials function in existing high speed converting and bottling. In addition, the release liners used are ultra thin 92 gauge or 75 gauge PET, bringing additional benefits of more labels on a roll, reduced transportation costs per roll, and less liner material for the end user to recycle.”

The manufacturer reported that, when PET bottles can be easily converted to RPET flake or pellet, lifecycle analysis shows a reduction in all impact categories for processing, when compared to virgin PET: fewer petroleum products, less energy use, water use and waste generated, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, when the RPET flake or pellet is used to make products, the lifecycle benefit continues. For every pound of virgin PET replaced with RPET:

  • Energy use is reduced by 84 percent
  • Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 71 percent
  • For every 1,000 tons of PET plastic recycled, 2,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions are eliminated
  • 53 billion BTUs of energy are conserved compared to using virgin PET

Social and economic aspects are also significant when PET recycling increases, according to Avery Dennison. For every 1,000 tons of PET recycled:

  • 22 to 30 jobs are directly and indirectly supported through collection, sorting, processing and manufacturing of the end product
  • From 2010 to 2012, more than $500 million in new investments yielded high technology plants that better convert postconsumer packages back into raw material that supports a wide range of domestic manufacturing applications
  • New capacity can directly create more than 5,000 jobs and indirectly support an additional 6,000 jobs
  • If PET bottles are collected through container deposit systems, another 4,000 jobs can be sustained

Darrell Hughes, vice president and general manager of Avery Dennison Materials Group North America, commented, “We understand that industry transforming innovations begin with a view of the entire value chain—from responsible sourcing to end of life analysis.” Alluding to how the product was developed, he said, “We worked closely with stakeholders including raw material suppliers and reclaimers to solve a very real challenge: improving the recyclability of PET containers. We are proud to be offering the industry a solution that will allow more high quality recycled PET to enter the supply stream.”

I liked how they visited recyclers to better understand the difficulties and find a way to improve the situation. The innovation benefits the entire industry.

Judge Lori Ashford of Robbie Fantastic Flexibles

Following review of the application, judges took notice. Lori Ashford of Robbie Fantastic Flexibles in Lenexa, KS, stated, “I liked how they visited recyclers to better understand the difficulties and find a way to improve the situation. The innovation benefits the entire industry.” For her part, Dolores Corcoran of The Lauterbach Group in Sussex, WI, observed. “Avery Dennison Corp. won hands down under the category for Innovation in Sustainability for product end of life cycle recycling initiatives. Its product and determination set it apart.”

Avery Dennison reported that, “Development of this portfolio adheres to Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) Design for Recyclability Guidelines for Plastic Bottle Recycling, which is a key program to eliminate the obstacles to plastic recycling.”

The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) reviewed testing data and product information, then decreed, “NAPCOR applauds Avery Dennison and its customers for addressing a critical impediment to the efficient recycling of PET containers. The increased popularity of pressure sensitive labels makes it imperative that they be successfully removed from PET packaging as part of the standard reclamation process. We hope other label manufacturers and brand owners follow the lead.”

While proud of their award-winning technology, Avery Dennison executives are not resting on the laurels. Kula maintained, “We are also setting ambitious goals for our three most important materials: paper, plastic films and the chemicals used in labels and adhesives. We are implementing our responsible paper sourcing policy with the ultimate goal of achieving full certification. We also intend to explore bio-based alternatives to petroleum based resins and chemicals. We believe we can help bring the packaging industry toward widespread use of these more sustainable materials and at the same time reduce our costs. Converters don’t have to compromise on sustainability to deliver shelf appeal.”