CHICAGO (Nov. 12, 1 p.m. ET) — Sealed Air Corp. has introduced a multilayer shrink sleeve film that will allow converters to make up to 20 percent more shrink sleeves labels per pound of film compared to 50-micron monolayer films that are used to make shrink sleeves.
“We are looking at beverage applications, tamper-resistant pharmaceutical applications, health-and-beauty multi-packs and market applications where sleeves have struggled” because the rigidity of the film leads to “crinkling of the labels or a crackling sound when it is in the consumer's hands,” said Scott Keefauver, marketing manager for Sealed Air Shrink Packaging Solutions.
It is the second shrink line film product for Sealed Air, which entered that market two years with Cryovac 360, a five-layer film aimed at squeeze bottle product applications.
Sealed Air's new Cryovac GT-1 lower-density film is a multiple polymer film with glycol-modifed PET layers on the outside, making it a drop-in material that processors can use on their current production equipment and with their existing ink systems and sealing solvents.
“We believe it has a broad market appeal because of its ability to work across-the-board and combine the benefits of monolayer film into one product,” which has an improved shrink performance that will prevent label distortions, Keefauver said in a phone interview after Pack Expo in Chicago, where the film was introduced.
“We saw the opportunity to create a shrink sleeve film with good optics and with more flexibility” than single-layer PET-G, PVC and OPS [biaxially oriented polystyrene] films,” he said. “The three monolayer films used today all have their benefits, but their rigidity limits their applications.”
A case in point: products handled often by consumers. “Consumers don't like to have films that crinkle in their hands” — particularly on products they use frequently, such as jelly or mayonnaise containers, Keefauver said.
In addition, Cryovac GT-1 can be a solution for dairy products with direct printing and yogurt cups as the labels currently used on those products, he said, wrap well over the bottom, but have a tendency to push up on the lid or slip down at the top.
“Cryovac GT1 has been designed to improve upon the overall performance characteristics of the traditional mono-layer (PET-G, PVC, and OPS) full-body shrink labels currently used in the market today,” Keefauver said. “Cryovac GT1 should be selected as a label solution using the same care employed by converters and brand owners when selecting a mono-layer PET-G, PVC, or OPS full-body shrink label—keeping in mind that the label density for Cryovac GT1 is 1.08 g/cm3”.
Another target market for Sealed Air's new film: multi-packs for items such as shampoo bottles. “There is often space between the bottles or lots of wrinkling” with the current shrink sleeve films that are used, said Keefauver. “So this new film would present the product much better on the shelf and eliminate that void in the center.”
“It forms a tight shrink for difficult shapes and surfaces such as highly contoured bottles with a dramatic transition to a narrow neck and .... and also provides excellent shrink banding for product multi-packs,” said Keefauver.
He also cited several other advantages that Sealed Air believes the Cryovac GT-1 film for shrink sleeve labels have over monolayer films.
“Its shrinking is consistent in a high-transverse (or cross-directional) direction, so you get an even shrink and no print distortion,” said Keefauver. “And when you apply heat in a machine direction, it expands by 3-5 percent. So you dramatically limit the smiling or frowning” that can happen on labels when material “droops or pulls down, creating wrinkles.”
The impact of the new shrink sleeve film on PET container recycling is unclear. Keefauver said Sealed Air viewed the development of the film as a sustainability opportunity because more sleeves can be made per pound of film.
But one source told Plastics News that the new shrink sleeve film would be troublesome for PET recyclers, given its substrate and its density—1.08 grams per cubic centimeter compared to 1.32 grams for PET-G and 1.36 grams for PVC monolayer shrink sleeve films.
“It is still going to sink and cause problems,” said the source.
Indeed labels that sink was one of the issues the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers said could create a problem for PET recyclers when it issued its guidance document for full body shrink sleeve labels in late July.
“We don't know if the substrate floats in water or not,” said David Cornell, technical director of APR. “Their other sleeve label, Cryovac 360, does not. We don't know if the multi-layers will separate in the recycling process and if the materials of the substrate are low melters. The Cryovac definition of ‘sustainability' seems restricted to reducing material usage and process waste. We hope they are conducting testing per the APR guidance document for sleeve labels.”
Shrink sleeve labels in the PET recycling stream can also interfere with resin identification, be difficult to remove and clump together, said APR.
Sealed Air does not believe that labels made from its film will create recycling problems. But Keefauver did say that the Cryovac GT-1 shrink sleeve film has “a density greater than one so it should be used appropriately on bottles and containers with a density less than one.”
“We are in tune with APR and their documentation” on full body shrink sleeves labels, he said.
Global packaging giant Sealed Air, based in Elmwood Park, N.J., had $8.1 billion in revenues in 2011. It has more than 26,000 employees, 145 manufacturing locations, operations in 62 countries and provides products to customer in 175 countries.