Sealed Air Corp. has introduced a multilayer shrink-sleeve film that it said will allow converters to make up to 20 percent more shrink-sleeve labels per pound of film, compared with 50-micron monolayer films.
“We are looking at beverage applications, tamper-resistant pharmaceutical applications, health and beauty multipacks 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-film product for Sealed Air, which entered that market two years ago with Cryovac 360, a five-layer film aimed at squeeze-bottle applications.
Sealed Air's new Cryovac GT-1 lower-density film is a multiple-polymer film with glycol-modified 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” with improved shrink performance that will prevent label distortions, Keefauver said in a phone interview after Pack Expo in Chicago, where the film was introduced. The show was held Oct. 28-31.
“We saw the opportunity to create a shrink-sleeve film with good optics and with more flexibility” than single-layer PETG, PVC and [biaxially oriented polystyrene] films,” he said. “The three mono- layer 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 used for dairy products with direct printing and for 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.
Another target market for Sealed Air's new film: multipacks for items such as shampoo bottles. “There is often space between the bottles or lots of wrinkling” with current shrink-sleeve films, 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 also provides excellent shrink banding for product multipacks,” he said.
He also cited other advantages the Cryovac GT-1 film has 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.
The impact of the new shrink-sleeve film on PET container recycling is unclear. Keefauver said Sealed Air viewed development of the film as a sustainability opportunity because more sleeves can be made per pound of film.
But one source said the new film would be troublesome for PET recyclers, given its substrate and its density — 1.08 grams per cubic centimeter compared with 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.
Labels that sink was one of the issues that could create a problem for PET recyclers, the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers said 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, APR technical director. “Their other sleeve label, Cryovac 360, does not. We don't know if the multilayers 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 said it 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 1 [gram] so it should be used appropriately on bottles and containers with a density less than 1.”
“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. The company has more than 26,000 employees and 145 manufacturing locations. It operates in 62 countries and provides products to customers in 175 countries.