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Story | 02/22/2016 15:12:00

Shrink sleeve labels are the rising trend in packaging

UPM Raflatac's new shrink sleeve label material makes packages stand out and improves the recyclability of plastic bottles.


Shrink sleeve films represent a new type of label that has rapidly become popular, particularly in the food and beverage industry. Shrinking the label around a product makes it possible to use the entire surface of a package for marketing purposes or for providing product information. This also enables brands to create impressive packaging and improve on-shelf visibility.

“The appearance of products is crucial to our end customers as they want their brands to stand out from the competition. Shrink sleeve labels enable designers to create new, more creative solutions, for instance by making use of versatile shapes in packaging,” says Erkki Nyberg, Director, Shrink Sleeve Films, UPM Raflatac.

New technology

With shrink sleeve labels, UPM Raflatac is expanding its business from self-adhesive label materials to a new product area. Shrink sleeves do not contain any adhesive, but are shrunk tightly around products using hot steam. The seaming of these sleeves takes place during labelling.

The UPM Raflatac RafShrink shrink sleeve films have primarily been designed for the beverage industry where production volumes are high. The shrinkage properties of these film labels are essential to its functionality.

“Due to UPM innovations, the shrinkage properties of our materials are excellent compared to other similar polyolefin films. Our products have also high clarity and low haze, which ensures sharp images with vibrant colours, and the plastic film protects the colours perfectly when it is reverse-side printed,” Nyberg explains.

Improving the recyclability of plastics

The shrink sleeve materials produced by UPM Raflatac are polyolefin-based, which is a significant asset in the recycling of products such as transparent PET plastic bottles. The PO plastic of the labels floats at the top of separation tanks, making it possible to separate the labels from the valuable PET before it is reused. The labels themselves can be utilised in energy production, among other things.

“I believe that the use of polyolefin-based shrink sleeve film materials will grow rapidly as a result of these recyclability-related properties,” Nyberg states.

The recyclability of UPM Raflatac's RafShrink products have been recognised by the North American Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) and the European PET Bottle Platform (EPBP).


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