REFPET Labelling – Labelling and circular economy

The new SACMI Roll-Fed applications designed for the world of returnable PET and RefPET. From special washable glues to the revolutionary “RAPTOR”

Being a distinctive and indispensable element of enhancement of the identity and brand of a product, the label can become an issue for efficient management of the recovery and reuse process of the container. With the REFPET project, SACMI challenges the sector, proposing various applications aimed at making the label separation process from returnable PET containers more competitive.

There are four options available based on the well-established Roll Fed technology, which distinguishes SACMI labelling worldwide. Common factor: to support the customer in the need to combine a priori a specific technological choice with the need for recycling and reuse downstream the process. At this stage, in fact, it is necessary to remove the label from the container, in order to wash it and put it back into the production cycle.

The first option available is cold labelling with paper labels, a solution now prevalent on the market, but one that leads to a significant increase in the cost of packaging for manufacturers. Among the alternatives identified so far by the main technology suppliers are pre-glued plastic films that avoid the direct application of glue in the machine. However, they also pose significant process management issues (poor adhesion of the label in the case of bottles that are not perfectly dry) and additional costs for detaching the labels and washing the containers.

Hence SACMI’s challenge, which offers the market two further options. First, the use of a special “washable glue“, a substance soluble in soda and at low temperatures, ideal in particular for returnable PET where high washing temperatures could damage the container. Already marketed by SACMI – which also supplies, on request, the relevant special glues – this solution involves the installation on the machine of the special “Speed Coat” kit which, starting from the specific geometry of the container, limits the application of the glue to a few well-defined points, favouring perfect adhesion but also the possibility of being easily detached during container washing.

How to overcome the residual limits of any technology? By completely eliminating the need to apply glue in direct contact with the container. This is the idea behind a fourth revolutionary system, which involves applying glue exclusively to the two parts in contact with the wrap-around label. In this application, the bottle is first sprayed with water, which favours perfect adhesion of the label. At the same time, a thin layer of hot glue is applied on the back exclusively in the parts in contact with the label.

Once returned, the container is treated with RAPTOR a machine equipped with a special system that removes the label from the container quickly and safely, without damaging the container while quality is 100% guaranteed thanks to the vision system.

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Written by Kevin Gambrill