Biaxially-Oriented (BO) Polypropylene (PP) or BOPP has within the last few years been approved for recycling in most American systems, a few, but not all, British systems, a planned system in Australia, and broader systems across Europe.
Bopp is ready for the circular economy.
If you have a plastic container that is no longer needed, but has a stretched on no-glue label, you may discover that it is from BOPP material and may be asking “Can BOPP be recycled?” The answer is “yes!”
This plastic product was, up until now, excluded from processing at facilities in the HDPE recycling bins but now, thanks to advancements in methodology, can be left on HDPE (2) products instead of being peeled off and thrown into the rubbish
In July of 2020, even though the world was widely shut down, the engineers at Avery Dennison Label and Packaging Materials published a test certifying BOPP safe and compliant with HDPE processing.
HDPE products are recycled at a rate of 30 percent, plus or minus (given the year), in America.
These plastics, mostly used in containers for consumers goods, such as food and cosmetics, have been shown to be recyclable up to ten times.
The rate of one third gives HDPE an important place in the circular economy if it can continue to re-enter the production cycle ten times.
Up until now, the challenge lay for HDPE containers if their label was constructed from BOPP materials.
BOPP labels are preferable to manufacturers given that they are secured to packaging by pressure sensitive application, as opposed to traditional adhesives.
If a BOPP label is essentially melted onto the container, as opposed to glued on, removing the label, making HDPE packaging qualifiable for recycling, proved nearly impossible.
Advantages of BOPP Labelling
The prevalence of BOPP labelling has risen by 5 percent in the last year and stands to rise by another 5 percent per year for the next three years.
There are a few vital reasons why.
BOPP labelling does not require adhesives or adhesion application in order to stick to its container.
Instead, a pressure sensitive heat induced process is used to adhere it to its packaging.
While that may not seem to be much if you look at the nearest bottle of soda to you, just consider that 20,000 bottled drinks are purchased every second globally, which works out to 500 billion bottled sodas sold each year.
Manufacturers aren’t looking to simply save money on their packaging.
They are also looking to move more product.
If the package their product arrives in is more attractive, the odds of it selling versus its massive amount of competition rises.
BOPP labelling, stretched and applied with pressure sensitive processes makes it possible for the label to be applied without it looking like it was applied.
It makes a soda bottle appear to have been produced with the nutrition values printed on already
It makes the label of a popular facial cream take the hue of the cream in the bottle and immerses the product with the advertisement in which it is wrapped.
More vibrant colors are possible to include in labelling simply because colors pop more aggressively due to the requisite varnish and protective layering.
Gloss and matte finishes are available to the taste of the manufacturer.
More Than Just a Label
BOPP, now cleared in label form to be included in HDPE now stands a good chance to be included in your local recycling bin’s accepted materials.
The reason this is such a big impact on the circular economy is that BOPP is a highly ubiquitous plastic.
Other than on labels it can be found:
- As insulation in microelectronics due to the fact that it is melted and stretched along two axes
- In shrink wrap, which is useful for projects as simple as keeping a meal fresh for longer to wrapping an entire pallet of mulch for a hardware store shipping operation, securing the otherwise shifty bags to the container
- In adhesive materials used in shipping and vacuum seal and release bags
- In metallicized packaging. The next time you open up a bag of chips and see the metallic looking interior, it’s not metal. It’s BOPP.
As a Labelling Material
At this point, it would likely be easier to discuss where BOPP labelling isn’t available.
The sale of BOPP materials in America is a billion dollar a year industry and will rise in the future.
As you continue to designate your recyclable goods, look for BOPP on:
- Clear labels and self-applied stickers
- Labels approved for freezing temperatures
- Moving tags and promotional coupons attached to products
- Metallic labels using the same metallicized process as the interior of individual potato chip bags.
Recycling Into the Future
The longer recycling continues to improve in cultures across the world, both in access to recyclable materials and in incentives to recycle, its intended effect on the world will continue to rise.
With a full third of American HDPE plastics being recycled before BOPP was approved, the chances of that third moving closer to a half goes happily higher.
With not only HDPE labelling, it also means that when someone stretch wraps a meal, the plastic wrap can go into the blue bin instead of the rubbish.
Potato chip bags can get turned back in for a new packaging and the tons and tons of shrink wrap used annually can go back into service.