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Next-Gen In-Mold Labeling Technology Earns RecyClass Approval

MCC Verstraete reports that tests show its NextCycle In-Mould Label technology is fully compatible with Europe’s rigid polypropylene (PP) recycling stream. Both its sorting behavior and recycling compatibility were positively assessed by independent testing facilities. The results show that the recycled material from NextCycle IML packaging can be reused in high-end and closed-loop applications, said MCC Verstraete, an innovator of in-mold labeling for injection molding, blow molding, and thermoforming.

NextCycle IML consists of a PP label fully printed with non-bleeding inks wrapped around a PP tub without the addition of adhesives. Unlike regular in-mold labels (IML), NextCycle IML labels can be separated from containers first at the grinding and then at the air elutriation stages, where separated label flakes are removed from container flakes and sent to flexible plastic streams. This prevents contamination of the rigid PP recycling stream with inks and other decorations. In particular, this technology enables the separation of printed label flakes from natural PP container flakes.

The compatibility of the PP tub and NextCycle IML combination with recycling was evaluated at the Institut für Kunststofftechnologie und -recycling (IKTR), according to the RecyClass Recyclability Evaluation Protocol for PP Containers. The tests demonstrated that more than 98% of the NextCycle IML was removed after the grinding and air elutriation stages, enabling up to 50% of the recycled plastic to be reused in closed-loop applications, such as PP injection molding.

Additionally, analysis of the sorting behavior carried out by the National Test Centre Circular Plastics (NTCP), according to the RecyClass Sorting Evaluation Protocol for Plastic Packaging, demonstrated that the fully printed NextCycle IML achieves 98% efficiency in sorting PP tubs within the rigid PP recycling stream. Laboratory tests show that NextCycle In-Mould Label conforms to current European PP container recycling streams under certain conditions.

RecyClass is a cross-industry group that promotes packaging recyclability. It has developed scientific testing methods and a reliable system for verifying the recycled content in plastic products articulated around the principles of traceability and transparency.