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Not all PCRs are alike

When it comes to recycling material for blister packaging, transparency is required.


Straw today, gold tomorrow? Though not impossible in fairy tales, everyday industrial reality prefers not to rely on hocus-pocus. Tangible inventions and developments are required if a material is to be replaced with another, better one. This was the case when we set about to create “green” packaging for our famous tesa tape. The trick was to use worn-out and recycled consumer plastic waste (PET-PCR)…

What might have until recently been a PET plastic bottle is now environmentally friendly packaging that protects the well-known adhesive film as well as about 350 additional tesa consumer products. Millions of hobbyists and do-it-yourself enthusiasts won’t notice the difference. While plastic for the transparent wrappers was still produced using crude oil as a fossil-based energy source (PET standard) until the summer of 2022, fully recycled plastic has gradually been introduced, and the transition is now complete. The crystal-clear appearance has been preserved through the green innovation, and the protective wrappers are now even thinner. This reduces the material used by up to 20%. The sustainable blister covers – retaining their high quality – continue to make all adhesive solutions look smart on store shelves while protecting them from dirt and damage.

Numerous experiments were needed to achieve a customized mixture of post-consumer recycling materials (PCR). After all, not all PCRs are alike. Different kinds of recycled plastic were tested using varying amounts of recycled material from consumer plastic waste and bottle flakes to make the resulting material as colorless as possible. The final result was a crystal-clear “green” product.

tesa is “Rethinking Material” to reduce the virgin plastics it uses in packaging – meaning non-recycled fossil-based plastics – by at least 50% by 2025. To manage this, quite a bit more straw will still have to be spun into environmental gold.

Film for tower shrink also becoming more environmentally friendly

Not only has the blister packaging produced at the Offenburg tesa plant become more sustainable, but so has all the shrink film needed to package industrial products. Starting in the spring of 2023, this will no longer be made of the conventional 100% PE standard. Instead, 50% of it will come from PE-PCR, i.e. recycled plastic. The films mainly used for shrinking roll packs would have poorer shrink properties, so that a stable fully automatic process could not be guaranteed. This poses the risk of defects such as holes. 

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On course:

With its sustainability targets, tesa is in step with the times. Within the context of the Green Deal, the EU Commission is currently proposing additional new packaging regulations. These are intended to reduce the demand for primary raw materials, increase Europe’s recycling capacity and minimize its dependence on primary raw materials and suppliers from non-European countries. Ultimately, everyone wants to avoid the nearly 50 percent increase in plastic packaging waste that is projected to accumulate in the EU by 2030 unless countermeasures are adopted. 

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