Design for Recycling, Sustainability, Circular Economy

Perfectly recyclable Sleeve packaging

19/04/2022 | 2 min read
Amber Augustus

Plastic cups are used as packaging for many foods. That should come as no surprise, since the cups are lightweight, shatterproof, and extend the shelf life of their contents by protecting them from light and oxygen as effectively as possible. However, environmentally conscious consumers have to grapple with the fact that a huge amount of packaging material is discarded as waste every day. For these resources to stay in circulation, allowing them to be used again and again, the recyclability of packaging solutions is crucially important.

Sleeved cups: combination of materials provides maximum recyclability

Sleeve packaging solutions make a positive impression due to their attractive appearance, pleasant feel, and wide variety of finishing options. In addition, shrink-wrap solutions are the decoration of choice for unusual packaging shapes, allowing products to be encased in a variety of ways and producing an outstanding visual impact from top to bottom. When the right steps are taken, sleeve packaging is also ideal for recycling. Because the plastic cup under the sleeve is white or transparent, it can be recycled very effectively, yielding high-quality recycled material. To take full advantage of this potential, choosing the best possible material combination for the sleeve and plastic cup is crucial.

Greiner Packaging opts for PP cups with PO sleeves

Greiner Packaging now produces PP cups with sleeves made of PO (a material composition with constituents such as PP and PE). There is a simple reason why it has chosen this solution. When the PP cup enters the PP recycling stream, the plastic cup’s components are subjected to various sorting processes in the PP stream and the PO sleeve’s components are directed to a separate stream. If relatively small remnants of the PO sleeve remain attached to the PP material, the impact on the material stream is minor.

In Europe, many customers currently use oriented polystyrene (OPS) as their sleeve material. OPS sleeves can also be easily separated from PP cups in the recycling process using standard methods. But because PO has similar properties to PP, it has the advantage of contaminating the material stream to an even lesser extent than OPS (for instance, if the sleeve is not properly separated from the cup).

That is why it is our material of choice for sleeves.

Anita Gruber, global circular economy project manager at Greiner Packaging

Zipper allows for easy separation of cup and sleeve at home

If consumers nonetheless want to be absolutely sure that all components enter the right stream from the outset so they can be recycled as effectively as possible, they can easily play their part. Thanks to a simple tear-off system similar to a zipper, the sleeve can be detached from the cup in seconds, meaning the two components can be disposed of separately in household recycling.

Thanks to Greiner Packaging's solutions, every effort is taken to maximize sortability, allowing high-quality recycled material to be obtained. Packaging solutions can therefore be produced from the best recycled material again and again. Good for the product and good for the environment.

More information on recyclable Sleeve packaging you can find here.

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