This coming IPM, VanDerEng plans to introduce its new products internationally. Under the brand name Green Core, the company is presenting a series of new plug and slot labels consisting of a core of recycled material enclosed in an outer layer of virgin plastic. The result is a considerably lower footprint, while the mechanical properties have remained the same.
We speak to Peter du Crocq and Jeffrey Daalhuizen, account manager/commercial manager at the Heemskerk-based producer of labels and tags. According to them, the development of Green Core is a logical step in the further sustainability of the product and also in the direction of where "we" want to go as an industry.
Step by step
In the past, all productions at VanDerEng were made from virgin material. Then, VanDerEng started reusing its own residual waste (zero waste), followed by the use of PCR (post-consumer recycled) in 2020. Recovering and using residual steam from its own industry is yet another new step in this development.
Recycled PE is used for the core, while virgin PE is used for the exterior. This virgin layer is needed because the recycled material is variable - but generally dark - in color. In order to still obtain a material with a light color and, more importantly, which is easy to print on, an exterior of virgin was chosen. The fact that this is a recycled film remains clearly visible due to small irregularities. However, these small irregularities are so small that the printability is the same as virgin material.
VanDerEng has been a partner of the Circular Plastics Alliance for some time. The idea for Green Core originated here indoors. The core will be sourced from the Circular Plastics Alliance and incorporated into the Green Core material as a core by a Dutch film manufacturer. The first test samples could already be seen at last year's FlowerTrials, 'as we speak' the material is available in a thickness of 150 and 250 micrometers (mu). Trench labels in that thickness are flexible and ideal for tree nurseries, for example, but too thin to serve as plug labels. During IPM, Green Core will also see the light of day in the 400 mu film. The stick-in labels will be made from this film.
The 150/250 mu version consists of 43% recycled material. As the material becomes thicker, the proportions change; the thicker 400 mu material will contain around 85% PCR. An additional advantage of the partnership with the Circular Plastic Alliance is that from this network, the used labels can be collected again, together with other packaging materials, to be reused in 'new' recycled films. In other words, it is theoretically endlessly recyclable with a much lower environmental impact.
Better and cheaper
Peter and Jeffrey are convinced of the possibilities, and with Green Core, from which numerous products can be die-cut, they have something unique in their hands. Challenges for the future they see are getting the material even tighter (read: even less unevenness) and adding multiple colors. Light mint green is the new white, so to speak. Colors from this base color are possible, but these colors will differ slightly from the existing colors in virgin. The single biggest advantage of Green Core, however, is that this material is no more expensive than the currently common labels. As with almost everything else, the prices of recycled plastics have risen alarmingly in recent times. Nevertheless, a Green Core label is 8% cheaper than a label made of virgin material.
The bulk of production at VanDerEng consists of pot stick labels, lock labels, and labels with tags. They also have a variety of articles for the events market, such as wristbands and tokens. Since last year, those items too, which incidentally are all produced on-site in Heemskerk, are made from recycled material. This brings the ultimate goal, as stated in the Environmental Challenge 2025 program, a path to zero waste mapped out by the company, another step closer.