CCL Label has unveiled what claims to be the thinnest stretch sleeve on the market at a 30-micron thickness, made of mono-PE and designed to decorate returnable 1-litre PET water bottles without the need for adhesives or heat application.

Due to its elasticity, the sleeve is not thought to require adhesives or heat to attach it to a pack, instead holding itself in place. It is also said to be possible to integrate recycled content into the sleeve, including post-consumer recyclate.

“This extremely thin stretch sleeve was developed with sustainability in mind,” says Thorsten Umek, product manager at CCL Voelkermarkt. “With 30 micron the sleeve is a lot thinner than the ‘standard’ 45 micron sleeves that are usually used. This accounts for efficiency on the material side – a lot less raw material is needed to manufacture this sleeve and thus it helps reduce the carbon footprint of the product.

“We calculated that beverage brands can save up to 32 tons of plastic material per 100 million sleeves – which is approximately the weight of over 5 adult African elephants.”

“Stretch Sleeves have been a popular decoration technology for the German mineral water industry that traditionally has been a returnable scheme,” adds Stefan Schaeffert, business development manager at CCL Label. “Typically, reusable 1 Liter bottles made from rigid PET and increasingly rPET are used – which already is a very sustainable system itself. Now the bottle can have an even lower environmental footprint by combining it with the super thin stretch sleeves that we just launched.”

Back in 2021, CCL Label launched a closed-loop recycling solution for stretch sleeves involving the post-consumer de-inking and cleaning of printed sleeves, which are then melted into pellets and re-manufactured into new sleeves.

This was followed by the release of its floating, low-density polyolefin pressure-sensitive label last summer. The material is said to separate easily from heavier PET flakes through the sink/float recycling process.