Startup company Magnomer has developed a unique solution to label contaminants in the recycling process. PET beverage containers are often wrapped with PET-G shrink-sleeve labels. These labels contaminate the recycled PET stream and reduce the quality of recycled PET (rPET) because of their density higher than water and can’t be separated from PET flakes during the sink-float separation step of the recycling process. Thus, perfectly recyclable PET bottles that use shrink-sleeve labels never make it to MRFs, and usually end up in landfills.
Magnomer’s process applies a magnetic ink to the shrink labels. The ink can be transparent or of various colors and is applied with standard label printing equipment.
When recovered bottles reach the processor, they are ground up and as they leave the grinder for pelletizing, a magnet is used to attract and separate out the shrink label flakes. Because magnets are already in place to prevent metal contamination, incremental investments, if required, will be minimal.
“What makes our system unique is its convenience. Recyclers get a cleaner PET stream without significant financial investments or changes in operating procedures. And consumers can simply drop the bottles in their recycling bins or return them for deposit repayments. Also, the need for consumers to look for and remember to remove perforated polyolefin labels prior to recycling is eliminated.” says Ravish Majithia, founder and CEO of Magnomer.
Magnomer has successfully tested their system with label producer American Fuji Seal and a global beverage company in fully commercialized, scaled-up labeling and bottling facilities.
Additionally, Magnomer’s technology has benefits that can be applied for paper recycling streams as well. It could allow materials recovery facilities (MRFs) to cost-effectively use magnets to separate out laminated films, such as chips bags. This would help remove plastic contamination from paper bales.