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272 - Labels are the biggest problem in PET plastic recycling. Is the answer SmartSolve?

About the Guest(s):

Roz Bandy: Roz Bandy is the Vice President of Sustainability for TLMI (Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute). With over seven years in her current role and nearly two decades in the sustainability field, Roz is passionate about environmental leadership. She is also a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, integrating her professional and personal commitment to sustainability and nature.

Alex Abbott: Alex Abbott is an industry veteran with 18 years of experience in packaging and manufacturing. Currently, he is part of the team at Smartsolve, a company pioneering water-soluble adhesive technologies for labels. Alex has a background primarily in rigid plastics and is now dedicated to pushing forward sustainable solutions in the labeling industry.

About the Sponsors:

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Episode Summary:

Join Adam Peek in this special episode of the People of Packaging Podcast as he delves into the world of sustainable labels with two industry experts—Roz Bandy from TLMI and Alex Abbott from Smartsolve. Together, they explore the innovative advancements in recyclable labels and the significant role these innovations play in improving recycling efficiency and environmental stewardship.

In this engaging conversation, Roz Bandy discusses TLMI's ongoing efforts to promote sustainability within the labeling industry. Highlighting recent collaborations with the Association of Plastics Recyclers (APR), she underscores the importance of labels in the recycling process, particularly for PET containers. Alex Abbott details how Smartsolve has developed the first paper label to pass the APR's design for recycling guidelines, a milestone that promises to revolutionize the industry. They emphasize the need for industry-wide participation and innovation to meet rising environmental standards and fulfill corporate sustainability commitments.

Key Takeaways:

  • Impact of Labels on Recycling: Labels, particularly on PET containers, significantly affect the quality and profitability of recycled materials.

  • Sustainability Innovation: Smartsolve's water-soluble labels have achieved a breakthrough by becoming the first paper label recognized by the APR for recycling compatibility.

  • Collaborative Efforts: TLMI's partnership with APR and efforts to educate the industry highlight the importance of cooperative initiatives in sustainability.

  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): EPR laws reference the APR guidelines, stressing the importance for companies to adopt recyclable label solutions.

  • Future of Labeling: The discussion emphasizes the need for continued innovation and collaboration across the industry to improve recycling processes and meet sustainability goals.

Notable Quotes:

  1. Roz Bandy: "85% of the problems in recycling of specifically PET plastic is the label. It can really be detrimental to that recycling process and the end product."

  2. Alex Abbott: "Our water-soluble paper label and adhesive wash off entirely in the recycling wastewater process, breaking apart like a chain link fence."

  3. Alex Abbott: "One of the coolest things about businesses is the invisible hand of the economy; it always finds a way. Our solution is part of that innovation."

  4. Roz Bandy: "Smartsolve has the very first paper label that has ever passed the APR design for recycling guidelines… It's a paradigm shift."

  5. Adam Peek: "A rising tide floats all water-soluble labels. We want to help solve problems, and we want for there to be a greater competitive landscape, more materials out there."


  • TLMI (Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute): Website

  • Smartsolve: Website

  • APR (Association of Plastics Recyclers): Website

  • Adam Peek on LinkedIn: Profile

Listen to the full episode to dive deeper into the fascinating world of sustainable labeling and recycling. Stay tuned for more insightful discussions on the People of Packaging Podcast!

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People of Packaging Podcast
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Hosted by the Packaging Pastor, Adam Peek