Is your label compatible with HDPE & PP containers recycling stream?
RecyClass publishes new Quick Test Washing Procedures for film and paper labels applied on HDPE & PP containers07 May 2021

The procedures were developed to determine whether on-pack adhesive and label combinations are fully compatible with the post-consumer HDPE or PP recycling stream. They are destined for the label and adhesive industry as well as the recognized Certification Bodies which [...]

These standard procedures were developed at a laboratory scale to allow companies to easily and quickly check the wash-off compatibility of their labels with recycling. The documents describe the steps that must be followed to carry out the analysis, as well as the assessment criteria to evaluate the behaviour of labels, sleeves, and adhesives during the washing process.

As reported in the HDPE & PP Design for Recycling Guidelines[2], any label and adhesive combination must be water-soluble or water-releasable at 40°C to get separated from the packaging during the recycling process. Additionally, paper labels must ensure no loss of fibres during the washing step to avoid wash water contamination and recyclate damaging.

The Washing Quick Test Procedures were developed by the RecyClass HDPE and PP Technical Committees and, in particular, the adhesive and label manufacturers including Henkel, UPM Raflatac and Avery Dennison, that carried out internal testing to validate their feasibility.

In the case of the non-removable adhesives in combination with film labels, they can be tested by RecyClass following a complete assessment according to the RecyClass Recyclability Evaluation Protocols[3], to identify their impact on the quality of recycled HDPE & PP.

Every component of plastic packaging must be considered when evaluating its recyclability. Labels and adhesives are just one of the examples. Making sure that they are compatible with recycling technologies is indispensable in driving high-quality recycling. By ensuring compatibility with the recycling process the quality of the recycled material increases and so does their potential for being used in high-end applications.


[1] RecyClass Washing Quick Test Procedure for Paper Labels Applied on HDPE & PP Containers
RecyClass Washing Quick Test Procedure for Film Labels Applied on HDPE & PP Containers

[2] RecyClass Design for Recycling Guidelines

[3] RecyClass Recyclability Evaluation Protocols



RecyClass is a comprehensive cross-industry initiative that works to advance plastic packaging recyclability and to establish a harmonized approach towards recycled content calculation and its traceability in Europe. Activities within RecyClass include the development of Recyclability Evaluation Protocols and scientific testing of innovative materials which serve as the base for the Design for Recycling guidelines and the free online tool. RecyClass offers Recyclability Certifications and Recycled Content Traceability Certification for plastic packaging.