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Gunze launches the Lightest Environmentally Friendly Shrink Film for Automatic Sleeve Applicators


Gunze Limited (Headquarters: Osaka, Japan, President: Toshiyasu Saguchi) [Tokyo:3002] recently announced that the company will launch an eco-friendly “GEOPLAS™ HCX1”, the lightest shrink film for automatic sleeve applicators in December 2023. The product is a polystyrene/polyethylene terephthalate multi-layered product that uses 5% of chemical recycled raw materials with the mass balance approach. The new product will first be launched in Japan and then expanded to the U.S., China and ASEAN markets. The product to be launched this time is the second product after our eco-friendly grade GEOPLAS™ HCT3.

The global shift away from plastic is gaining momentum and bringing tangible changes to our immediate surroundings. From the introduction of paper straws in restaurants to the emergence of pay-per-use plastic bags, the movement is reshaping our daily experiences. Last April, the enactment of the Law on the “Law for Recycling Plastic Materials” marked a pivotal moment, amplifying the urgency of addressing Japan’s plastic waste crisis, tackling climate change, and navigating stricter regulations on cross-border waste imports.

Under these pressing challenges, companies are now mandated to align their plastic product designs. At the same time, consumers are being given a key role by being urged to reduce the release of plastic waste, ensure careful waste separation, and choose certified plastic products. This concerted effort underscores a shared commitment to address the multifaceted problems caused by plastic consumption and to lead Japan toward a sustainable and responsible future.

In response to the above background, Gunze has started to develop a hybrid shrink film that realizes the lightest weight shrink label. This film is not only lightweight, but also easy to use in the shrink label market, and is both environmentally friendly and excellent in function.

The company has established “Promoting a basic policy towards a recycling system for plastics” and evolved a strategy of “Conversion to recycled and bio-attributed raw materials” in December 2019 and declared that 50% of the raw materials used by the plastics business would be recycled and biomass by 2027 and increase the ratio to 100% by 2030. In addition, our core plant, Moriyama plant, will change into a circular factory and to the factory with zero emissions that does not produce plastic waste materials by 2024. In this process, the company will collect own multilayered products and establish its separation and recycling technologies. And then commercialize the products with 100% recyclable raw materials.

Following HCX1 and HCT3, which use recycled raw materials, the company aims to increase the use of recycled raw materials to 50% by 2024 and to supply products made from 100% recycled raw materials by 2030 through the use of these technologies.

The product is a polystyrene/polyethylene terephthalate multi-layered product using our unique multilayer oriented film technology. It is widely used globally as shrink labels for PET bottled beverages, foods, cosmetics, home & personal care products and other products. The product has both polystyrene and polyethylene terephthalate benefits such as excellent shrink appearance, perforation suitability, heat resistance, content resistance and stiffness.

Product outline
Product name:GEOPLAS™ HCX1
Lineup:Thickness 23 micron (Can be used with automatic shrink sleeve label application machines)
Applications:Labels for beverages, foods, groceries, home & personal care products
Sales plan:Aim to sell 500MT in the first year (FY2024)
Sales base:Japan, USA, Vietnam, China
Features:(1) Weight: Lightest weight shrink film for automatic sleeve applicators.
(2) Shrinkability: Good shrinkability. Maximum shrink of 70%, suitable for complex-shaped bottles.
(3) Perforability: Good perforability and Easy to peel along the perforation line.
(4) Use of recycled materials: At least 5% of materials are chemically recycled using the mass balance method.

The mass balancing approach is when a raw material with certain features (e.g., chemical recycled raw material) is mixed with a raw material that does not have certain features (e.g., petroleum-derived raw material) during processing and distribution from raw materials to products. It distributes the raw material with specific features to a part of the product according to the input amount of the raw materials with the specific features.

The mass balance approach-based products require a third-party certification to avoid arbitrary decisions by companies. Gunze has already received ISCC certification in July 2023.

Sample shipments to the Japanese market will begin in December 2023. After that, the company has plans for the start of product sales.


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