GRN Recycle Talk FAQ

Date: Fri Jan 03 1997 - 04:09:00 EST

Date: Fri, 3 Jan 97 09:09 WET
Subject: Re: Solvents to remove labels (Eric Acha)

January 3, 1997

Dear Eric Acha,

I ve conducted a little research into your question. The direct answer is that, yes there are solvents for this, but what one you use depends upon the context in which you are using it, i.e. an industrial context will be able to handle some of the more problemmatic solvents that will say a municipally-owned Materials Recovery Facility. The problem lies in the toxicity/hazardous nature of many solvents adequate to the job. You don t want to be creating a worse environmental problem than the one you were trying to solve. Acetone, for example, would probably work on most labels bonded to most plastics, but will cause more hazardous waste than you will want to deal with.
The environmentally sounder alternatives have to do with changing the stock used in labels and especially in adhesives. However, if you aren t in a position to influence the front end (yet) I would call the manufacturer of the plastic and get their recommendation for a solvent for the labels (and you should specifically ask after the Context in which their recommendation is appropriate.
Now, generally in the literature, there are some specific nonhazardous alternatives that have been posed, which you might also investigate. One of them is talc; another is very dilute acetic acid; another is so-called dispersants or dispergers (but these are for industrial contexts).

Call the Research Library for RCRA (617-565-3282) if none of these suggestions are relevant, and we can talk further.

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