Home / Blog



4 Trends that are Challenging the Shrink Sleeve Label Format

by Donna Wolfe | Jan 08, 2024

The global shrink sleeve label market has witnessed significant growth over the years and gone from a fringe label format to the mainstream. In order to continue its growth trajectory, it is crucial for the shrink sleeve segment to adapt and innovate. In this updated blog post, we will explore four key challenges that are currently impacting the global shrink sleeve market.

  1. Growing Sustainability & Environmental Concerns:

    In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on sustainability and environmental impact. The shrink sleeve industry is actively addressing sustainability and environmental concerns by developing advanced functional coatings, inks, and materials. The right combination of technologies allows for the bottle and sleeve to be recycled together, increasing the potential for 100% recyclability. Manufacturers are also focusing on PET and HDPE clear plastic bottles to enhance recyclability and minimize the use of colored bottles, which are harder to recycle.

    The entire shrink sleeve value chain will need to be committed to sustainability and to embracing all technologies and approaches that are compatible with the recycling process, including the use of perforations designed to encourage the consumer to remove the sleeve from the container prior to putting in the recycling bin.

  2. Competitive Technologies are On the Rise:

    Two emerging technologies pose a challenge to the traditional shrink sleeve label format. First, direct-to-container printing eliminates the need for labels entirely, offering sustainability advantages and personalized packaging options. Second, stand-up pouches have gained popularity due to their reduced plastic usage compared to rigid containers. However, the recyclability of stand-up pouches remains a point of contention. The industry is grappling with the choice between fully recyclable rigid containers and film combinations or stand-up pouches that use less plastic but are not recyclable.

  3. Impact of e-Commerce:

    The rise of e-commerce has transformed the retail landscape and presents new considerations for shrink sleeve labels. While the effectiveness of shrink sleeves in grabbing shoppers' attention in physical stores is well-established, their role in the world of virtual shopping is less clear. In general, packaging now plays a critical role in the ‘unboxing experience’ as products are delivered directly to consumers' homes. Package designers and brand owners may need to adapt their strategies to consider the impact at the point of unboxing on your kitchen table – a new frontier for the shrink sleeve label to make its mark!

  4. Addressing Quality Issues:

    Despite decades of advancement, the shrink sleeve label format still faces quality issues. Challenges such as seaming problems, pre-press and distortion issues, fold lines, and application and shrinking problems persist. Though six decades in existence, the shrink sleeve label is still evolving, developing, and challenging us. Each new film, new ink, and new coating requires us to refine and recalibrate our processes to ensure that we reach and maintain the level of excellence this impressive and versatile label format demands.

Sustainability, competitive technologies, the impact of e-commerce, and quality challenges are among the key factors influencing the future of shrink sleeves. By embracing innovation, addressing environmental concerns, adapting to changing consumer behaviors, and maintaining a focus on quality, the shrink sleeve industry can continue to thrive in the dynamic landscape of packaging solutions. 

The response of the value chain in innovating for sustainability, and the continuing pursuit of excellence – be it on the supermarket shelf, or on your kitchen table – leads us to believe that the growth curve for shrink sleeve labels has not yet peaked!