Peeling the labels off beer cans

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by heymikew, Mar 7, 2023.

  1. heymikew

    heymikew Pooh-Bah (1,999) Mar 18, 2011 California
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    While aluminum beer cans are recyclable, the plastic beer labels glued onto them are not. How many people take time to peel off the label before recycling? Some breweries admonish drinkers to peel off their label.

    I've found most labels peel off easily. However some are glued on tight and there's a sticky residue left on the can after peeling. I don't know if this is due to excessive adhesive or a different type of adhesive.

    Our taproom encourages customers to apply artful can labels on the walls in the bathroom as wallpaper. Many places use can label wallpaper. Our local brewery maintains an archive of labels from all their canned beers on the men's room walls...
     
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  2. colts9016

    colts9016 Pooh-Bah (2,685) Jul 2, 2007 Idaho
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    I have peeled almost all the labels off the beers I have reviewed. Some of the Artwork is wild to mild. I soaked labels, then pressed them flat under release film to get them to stick to the poster board flat. A few of the labels have been stuck on with gorilla glue, just an opinion on that, and catastrophically destroyed the labels trying to take them off. I do not care what a brewery thinks of me taking the label off. I know when I am older many of those will not exist and it is memories for me, good or bad.
     
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  3. Giantspace

    Giantspace Pooh-Bah (2,757) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah

    I do, started about a year ago when I was told the can won’t recycle with the plastic label glued on or heat wrapped on. Mine go direct to the trash. Why not use paper? I get buying painted cans is probably too much $ for small places and it’s easy to stock labels in but from what I’m told not friendly to the earth.

    Enjoy
     
  4. Giantspace

    Giantspace Pooh-Bah (2,757) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah

    You are using admonish wrong in this case. I think the op is using it as the definition of advise or urge, not the definition you are thinking.

    Enjoy
     
  5. mactrail

    mactrail Grand High Pooh-Bah (6,843) Mar 24, 2009 Washington
    Super Mod Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    I started peeling labels off maybe a year ago, as I wanted to save a couple favorites. Then I checked out the art supply store and got a couple of sketch books. Lots of different sizes, this one is 7 X 10 inches. Fits the usual full wrap 16 oz can label, or sections if you like cutting them up. I find most peel pretty well, though a shot of very hot water in the can will loosen up the stubborn ones.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. mactrail

    mactrail Grand High Pooh-Bah (6,843) Mar 24, 2009 Washington
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    Thanks for starting this discussion. Seems like so much effort goes into beer labels-- and this sticky can label technology enables all kinds of small breweries to do artistic packaging.
     
  7. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Grand High Pooh-Bah (7,210) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
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    The temperature required to melt aluminum will burn off the label, so it's a non-issue.

    That said, if one really wants to remove the label, fill the can with hot water. Let it sit for a couple moments. The glue will relax, allowing for easier removal, as well as providing a stickier substance for any possible future reapplications.

    Kids. My lawn.
     
  8. mactrail

    mactrail Grand High Pooh-Bah (6,843) Mar 24, 2009 Washington
    Super Mod Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    You would think. I haven't found a scientific answer, but this is one typical analysis:

    “When these aluminum cans are melted down for recycling, the labels are burned off and can cause equipment issues, hazardous emissions, impurities in the molten aluminum and other problems.

    Currently the numbers of these types of cans in the overall mix are low enough that it isn’t causing a huge problem, but the manufacturers trying to recycle this stuff aren’t fans of the labels. They make the job harder and less profitable. And if plastic labels continue to be used more often, they could start to become a real issue.

    So long story short – no, you don’t have to remove the labels, but you’d be doing a good deed if you take that extra step.”
     
  9. bbtkd

    bbtkd Grand High Pooh-Bah (7,104) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    I haven't worried about beer labels. I'll give it a try if it's easy - but won't obsess about it.
     
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  10. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
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    I always peel them off. Unfortunately, the labels then go right into the trash. I too am under the impression that the cans are recyclable, but the labels are not.
     
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  11. UWDAWG

    UWDAWG Pooh-Bah (1,585) Aug 22, 2017 Washington
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    Bottles are feeling left out of this thread! :wink:
     
  12. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,159) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    With a 10¢ bottle/can deposit law here in Michigan, just about all of mine go back to the retailer. For those cans that weren't bought in distro (at the brewery) or come from out of state, if the label is peelable, it comes off before the can goes into the recycle bin. I haven't tried doing that with bottles yet.
     
  13. bbtkd

    bbtkd Grand High Pooh-Bah (7,104) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    I know a guy that before he was well-off, would hoard all the bottles and cans he could and take them to a neighboring state for the deposit, instead of recycling them here. He would no longer need to supplement his income that way, but now it's a habit.
     
  14. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,159) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    Was his name Kramer? :wink:
     
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  15. jageraholic

    jageraholic Maven (1,366) Sep 16, 2009 Massachusetts
    Trader

    Sounds like breweries should stop using the plastic beer labels
     
  16. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    Or maybe Newman? :thinking_face:

    Cheers!
     
  17. beer_beer

    beer_beer Pooh-Bah (1,945) Feb 13, 2018 Finland
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    This is the first time I even hear about peeling off labels from cans, great thread! This could explain I have encountered a few NA beers where the paint felt different, must have been the plastic. Will definitely try the peel-off when possible. One more thing to look forward to :grinning:. May even start collecting them, don't take much place, but must be very informative.
     
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  18. DoctorZombies

    DoctorZombies Grand Pooh-Bah (5,806) Feb 1, 2015 Florida
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    I try to peel most of my cans, and I stick the labels in my beer log book:

    [​IMG]

    I like to save what I can of the artwork and have another reminder of the beer down the road…and I’ve recently thought that I should post a full pic of a removed label vs. on the can just showing a portion of the art…we will see…Cheers!
     
  19. bbtkd

    bbtkd Grand High Pooh-Bah (7,104) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    I used to plaster the lid of my personal laptop with beer labels and stickers until I unexpectedly needed to use the laptop for registration at our Taekwondo tournament where there's lots of kids and parents, and it was to be used right up at the main table in front of the crowd. Some of those stickers were a major PITA to remove in a hurry...
     
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  20. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
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    Are people as consistent with taking labels off bottles as they are taking them off cans? If indeed can labels are not recyclable (and it seems like there is some debate as to whether that is even true), then bottle labels must not be recyclable either, right?
     
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  21. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,159) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    I think historically that labels have been paper that easily burns during the re-melting process, but some breweries use plastic and that may be a different issue.
     
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  22. bbtkd

    bbtkd Grand High Pooh-Bah (7,104) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    Those are definitely glued on, I'm not doing that.
     
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  23. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
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    But if it turns out that the labels do indeed contaminate the load of recycling (again, not sure if that's true or not) would you do it?
     
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  24. bbtkd

    bbtkd Grand High Pooh-Bah (7,104) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    Not if it creates a sticky mess or uses a lot of water. I don't recycle "gunky" bottles that would take gallons of water, such as various hair goos like conditioners or oily sauces. I just can't bring myself to waste water just to recycle, since water conservation is as important as recycling. Same thing with beer labels, I'd do it if they just peeled off, which is doubtful.
     
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  25. NickTheGreat

    NickTheGreat Maven (1,324) Oct 28, 2010 Iowa
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    I had literally never heard or thought about this. Maybe the redemption is why.

    Which I'm secretly glad, I don't need another step complicating my beer drinkiong.
     
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  26. NickTheGreat

    NickTheGreat Maven (1,324) Oct 28, 2010 Iowa
    Society Trader

    In my early homebrewing days, I would soak bottles in hot water and Oxyclean. On most bottles, the labels end up sliding right off.

    Of course this is for reusing purposes, not recycling purposes.
     
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  27. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,159) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    And I think the bottles/cans get crushed when they get back to the distributors' warehouse. Hopefully they get recycled after that, but I really doubt that any distributor removes labels before crushing them.
     
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  28. kp7

    kp7 Zealot (719) Feb 8, 2021 Massachusetts

    I've got the same issue here. With all cans and bottles going back for deposit, I don't take the label off as it has the barcode for the automated return machines. Even when not using a machine, the MA law is written so that places that sell returnable containers only need to accept those brands and package types that they sell; if you wanted to peel labels, you'd likely limit yourself to using only official redemption centers, which aren't always convenient and are allowed to take a cut from your deposit for the service.
     
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  29. colts9016

    colts9016 Pooh-Bah (2,685) Jul 2, 2007 Idaho
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    Your right. After I reread it. I see what you’re saying. Thank you.
    Cheers!
     
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  30. dcotom

    dcotom Grand Pooh-Bah (4,896) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
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    "Seven-Ounce Brown Glass Refillable Bottles: It's Time.™ For The Earth.™"
     
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  31. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
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    Yeah, if there is a need to conserve water in your area then I get where you're coming from for sure. I'm quite privileged not to have to worry much about conserving water. I wonder if there is a substance that easily removes the labels? Maybe you could mix up some combination of stuff that would do it for you. Then you could just a fill a contract bucket with said substance (assuming it was cheap and easy to make) and throw your bottles and can into said bucket. After some period of time, you could pull your naked cans and bottles out and recycle the. I dunno. Just trying to find a way to conserve water and still recycle the cans/bottles with ease.
     
  32. eppCOS

    eppCOS Grand Pooh-Bah (3,844) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado
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    Nice post, OP, I'll give major PROPS and KUDOS to TRVE Brewing, who have started to do a kind of incorporated, perforated, line down the side of their beer cans, so you just tear off at top or bottom, and zzziiipppp, down the can, remove label, and either dispense with or make some cool artistic collage with them. Just sayin'!
    More breweries need to do this.
     
  33. beer_beer

    beer_beer Pooh-Bah (1,945) Feb 13, 2018 Finland
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    Reminds me of when I collected stamps. Did that soaking and sliding off, drying and pressing. May give some beer bottles a shot. Most cans here though have the label painted directly on the metal I think, will not start to cut that :grin:. Out of beers right now, but when the haul soon arrives will check out thoroughly.
     
    #33 beer_beer, Mar 7, 2023
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2023
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  34. MadMadMike

    MadMadMike Maven (1,324) Dec 11, 2020 Florida
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    I take the labels off cans, but, being past the ‘collector’ days of my life, I put outrageous labels on non-outrageous things.

    Like the killer (pun intended) label off ‘Eat The Rich’, from the Extreme Beer Box, now gracing a tub of organic raw fiber.,. of course I remove it when empty.,.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  35. Chaz

    Chaz Grand Pooh-Bah (3,532) Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
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    About a half dozen* local and Minnesota canned-for-distro breweries use the same (or similar) shrink-sleeve. Saves time and sanity, for me.

    Still, the rush to silver bullet cans wrapped with those super-sticky mylar labels has me fondly remembering the old days of glass bottles and the earlier days of recycling.

    *Of our now nearly 300! :astonished:
     
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  36. defunksta

    defunksta Pooh-Bah (2,488) Jan 18, 2019 North Dakota
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    I did not know about this. How sure are we that cans with labels cannot be recycled? If so, I've probably recycled thousands of cans in vain. I have never tried removing a label, but a label book is a cool idea. If this is true are there little men behind the curtain at the recycling plant pulling off all of my labels? Seems silly to say recycle the can while not mentioning labels if that is an issue.
     
  37. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,159) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    Painted cans certainly can't be an issue or the soft drink industry would have told us about it long ago. I can't think of any soft drink that uses a shrink-wrap or stick-on label, but if there are any there likely would be advice on the label to remove it before recycling.
     
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  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    To borrow from @mactrail (post #8) with emphasis in bold by me:

    “When these aluminum cans are melted down for recycling, the labels are burned off and can cause equipment issues, hazardous emissions, impurities in the molten aluminum and other problems.

    Currently the numbers of these types of cans in the overall mix are low enough that it isn’t causing a huge problem,..."

    Cheers!
     
  39. bbtkd

    bbtkd Grand High Pooh-Bah (7,104) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    They're not pulling anything off, at least not labels. :wink:
     
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  40. Giantspace

    Giantspace Pooh-Bah (2,757) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah

    The labels peel off the cans very easy. Just a few scratches to the corner pulls it up and then you pull it off. Some are very sticky and some not so. No big deal to do it for me. No water involved

    Enjoy
     
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