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Sustainable Labelling: Why Your Label Material Matters

Sustainability and eco-friendliness are at the forefront of many consumers minds these days. When we consider sustainable products, we often think about the products themselves and how they are produced. Many of us don’t take into consideration the labels that are used on products when thinking about sustainability. From your labelling machinery to the adhesive used to stick to your packaging, every part of your label process impacts your brands sustainability. Suitability should always be at the forefront of your label decisions, but sustainability can come in as a close second. Sometimes this means making some compromises in order to balance sustainability and performance for your labels. In this guide, we are focusing on label materials and why they are so vital when it comes to sustainable labelling.

Label Stocks And Adhesives

Sustainable materials cover a wide range of aspects. Using materials made from recycled content is a great start, as is using materials from renewable sources. You should also be considering whether your label materials are recyclable, as well as your product packaging. Some options for sustainable label stocks and adhesives are:

  • Recycled Content

Paper is a common choice for labels, especially when sustainability is key. Paper labels can be produced from recycled materials and can also be recycled again after use. Paper is easy to recycle because it can be broken down into pulp and then created into a new paper product. Film materials are also a common choice for labels but are not quite as easy to recycle. This doesn’t mean they can’t be, as some types can be melted down and created into more film.

  • Wash Off Adhesive

Consumers often throw product packaging into recycling bins without considering the labels used. Label adhesive can actually contaminate biproducts in the recycling process, depending on the type that has been used. There are now options for label adhesive which allows labels to be removed easily with water.

  • Compostable Materials

Some adhesives and label stocks can be naturally broken down over time, while others cannot. There is an increasing demand for compostable and biodegradable packaging, and labels must follow suit.

Coatings And Inks

All labels feature inks and coatings of some kind, whether that is for the design, product information or added protection. Just like with adhesives, these finishes can impact how sustainable your labels truly are. Inks which are solvent based can release volatile compounds into the environment and compromise recycling streams. It is vital you choose inks and coatings which are more environmentally friendly, such as vegetable based inks.

Label Liners

Label liners are often forgotten when it comes to sustainability. You could design a perfectly eco-friendly label and then counteract it all with a liner which has to go into landfill. Liners carry your labels through the manufacturing process until the label is applied to the product. At this stage, the liner becomes waste, and most liners are not recyclable because they are coated in silicone. There are alternatives out there which are more sustainable and environmentally friendly, and linerless labelling machines are an excellent option.

If you need some guidance choosing the right sustainable labels and labelling machines for your products, speak with our specialist team today.