How many labels did you come across today? Although they often go unnoticed, labels empower dozens of processes that allow businesses to operate. Labels facilitate ecommerce, promote brands, minimize work safety hazards, track and manage inventory, ensure safe medication dispensing, verify patient identification and more. And given their widespread use they can be even more effective when used in a sustainable manner. Sustainable labels deliver the same operational benefits as the typical label but in a more eco-friendly way. They reduce the potential contamination of recycling streams, simplify the recycling process and reduce the energy required during the label manufacturing process. This guide to sustainable labeling will help you procure and use labels in the most environmentally friendly way. 

What Makes a Label Sustainable?

There are numerous attributes that make a label sustainable. 

  • Material Selection: The first and most fundamental aspect of sustainable labeling is the choice of materials. Certain label materials contain non-recyclable plastics. If the surface to which the label is applied is exposed to harsh chemicals, solvents, temperature extremes and more that selection may be necessary. However, eco-friendly materials are viable for many applications.
  • Printing Techniques: Sustainable labels often utilize eco-conscious printing techniques like water-based inks or UV-curable inks. These methods reduce harmful emissions and waste compared to conventional printing processes.
  • Adhesive Properties: Sustainable labels use adhesives that are easy to remove during recycling or disposal, preventing contamination of recycling streams and reducing the energy required to remove labels from packaging materials.
  • Environmental Impact - Dissolvable labels combine a specialty adhesive with a water-soluble paper allowing them to easily dissolve in water, without leaving any residue. This makes it easy to reuse containers and eliminates the need for any chemical cleaning treatments.
  • Waste Reduction - Linerless labels do not require a release liner, which is the backing paper that is typically discarded after label application. This not only reduces waste but also allows more labels to be printed on a single roll, minimizing freight costs and the need for frequent roll changes. 

Benefits of Sustainable Labels

Sustainable labels offer a number of benefits starting with performance. If you are converting to a more eco-friendly product, you can anticipate that the label will retain the same level of performance. In addition, using sustainable labels:

  • Enhance Your Brand Image: Consumers, especially millennials and GenZ, are becoming increasingly eco-conscious. Many formulate purchasing decisions based on the steps companies take to reduce their environmental impact. Embracing sustainability can significantly improve a business's brand image. Using sustainable labels can be a powerful statement that sets your brand apart as environmentally responsible.
  • Deliver Cost Savings: Although the unit cost of a sustainable and standard label are similar, other benefits can result in significant cost savings. For example, a linerless label costs less to ship and can increase productivity in higher-volume operations.
  • Comply with Regulations: As municipalities and industries implement stricter environmental regulations, sustainable labels can help you comply with these regulations.
  • Reduce the Carbon Footprint: Sustainable labels require fewer raw materials and production steps, both of which contribute to the carbon footprint.  Sustainable labels contribute to a reduced carbon footprint by using eco-friendly materials and reducing waste. This aligns with broader corporate sustainability goals and supports efforts to combat climate change.

Sustainable labeling is an impactful change that companies in any industry can make to reduce their environmental impact.

How United Ad Label Helps Companies Become More Sustainable

United Ad Label brings over 60 years of experience, strong supplier relationships and an unmatched array of print technologies that allow us to deliver economical, high-quality, eco-friendly labels. We help companies become more sustainable by:

Reducing the Amount of Materials Needed to Produce the End Product

Linerless labels are one way to reduce material consumption. Manufacturers, warehousing and distribution companies, healthcare organizations and more use our Linerless Labels to reduce their environmental impact while increasing efficiencies, and saving money. 

Using Recycled Materials

There are numerous recycled films, face stocks and liners that are effective material options. Using recycled products reduces the need for the amount of virgin materials and the energy requirements to manufacture them. 

Promoting Reuse

Applying sustainable label materials on packaging improves recycling efficiency. For example, wash-off labels improve the recycling efficiency of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) packaging.

Forest Stewardship Council Chain of Custody Certification

Further, UAL maintains FSC Chain of Custody (COC) certified locations. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable forest management. FSC certification requires adherence to 10 Principles of Forest Stewardship that define good forest management. Applied worldwide, these principles are designed to ensure that water, soil, and wildlife are protected as raw materials are harvested and replenished. 

Contact us for more information on how UAL enables sustainable labeling.