Aluminum Recycling with Labels

Aluminum Recycling with Labels

Aluminum Recycling – with Labels

Protecting the environment is very important to us – it always has been.  We take it very seriously when our products are considered to be unfriendly to the environment.  Labels are not ideal on aluminum cans – this is true.  As we noted in this blog post back in 2019, compatibility of the label and the container are critical.  Paper labels on paper envelopes (like our self adhesive postage stamps) is one of the better options, but even in this case, the adhesive can be problematic and build up in the recycle process.


Baled Cans

Our Customers Need Us – They Need Labels

Because many of our beverage customers are small, craft producers, they really have no other choice.  Nobody wants to pollute, but there is really no other viable option.  Printed cans have a 12 week lead time and the minimum practical order quantity is more than 200,000 cans.  This is way too many labels for many of our brewers.  They don’t have the time, money, or space to order that many cans at a time.  Flexible inventory and quick turn times make labels a very necessary part of the business plan.  Sleeves are no better.

Sleeves Have Diffferent Problems

Shrink sleeve labels, which we could potentially produce someday on our existing equipment, are no better.  The shrinkable plastic film is STILL a contamination to the aluminum recycling stream.  AND, they typically have at least an 8 week lead time.  One brewer is ordering shrink sleeves in the midwest, getting them shrunk onto cans in California, and then shipping their brewery in Montana!  This isn’t a green solution!  

Not a Big Problem!

Sadly (for us) this really isn’t a big problem.  Labelled cans are likely less than 1% of all cans recycled in America.  We certainly wish this number would grow over time, because that would be good for our business, but in reality, it is a very, very small number.  All the Red Bull, Bud Light, and Coors cans render the small number of labelled Craft Beer cans meaningless.  And, there is other contamination.

Yes, recyclers would like the most pure aluminum possible, but it isn’t realistic to have perfectly clean cans.  Gum, cigarrette butts, and other waste is in every load of cans that has ever been recycled.  There has to be an allowance for contamination in the recycling process.  There is no other option but to filter out all the waste – including poly labels – when the cans are melted down.  Yes the problem is growing becasue small, innovative crafte producers have this option that didn’t exist 10 years ago, but it is still a very small problem compared to the economic opportunity and creative expression offered by this flexible packaging option. 

Control What you Can

Given the benefits of labels, the choice you can make is to work with an eco-friendly label company like Rose City Label.  We are 100% wind powered, we use water wash printing plates, and have many award winning recycling programs in our business. We were just recognized again in the FTA 2021 Sustainability Excellence Awards

If you need great labels for your canned beverage, at least you have the opportunity to work with a company with a focus on sustainability.  Call us today.  We can help with all your label needs. 

Award Winning Label Printing – Again!

Award Winning Label Printing – Again!

Award Winning Label Printing

Award winning label printing for our customers, again!  At the association’s recent virtual Spring Summit, TLMI announced the winners of the Eugene Singer Award for Management Excellence. One of the North American narrow web industry’s most prestigious and highest honors, the Singer Award recognizes excellence in business management measured and defined by an established set of growth and profitability ratios through participation in the TLMI Management Ratio Study.

Award Winning Label Printing

Thank You Team!

This award is a testament to the hard work of our team.  Every person is involved in waste reduction, efficiency, and accuracy in all phases of the business.  This award isn’t just for one person or department, but for everyone that contributes to our success.

THANK YOU to our amazing team, customers, and vendors for your ongoing trust, commitment, and hard work.

Thank You Industry Media!

Since this is a very high profile award, it was covered by most of the leading label industry media outlets. See the coverage by clicking below:

We also received many kind congratulatory emails from our colleages in the industry.  Vendors, partners and friends all reached out to congratulate us on our achievement.  This industry really collaborates and honors the success of others, even if we are competitors at some level.  Thank you to everyone that took the time to send us an email.

Building on our Award Winning Legacy

Thankfully we have lots of experience winning awards in this industry.  Our team has built quite a reputation in the industry and we are very proud to continue with more award winning label printing.  This quick video shows some of our equipment in action, and summarizes our most recent awards.

2020 Print Rocks! PPI Regional Print Quality and Innovation Award

Click here to learn more about the award, and here to see all the winners in the competition

2018 TLMI Frosty – Environmental Leadership Award

Click here to learn more about this award

2015 Oregon State University Family Business of the Year

Click here to learn more about the award.  Click here to see the video presentation.

Call us today for Award Winning Label Printing

We remain very busy but are always looking to add to our customer family.  If you want to work with an award winning, family owned, eco-friendly label vendor, please call us today.

Vector File Format for Quality Label Printing

Vector File Format for Quality Label Printing

Vector File Format, please!

As we noted in a previous post, all great labels start with great design.  But besides great creative design, the next most important thing is digital file format.  File format is the package or language that your amazing design is sent to the printer. In many cases, a designer can save your label design file in many different formats.  In order to get the best possible printed labels, we must have Vector File Format.

Vector File Format

What is the Difference?

This image from Vector Magic shows the major difference between raster (bitmap) and vector file format.  Basically, a bitmap file format is like a digital photo – it is a grid with a certain number of dots per inch (DPI) in each direction.  Once that image is sized, it can’t be changed without hurting the quality.  Especially when trying to enlarge an image, the stretched image will never look right.  Depending on the specific file, it can look jagged, distorted, or just generally fuzzy.

With VECTOR FILE FORMAT, rather than a grid of dots, the file has specific instructions:

      • Start 1/4″ from the left edge
      • Draw a circle
      • 2″ below the circle, draw a box
      • etc.

These instructions are not specific to an output size – they can be resized, stretched, or changed without losing print quality.

What do I need to know?

The most important thing to know about Vector File Format, is that you have to specificially ask your designer for this file.  Vector Files are also known as Adobe Illustrator (AI) files, or PDF files, or EPS files.  Any of these are basically interchangable.  The specific names are based on the software used to create the files, but in the end they are interchangable to us for printing high quality labels.

Besides sending files in Vector File Format, the next most important thing is to supply all the component parts. If your design includes specialized fonts, placed images, or logos, please include those and send them as separate files along with your main design file.

Confused? We Can Help – Call us Today!

We do our best to provide tools and tips for our customers that want to be deeply involved in the process.  But, we realize that for many people, labels are just a necessary evil – or something handled by another person in your organization. That is fine.  We are happy to train you as much or as little as you would like.  We are happy to chat directly with your graphic designer if that is more useful.  Regardless of the situation, we can help.  Please call us today.

Upgrading Water Wash Plates Again!

Upgrading Water Wash Plates Again!

Help From our Friends

Our printing plates have been made with a water wash system since 2016. We were recognized for our eco friendly business practices for this move. Recently, the machine that makes these plates had an electrical issue. Thankfully, we were able to buy a backup machine from a friend in California. The timing couldn’t have worked out better, and it is a reminder of why the label industry is so special – people really pull together to help each other.

Since we were upgrading to a newer version of the machine, we took this time to clean up the room that houses the machine. Having a clean, bright environment is vital to getting the highest quality printing plates on press.

Quick Delivery — Minimal Downtime

Because our friends already had the machine ready for sale, they were able to get it on a truck within 24 hours. What started out as a plea to borrow a few parts turned into a full upgrade of our system. The timing couldn’t have been better. And, since our production manager, Jim, had worked with the California company in the past and has a very solid reputation, they shipped the unit to us immediately. It pays to have a solid reputation in the printing industry. You never know when you will need help from your friends.

APR to the Rescue

Even with the machine here in our building, we still needed the factory technician to come in from Chicago to help install it. All Print Resources (APR) came to our rescue and helped us get back up and running in record time. What a comforting feeling to have a partner like APR. Check this recent case study in an industry magazine to learn more about our partnership with APR.

Thank You Team

This was a stressful time at Rose City Label, but our team worked together and got the job done – with no disruption to our customers. We have a newer, fully calibrated and optimized plate maker and we are ready to help more customers with amazing labels. Thank your team!

Digital File Problems to Avoid

Digital File Problems to Avoid

FIRST Logo Small

Certified Professionals

Our success at Rose City Label is due to the quality of our people.  The people that do the work in our business every day are dedicated, experienced, and committed to our customers.  Our job – as a business – is to provide them the tools, training, and motivation to be excellent at their jobs.  Part of that effort includes ongoing training and certifications.  In the last year, our prepress graphics team was Level 3 certified by FIRST – the leading authority in our type of long run, traditional press printing.  This certification was largely a review, but also had good reminders about the basic principles of printing, ink, dot gain, and other factors.  All these play into our ability to create beautiful labels for our customers.

Top Graphics Errors

  1. Fonts not included or Outlined.  The font used in a label is actually a separate file that must be delivered with the label art file.  We have many, many fonts on our system, but if you have a very specific font you need on your label, please include it.  Or, as an alternative, you can outline your text.  This basically turns the text into a graphic element so spell check won’t work and we don’t have any way to edit the file.
  2. Images missing or incorrect.  If your design includes a placed photograph or other image, please include the original image. Again, like the fonts above, this is generally a separate raster image file (not vector).  Also, make sure the resolution is sufficient for a clean, crisp printed label.  300dpi or higher resolution is preferred.
  3. Asking for Edits when No Fonts Provided. This is related to #1 above. If you send your wine label without fonts, and outline the text, then we will have no trouble printing your label this year. But, for next year when we have to update the vintage and alcohol percentage, we won’t be able to since we don’t have the required fonts.

More Advanced Errors

  1. White Ink Layer. If you are printing on clear or metallic label stock, you may want a white layer beneath some of the graphics.  This has to be a specifically named layer in the file.  If it is not clearly labeled and called out in the design, the layer can easily be missed.  Depending on the press platform, white layers can be omitted if not properly formatted.
  2. Overprint layers incorrect.  In printing, the inks can often only be laid down in one order.  This is usually lightest color to darkest, but if you are using layers or special effects of one color on top of another, please contact us to discuss.  This is especially true with foil stamping and embossing – it is always down last, so no ink can print over those effects.
  3. Legacy File Formats in Adobe Illustrator.  We are on a subscription program with Adobe so we always have the latest versions of Adobe Illustrator and other front end software.  However, the back end RIP and imposition software that does the heavy lifting is not updated as regularly as Adobe Illustrator so please save your files in Legacy format so they are backward compatible.
Artwork Matters

Your Artwork Matters

We have talked about quality design previously in this post, but by working with our team and following these tips, we can bring your beautiful creation to life.  The design, the prepress, and the printing press all have to work together to get the desired results.  Thank you for partnering with us and allowing us to print beautiful labels for your products.  We appreciate you and the faith you put in our team.