What is the Best Eco-Friendly Label?

As with most things in the custom printing and packaging business, there is no simple answer to this question. The Best Eco-Friendly Label depends on many things including the package it is adhered to, the durability requirements, and the end of life use of the package. There isn’t just one Best Eco-Friendly Label for all cases.

The Container Matters – A Lot!

More than 10 years ago, when I was Chairman of TLMI – the leading label association in North America, I wrote a letter to our members opposing a ban on certain adhesives proposed by the State of Wisconsin. The association and I opposed this blanket approach because it didn’t consider all the different types of containers we label – glass, aluminum, paper and more. When possible, it is ideal to match the container material to the label material. This works well with a PET label on a PET bottle. Or a paper label on a paper envelope or box. But on glass bottles and aluminum cans, this is much more problematic.

Special Case – OBRC Beer Bottles

In some cases, we are lucky enough to have an industry that joins forces to create a solution. In the case of the Oregon Craft Beer industry, they joined with the distributor-funded bottle collection system and created a specific bottle that is reusable. This thick-walled 500ml beer bottle is ‘rented’ by the brewer and recovered, washed, and returned to circulation. This program is still in its infancy, but it has great promise. We are proud to be one of the few approved label vendors that can provide compatible labels. In this case, we spent months researching a compatible adhesive and label stock that would hold up in a cold, wet cooler but still wash off cleanly to allow the bottle to be reused. It is a great program, but not every industry has access to it.

RCA – Recycle Compatible Adhesives

Another term thrown around often has to do with adhesives. This stems from the Wisconsin project mentioned above, but it ONLY applies to paper on paper recycling. Think about Avery-type address labels and stamps on a letter. When unclaimed mail is recycled, this RCA adhesive allows the labels and stamps to separate from envelopes in the recycle process without too much ‘gunk’ clogging up the re-pulping machines. These adhesives are very important, but are really geared toward paper on paper applications (they are better than most, but still not a full solution).

The CURRENT Best Eco-Friendly Label

This industry moves FAST. Things are changing all the time, but as of this publication, our best product is from Avery Dennison. Labels have three parts, and all three parts of this label contribute to its overall environmental footprint:

  • Label Paper – 100% PCW and FSC Certified
  • Adhesive – AT20N – complies with RCA standard
  • PET backing – most recycle friendly backing paper

These are all attributes that make this the current best eco-friendly label material. Read about the label stock specification here. Read the RCA compatibility certification. For more details about the material, please give us a call directly.

The Company Matters, too!

Besides the material your labels are made from, the COMPANY making them needs to be a good environmental partner. They need to be honest and fair with employees and customers – and they need to walk the sustainability walk in their own operations. Rose City Label shines in this area. Our recent SGP Certification was reported in the trade press around the world. And our 2018 Environmental Leadership award was a very nice recognition by our peers that we are committed to being a good corporate citizen.

We Can help with Best Eco-Friendly Labels

This information changes rapidly. New products come into the market on a weekly basis. If you have questions, call us today. We are here to help.