by Scott Pillsbury | May 27, 2021 | Beer Wine Spirits, Environmental Green
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.
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.
by Scott Pillsbury | Dec 7, 2020 | Environmental Green
A major label trade magazine -Label and Narrow Web – recently featured Rose City Label in a vendor case study. Read the full case study here on our website. They discussed the reasons and benefits for our move to water wash printing plates. The article is very complimentary to our company and underscores our commitment to sustainability. We previously discussed our move to water wash plates in this blog post. We are proud of our sustainable leadership.
The Plates are Fantastic
Sustainable leadership doesn’t mean you have to settle for low quality products. We are getting massive environmental benefits from these plates, but also getting very fast, clean printing plates on press. If the plates didn’t print well, we wouldn’t be making this move – even with the environmental improvement. The product has to work, and this one does work very well. Our press operators love them and our plate maker has enjoyed the learning process. Read the news update about our sustainable leadership here on the Label and Narrow Web website.
No More Chemicals in Plate Making
For many years, the last remaining regulated chemicals in our business were the solvents used to make plates. This was never a dangerous chemical, but it didn’t smell very good and had to be recycled by a special service. Eliminating this from our building made everyone happy – especially our plate maker that deals with them nearly every day.
Sustainable Leadership Numbers Don’t Lie
Even with the move to water wash plates – our water usage is still going down! Water usage is down 33% in 2020 vs. 2019 despite business remaining very strong. We continue to reduce waste and resource consumption. Sustainable leadership starts from the front – we have to walk the talk so we measure everything and share the results with our team. Everyone is proud to work for a company that is doing the right thing. Our results were shared recently in this post. We feel it is important to share the information so people know we are taking our sustainable leadership seriously.
We Got Great Support from APR
Customers are critical to our success, but so are great vendors and employees. Without the support of our vendors, many of our technical advances would not be possible. In this case, All Print Resources – APR, was a great partner for us in this transition. They shared the case study on their website here. Thanks APR for the excellent support.
We Can Help You Too
Part of our responsibility is to help other people get better on their sustainable journey. We want to be mentors and leaders to other business leaders in our community. If you want to learn more about our journey, or get tips on how to get started, please let us know. We want to help you on your journey to sustainable leadership. There is plenty of opportunity for all of us to improve. Call us today – we can help.
by Scott Pillsbury | Jun 4, 2020 | Environmental Green
We are 100% Wind Powered – and Proud of It!
When we found out our local power company offered 100% clean wind power, it was an easy decision for us. More than 2 years ago we made the commitment and we never looked back. The program was easy to set up, economical, and very effective. We use lots of energy making labels for our customers and it is nice to know that energy doesn’t come from fossil fuels.
200,000 and 300,000 – these are big numbers
Total consumption in 2019 was 191,000 kWh – that’s almost 200 MILLION watt hours of energy. More impressive, is that using the renewable wind power saved the environment from 306,000 pounds – 150 TONS – of CO2 emissions. Check the certificate by clicking here.
Part of a Larger Mission for the Earth
Wind power is only one part of our larger mission to protect the Earth. We also pioneered the use of water wash plates. All of our ongoing sustainability programs are listed in this post and this one. Recycling pallets, plastic wrap, and even encouraging our vendors to send supplies without unnecessary packaging – all these are baked into our sustainability DNA. For all these reasons, we were the first major label company awarded the SGP certification – read more by clicking here.
The Right Thing to Do – And More!
Being a good environmental citizen is something we can all agee on. Nobody wants to pollute or damage the Earth, but they think it is hard or expensive. In fact, it is neither. It is simple to start. We have been building this program over 10 years – it didn’t happen overnight. And, rather than costing more, it costs about the same AND it is a great reason to call your customers with positive news. And, amlost more importantly, it is a wonderful recruiting tool. As our workforce gets younger and more interested in the environment, being a mission driven organization becomes even more valuable.
Thank You Customers and Mentors
We couldn’t have done any of this without leaders that have gone before. Others have paved the way with sustainable business and our vendors have been very receptive to all our ideas. Customers are appreciative of our efforts, but we couldn’t do it withouth people trusting us every day. We take the responsibility seriously and will continue to move forward as a sustainable, family owned company into the future. Thank you for your ongoing support.
by Scott Pillsbury | Nov 7, 2019 | Environmental Green
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.
by Scott Pillsbury | Oct 16, 2019 | Company News, Environmental Green
Excellent Print Quality
The baseline reason for picking a label printer is that they can print excellent, high quality labels for you. If your brand doesn’t shine on the retail shelf, the the conversation goes no further. With flexo, HP Indigo digital printing, and foil stamping and embossing, print quality is a great reason to choose Rose City Label
Flexible and Hungry
Our business has doubled in the past 10 years and we have made great investment in new equipment. Still, we are a small, scrappy company. We are a 92 year old brick and mortar company with a start-up mentality. If you buy the kind of labels we make well, we want your business! Choose Rose City Label for our flexibility and willingness to work for your business. Special delivery times? Specific packaging? Run and hold programs? Rose City Label can offer all those and more.
Best People in the Business
Everyone knows a business is built on the quality of its people. We are too. But more than just talking about great people, we factually and actually have the most experienced crew in the market. With many over 20 years and two people over 30 years with Rose City Label, we have a very experienced and dedicated crew. They even come in on emergency weekends to delivery labels 3,500 miles for a customer!
Nationally Recognized Green Business
Since our County certification in 2009, people choose Rose City Label for our green business practices. We earned a very prestigious certification this year, and the Environmental Leadership award last year. We have reduced our water consumption by 47% in the past 5 years!
Family Business Values
We are still locally owned and operated. We are a family business first and foremost. Many of our employees have relatives in the business and that makes us a family not just a business. Our roots are deep and this long-term perspective helps us do the right things for our customers.
Call Us Today!
For all the reasons listed above, people choose Rose City Label more and more each week. Our customer list continues to grow and we are very thankful for that. Want to learn more? Call us today at 503-777-4711.
by Scott Pillsbury | Nov 20, 2018 | Beer Wine Spirits, Company News, Environmental Green, Label News
Rose City Label Recognized with TLMI Environmental Leadership Award for 2018
Rose City Label won the Environmental Leadership Award at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the top label printers in America. This Environmental Leadership Award is given annually to one printer and one supplier based on judging the association environmental community. The award recognizes specific programs, demonstrated results, and a cultural commitment to the environment. We are very honored to join the list of past winners and we will never stop on our eco-friendly journey. This year, the awards were renamed in honor of Calvin Frost – a true environmental leader in the printing industry. There is nothing better than a cold frosty beer from our customer in the commemorative ‘Frosty 2018’ mug.
Trying hard and having commitment are important, but for the TLMI Environmental Leadership Award, results matter:
- Five Year Water Reduction of 47%
- Five Year Natural Gas Reduction of 43%
- Small reductions in Garbage and Electricity as well
All measures are indexed to manufacturing output as our business has grown considerably in the past 5 years. Complete details and annual graphs of these measures can be found in this blog post.
Small Things that Every Business Can Apply
Besides these dramatic results, the committee was impressed with the programs and projects the company has championed. These include:
- Encouraging employee bicycle commuting
- Providing excess pallets for employee home garden projects
- Recycling pallet wrap at the local supermarket
- Giving away excess pallets on Craigslist for local projects
- Shipping via direct courier service whenever possible
- Reusing items in the press room during production runs
More about these innovative programs can be found at these two blog posts click here for part 1 and click here for part 2.
Make Conscious Choices
The final area called out by the judges in this award was a leadership commitment to the environment. This philosophy is baked into the business so deeply that an employee recently lobbied for an electric car charging station – she knew it would align with our values (and with her new car), but also would provide marketing value and would contribute to this award criteria. All team members know we are focused on the environment. Some additional major indicators:
- Conversion to 100% wind power – read more here
- Water wash printing plates – among the first on the West Coast to adopt this system – read more here
- Monthly review of eco-metrics along with financial performance
Honoring the Label Eco-Legend – Calvin Frost
This award was particularly important to us since it was renamed in honor of our longtime friend and vendor, Calvin Frost. Calvin has been the voice of the sustainability movement for decades and his message is finally being heard far and wide in the industry. Calvin’s company, Channelled Resources, is basically one big recycling business. For over 40 years, the company has inspected and salvaged potentially damaged product. This stock would be destined for the landfill if his company didn’t take the time to sort and save the (large percentage) of this material.
Winning this award any year would be great, but to the first ever ‘Frosty’ award winner is even better!
Thank You – Call Us Today
We are ready to help others become more ‘green’. Any success we have is a team effort and we want to help you on your journey. Are you just getting started? Or need some pro-level tips? Please call us today. If you buy labels, that is fantastic, but we will help any business with a true desire to learn and grow in their eco-journey. Cheers!