This Earth Day, we wanted to take some time to reflect on how label material and printing decisions can influence the environmental impact of wine, craft beer, spirits, CBD, and other products.
Many of our customers are working to do their part to reduce the impact their processes and products have on the environment.
One oft-overlooked—but simple and highly valuable—way to make your products more green? Consider eco-friendly label materials.
In the recycling process, labels are removed and either added to the landfill pile or separated into the paper recycling area. If you’ve gone green on everything else but your label, you’re needlessly increasing your environmental impact.
With advancements in technology, the recycled and recyclable materials perform just as well as traditional materials. So fears about adhesiveness, condensation, bubbling, and branding can be thrown away (or, should we say, recycled).
One of our suppliers, Wausau, has seen a rise in demand for products with a more sustainable profile.
“Wausau Coated Products has been Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified since 2008 and currently offers over 85 stocked products and more than 600 catalogs that carry this certification,” said Kelly Kubisiak, Marketing Manager at Wausau Coated Products.
Labels have two main elements to consider when it comes to materials: stock and liner.
For paper stock, the big indicator of environmental impact is PCW, or post-consumer waste, percentage. In other words, how much of the paper is made from paper reclaimed and recycled after consumer use? Wausau, for reference, offers paper face stocks with 30% to 100% PCW.
Labels can also be made from non-wood materials, including cotton, felt, linen, kraft paper, and vellum.
The other factor to consider is the liner. Recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) liner, as the name suggests, recycles plastics to keep them from landfills and oceans and gives them another life. Wausau offers an rPET liner with 90% recycled content.
Combining a green stock and liner can save environmental waste. “We recently introduced a product with 100% PCW facestock paired with the 90% rPET liner,” said Kubisiak.
When you use label paper and lining made from recycled materials like this, you reduce new deforestation; keep hard-to-use recyclables from landfills; and save raw materials and emissions that would go into creating materials from scratch: water, plastics, energy, CO2, solid waste, and more.
If that’s not green enough for you, completely new materials are being researched and developed. “We have a non-wood recycled face material made from recovered agave fibers,” Kubisiak said.
Agave fibers are a waste product leftover from product, and companies are working to harness their natural benefits for greener plastic-like materials. Jose Cuervo started using the leftover fibers in straws, car parts, surfboards, and more.
Eco-Friendly Labels in Action
The misconception of recycled labels having to be brown, stiff, and boring is an assumption of the past. Recycled labels can show off your brand while reducing your environmental impact and building goodwill with increasingly environmentally conscious consumers.
Here are some AWT customers using eco-friendly label materials.
- Aroma Naturals puts a lot of consideration into the pure plant aromas, essential oils, and wicks its uses in its candles. The label materials were chosen with care as well—recycled matte paper made of 100% PCW.
- Chateau Davell takes sustainability seriously. “Bottling by hand using recycled-content glass, labels produced with 100% post-consumer waste papers, and FSC Certified corks helps keep our production and packaging as sustainable as possible,” according to their website.
- Miramonte Winery uses a natural approach to farming and works to have the smallest possible impact on the land. That dedication carries over to its labels, which use recycled natural kraft.
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- Maison/Made’s Lavender Biodynamic Hydrosol is crafted by a master artisan. The label is cotton, an eco-friendly non-wood material.
- Creature Comforts Brewing Company puts a lot of effort into reducing its environmental impact, including solar power; efficient, fully automatic brewing equipment; spent grain recycling, and cotton-based labels.
Companies trying to reduce their environmental impact need to think about packaging and labeling. If you’re interested in learning about eco-friendly labeling options that align with your brand, contact us to talk to one of our labeling experts.