One of the main aims of sustainable development is to preserve the environment for future generations with as little change as possible. As label manufacturers, we have a responsibility not only to make our operations more sustainable but to also ensure that our products complement our customers' environmentally friendly packaging solutions. To ensure this, we carefully choose our suppliers. One of the leading manufacturers and suppliers of self-adhesive labels and materials for Label Design is Avery Dennison. We have joined forces with them not only for production, but also to create this article in which we will introduce the trends surrounding the use of sustainable materials in label production and printing. The requirements for sustainable development in manufacturing are changing rapidly and are also being applied to the packaging and printing industry. The increasing demand for more sustainable packaging has also influenced material manufacturers who are against this trend. Solutions are coming to market that help customers fulfil their sustainability goals through more environmentally friendly materials.
The term Ecodesign is becoming increasingly popular. The Ecodesign of products is an essential factor in product strategy. It is a preventive approach to designing products that gives special consideration to the environmental impacts of products while maintaining their functionality. In fact, for a range of energy-related products, energy savings and a reduction in their environmental impact can only be achieved through better designs or by changing the materials used in their production. This leads to economic savings for businesses and end consumers alike.
The first issues are environmentally friendly materials, recyclable packaging, safe paints and plastics, and resource-saving production. Sustainability has become an important focus and a way to add value for businesses. Suppliers are responsible for reflecting these objectives and helping meet environmental goals through the materials they use.
Legislators have responded to these trends with legislative norms that favor the use of modern materials, while imposing taxes on old standard materials. A specific example is the mandatory use of at least 25% of recycled material in PET bottles, or the so-called "plastic tax", in many European countries.
Manufacturers of paper materials often question the origin of the wood used in the production of their products. They want to know whether it was harvested environmentally by the supplier, and whether the entire production process is environmentally sound. Paper is a renewable raw material, but the land and forests involved in its production must be carefully managed. FSC certification focuses on the quality of forestry and the quality of the chain of custody. These qualities are becoming one of the important decisive factors for end consumers. That is why we offer labels from materials with FSC certification as a matter of course.
Materials with Recycled Material Content
Eco-friendly materials are those in which a proportion (15-100%) of the base material is made from recycled material. Original products are recycled, and the recycled material becomes part of the new material. This is exactly how the circular economy works. You can find many of these materials in our product offering from Avery Dennison. Thanks to modern recycling processes, in addition to paper materials with recycled content, we can also offer film materials which have been recycled through a chemical method - pyrolysis (the thermal decomposition of substances without oxygen).
Materials from Organic Waste and Renewable Resources
We also use materials which were made using organic additives to produce our labels. The waste from the production of organic food does not need to end up in a landfill. We use materials with an admixture of ingredients such as grass, barley, cork, pressed grapes, or sugar cane. Thanks to the specific coloring related to the raw materials used, the labels have a natural and truly unique look. These materials are therefore a wonderful choice for ecological re-branding. Foil labels made from renewable resources are another popular material for producing labels. These materials have identical properties to ordinary materials and, in addition, are fully compostable.
The production of materials that reduce the consumption of primary resources (e.g., oil or cellulose) is less environmentally damaging than conventional materials. These materials use fewer resources, produce less waste, and have a significantly lower environmental footprint. An example is the switch from standard PE film to modern MDO material, which results in reductions of 39% of electricity, 82% of water, and 74% of CO2 emissions during its production.
Materials that Enable Recycling
With Ecodesign it is also important to ensure that a product or packaging can be recycled easily and economically at the end of its life. An example of this is CleanFlakeTM, which enables the clean recycling of food-grade PET packaging into rPET. This material allows the separation of contaminants from PET flakes without additional investment in the recycling process and allows for the economical recycling of materials. The result is a high-quality recyclate that complies with the previously mentioned 25% recyclate legislative obligation for PET bottles.
There are also materials that can be washed with various solutions for returnable packaging and materials under the mono-material approach. Materials with removable adhesives are also a popular choice for consumers.