How Sustainable Label Printing Enhances Brand Value and Environmental Responsibility

Sustainability In Label Printing Aligning Your Brand With Eco-Friendly Practices

As environmental concerns continue to gain prominence among consumers, businesses that adopt sustainable practices are better positioned to meet customer expectations and enhance their brand reputation. Embracing eco-friendly practices can differentiate your brand and attract a growing demographic of environmentally-conscious consumers. 

For over two decades, we have been actively cultivating relationships with top sustainable material vendors, enabling us to provide our clients with the latest impact-conscious labeling options. Our primary goal is to present our customers with choices that enable them to offer a competitive product and prioritize environmental preservation.

We pride ourselves on partnering with suppliers who offer lightweight, sustainable materials at competitive market rates. Our materials are carefully selected to help reduce energy consumption by up to 33%, carbon consumption by up to 32%, and water consumption by up to 28%.

Currently, we offer a range of sustainable label options that can assist you in achieving your sustainability goals. These options include wash-off adhesives exceeding industry standards, bio-based substrates, 90% PCR liners, and face materials in clear, white, and metalized variations.

As awareness of environmental sustainability grows worldwide, consumers are more inclined to support brands that mirror their ecological values. A Statista report shows that 74% of U.S. adults are concerned about environmental issues, increasing to 82% among millennials. By adopting sustainable label printing, businesses can align with these values, boosting their brand image and attracting environmentally conscious consumers.

This guide will inform you about the newest sustainability practices in label printing and how you can implement these tips in your business. 

Importance of Sustainability in Label Printing

Sustainability and environmental awareness have recently become critical themes across various industries, with label printing emerging as a front-runner in adopting eco-friendly practices. The commitment to sustainable label printing is pivotal, as it protects the environment and bolsters a business’s reputation and long-term viability.

Label printing plays a vital role in product identification and branding. Historically, however, this industry has leaned on less than eco-friendly practices, such as using non-recyclable materials, consuming excessive amounts of energy, and employing harmful chemicals. 

Environmental Impact of Traditional Label Printing

A major issue with conventional label printing is its heavy reliance on natural resources. The process of producing labels demands significant quantities of water, energy, and raw materials like paper and ink, often sourced or produced through methods that harm the environment, leading to deforestation, pollution, and increased carbon emissions.

The paper utilized in label-making is frequently derived from trees specifically felled for pulp, causing deforestation and habitat loss. Plus, the disposal of label waste contributes to the growing problem of non-biodegradable materials in landfills, complicating waste management efforts.

Another environmental issue with traditional label printing is using petroleum-based inks and coatings that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere. These VOCs degrade air quality and pose significant health risks to humans. Additionally, the production and disposal of these inks create toxic waste that can contaminate waterways and soil, threatening ecosystems and wildlife.

In response to these concerns, the label printing industry has seen innovations such as digital label printing, which uses digital files to print directly onto substrates. This technology eliminates the need for printing plates and reduces waste, offering enhanced flexibility and less resource consumption.

The industry is also shifting toward using environmentally friendly materials and inks. Recycled paper, soy-based inks, and water-based coatings are increasingly used to lessen label production’s environmental impact. 

Carbon Footprint of the Label Printing Industry

Every day, countless products reach store shelves, each adorned with labels that enhance brand visibility, convey crucial information, and draw in consumers. However, like many other sectors, the label printing industry contributes to environmental concerns through its carbon footprint.

The label printing industry’s carbon footprint includes direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions from the entire lifecycle of label production—from the extraction of raw materials to manufacturing, transportation, and disposal. Although labels are small components compared to other products, their environmental impact is significant.

A major source of carbon emissions in label printing is using fossil fuels in energy-intensive operations such as running printing presses and other manufacturing equipment. These processes typically consume large amounts of electricity, often generated from non-renewable energy sources, leading to substantial emissions that exacerbate the industry’s carbon footprint.

The label printing industry relies heavily on raw materials derived from fossil fuels, including petroleum-based inks and adhesives. The extraction and processing of these materials release greenhouse gases across their supply chains, contributing further to the environmental impact.

Benefits of Eco-Friendly Practices in Label Printing

Aside from the environmental benefits, eco-friendly label printing also offers economic advantages. In a consumer-driven market, eco-friendly practices can differentiate a company from its competitors, increasing brand loyalty. Plus, the growing demand for eco-friendly products and packaging creates opportunities for businesses to tap into new markets and broaden their customer base.

Eco-friendly label printing can also provide long-term cost savings for businesses. Switching to energy-efficient machinery, for example, can reduce energy consumption and lower electricity bills. Sustainable practices like reducing ink and material waste can save costs and enhance process efficiency. These savings can be reinvested into other business areas, contributing to overall growth and sustainability.

Types of Sustainable Materials Used in Labels

Manufacturers can reduce the demand for virgin paper and the associated deforestation by using post-consumer waste and discarded paper. Recycled paper labels have a lower carbon footprint and divert waste from landfills.

Another eco-friendly option is plant-based materials. Materials like bamboo, sugarcane, and corn are renewable resources that can be used to create biodegradable and compostable labels. These labels eliminate harmful chemicals and toxins in traditional labels and break down naturally, reducing waste and pollution. 

Recent technological advancements have led to bioplastics developed from renewable resources like plant starch or corn. These bioplastic labels possess similar characteristics to traditional petroleum-based labels but with a considerably reduced environmental impact. They are designed to be either compostable or recyclable.

Of the plastic we use, 72%, ends up in landfills, according to a 2022 report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. For those looking to avoid plastic, various fabric labels are available. Cotton, hemp, and linen are natural, renewable, and biodegradable materials that do not contribute to microplastic pollution or persist indefinitely in the environment. 

By opting for labels made from recycled paper, plant-based materials, bioplastics, or natural fabrics, companies can showcase their dedication to sustainability and help foster a more environmentally friendly future.

Eco-Friendly Practices in Label Printing

Many printing companies invest in advanced technologies and equipment that consume less energy and minimize waste. These include high-speed printing machines that require less power and digital printing techniques that eliminate the need for plates and setup materials. By reducing energy consumption, businesses reduce their carbon emissions and save on operational costs.

Some companies are embracing digital label printing to reduce their environmental impact further. Digital printing eliminates the need for traditional printing plates, reducing the use of chemicals and material wastage. It also allows for customization and shorter print runs, minimizing unnecessary production and waste. Digital printing offers an excellent solution for businesses seeking sustainable label printing without compromising quality or creativity. 

An often-overlooked aspect of eco-friendly label printing is responsible waste management. At Epsen Hillmer, we recycle cardboard and film waste, and other printing companies are implementing this practice, too. By prioritizing waste reduction and recycling, companies ensure that even the smallest elements of label production align with their environmental commitment.

Final Thoughts

Aligning your brand with sustainable label printing practices does more than just serve the environment. These practices strengthen your brand’s appeal and help it stand out on the store shelves. At Epsen Hillmer Graphics, we’re dedicated to leading the way with innovative, eco-friendly solutions that meet modern demands. By choosing materials and methods that minimize our ecological impact, we help our clients align with consumer expectations and contribute positively to their brand and the planet.

Contact us today to see how we can help you achieve your sustainability goals.

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