Eco-friendly Label Options

The market for “green” consumer goods is booming.  Companies that are prepared with a variety of choices to offer customers seeking products manufactured in an environmentally sensitive manner have a leg up on the competition, and the label and sticker market is no exception.   

Eco-friendly stickers span several categories. 

Recycled.  These products typically are manufactured from post-consumer waste (PCW), and made of materials that have served their intended purpose as consumer products such as milk cartons, magazines, junk mail and other items and would otherwise end up in a landfill as trash.   Products containing varying percentages of PCW are available; 100% being the most environmentally friendly.

Recyclable/Zero-waste.  Labels and stickers in this category offer several valuable options.  One is a kraft paper 100% PCW product that has a natural brown paper look, suitable for labels on organic, natural or sustainable foods or consumer products.  Another is a vellum label, also from 100% post consumer waste.

Compostable.  These products are biodegradable and break down easily.  Labels made from these materials can be used to indicate that the product they are attached to is also compostable and/or eco-friendly, (for example, rainforest safe, GMO, sustainable, or a similar designation).  

Technological innovations in this market have produced some exciting choices for green businesses as well.

  •       Bioplastics.  Moldable plastic materials derived from biomass sources such as sugarcane, wood chips, banana peels, cornstarch, straw, or other organic matter.  They can also be produced from recycled plastic bottles using microorganisms in the manufacturing process.
  •       Recyclable adhesives.  Solvent-free adhesives and coatings that harmlessly degrade in the composting process.
  •       Biostone. A highly durable, tree-free alternative to paper labels, biostone is a stone paper product composed of calcium carbonate (limestone) and polyethylene resin.

There are limitations to these products, though. Most cannot be laminated, are generally not waterproof (although they may be water resistant), tend to be more expensive than the conventionally manufactured counterparts, and are often available only in larger runs or quantities.  However, this market is expanding rapidly as consciousness about the need to reduce carbon footprints increases, and companies would be well-advised to explore the technology and product options and be ready to meet the demand.