How to make your labels and tags more sustainable

The deadline for the upcoming Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT), which aims to encourage the use of more environmentally friendly packaging, is fast approaching. Whilst there are still many unanswered questions about the tax, it is clear that HMRC classifies labels as packaging products in their own right.

Although the new tax isn’t exactly welcome, its advent has fuelled innovative discussion, throughout the supply chain, on how to reduce plastics and make labels and tags more sustainable.

Labels with recycled content

The PPT targets packaging and labels that contain less than 30% recycled plastics; those with 30% or more are exempt.

In some cases we can recommend trialling new labelling substrates that meet the exemption. Currently most materials with recycled content come at a premium though, so it is important to weigh up tax savings against increased material prices.

The reduction of virgin plastics is just one of a number of ways to improve green credentials; there are many more:

Recyclable labels

  • Compatible materials – ensuring that your label can be recycled alongside your packaging material makes it more likely that consumers will recycle the whole item
  • Removeable labels – removable adhesives make it easier for consumers to separate the label from the packaging for recycling purposes. You will need to consider how you communicate recyclability to consumers though, otherwise your efforts may be in vain
  • Wash-off labels – more often used in the food manufacturing process, wash-off labels can be used in conjunction with reusable tray to reduce label waste.

Reduce labelling materials

Perhaps the greatest opportunity to meet your sustainable labelling goals is to redesign your existing labels and tags. We can help you with this.

  • Reduce label/tag size – often simply reducing the size of your labels can make a difference to raw material usage, without affecting efficiency
  • Change label design – you can work with us to reengineer your label to make the best use of label substrate and produce less waste
  • Maximum labels per roll –maximising the number of labels you can get on a roll means better use of materials, as well as fewer label cores and roll end seals . You can use our roll calculator to work out if you are making the most of each roll
  • Thinner label materials – we can trial a thinner label or tag material which will, in turn, mean more labels on a roll, less label cores and reduced transport costs
  • Review label life – new materials can be trialled to increase the life of a label, such as a warehouse label, to reduce the frequency of relabelling. Conversely, where a label only needs a short life, a lighter material may be sufficient.

Materials from sustainable sources

Piroto are accredited to manufacture labels and tags using approved materials that are guaranteed to come from sustainable sources.

Compostable and biodegradable materials

It’s worth noting that that compostable and biodegradable polymer materials are considered as plastics under the PPT definition, so may not be considered as environmentally friendly.

Whilst the Plastic Packaging Tax is drawing manufacturers down the route of replacing virgin plastic with recycled plastic, there many more ways to look at sustainability.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you meet your environmental goals, please get in touch.