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George Nelson

Supply Chain

Labeling Technology Aids Waste Reduction and Packaging Material Sustainability

Customers and regulations are pushing for more sustainable packaging

Published: Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - 11:02

With the effects of pollution and climate change more visible than ever before, it’s clear that changes are needed to minimize mankind’s impact on the environment and protect the planet for future generations. To that end, many industries have made changes to become more sustainable. The packing industry is seeing some of the biggest changes.

Packaging and labeling can play a huge part in the battle for a more sustainable world. Without correct labeling, packaging is often disposed of incorrectly, contributing to waste issues and environmental problems. But, with smarter labeling processes, packaging can become much easier to reuse and recycle.

Types of waste generated by packaging and labeling

Packaging and labeling waste come in various forms, including:

Product waste: This type of waste is generated during the manufacturing process, where excess materials are produced due to inefficient production methods or overproduction.

Transit waste: Waste can also be generated during the transportation of products from the manufacturing facility to the end user. This can occur due to packaging damage, mismanagement, or other issues during transit.

Consumer waste: Packaging and labeling waste can also occur at the consumer level, where consumers dispose of packaging and labels after use. This waste can end up in landfills or oceans, causing environmental harm.

Design waste: Packaging and labeling that are poorly designed can produce waste. For instance, nonrecyclable materials and excessive packaging may lead to unnecessary waste.

Food waste: Packaging and labeling have a great role in minimizing food waste. This type of waste usually occurs due to poor packaging and labeling that fails to protect the product and leads to spoilage.

Companies can take action to reduce waste and promote sustainability in their processes by understanding the various waste types produced by packaging and labeling.

The different types of product packaging labels

There are several different types of product packaging labels. We can generally divide them into four main categories: brand labels, information labels, descriptive labels, and grade labels.

Brand: Brand labels, as the name implies, simply provide information about the brand behind the product, typically with the brand’s logo or emblem.

Informative: Informative labels aim to convey useful information about a product, such as the manufacturer’s name, expiry information for perishable products, and use instructions.

Descriptive: Descriptive labels are similar to informative labels in that they may convey use or storage instructions, but tend to be less detailed.

Grade: Finally, grade labels provide information about a product’s features, quality levels, and ratings according to regulatory authorities or other relevant organizations.

These labels and packaging materials can be made from a wide range of materials, such as plastic, paper, pulp, and more.

How does labeling technology affect recycling?

Labeling technology can make a big difference in multiple ways to the levels of waste produced in the packaging industry.

Labels that are well made and clear to read are able to convey useful information for much longer than poor quality labels, which fade away or peel over time. Because of this, the packaging remains useful even for extended periods and helps ensure that products don’t go to waste for lack of a readable label.

Effective labeling technology can help to reduce contamination in the recycling process. By clearly indicating which materials are recyclable and which are not, labels can help to prevent nonrecyclable items from being mixed in with recyclables, which can lower the quality of recycled materials and reduce their market value.

In some cases, labeling technology can also help to incentivize recycling. For example, some products feature a recycling logo or symbol that can be redeemed for a discount or other reward when the product is returned for recycling. This can help to encourage consumers to recycle and reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.

Benefits of using sustainable labeling technology in packaging

So, what are the benefits of investing in sustainable labeling technology? Here are just some of the key advantages.

Better for environment: Sustainable labeling technology helps to minimize environmental impact by reducing greenhouse gas emissions waste as well as energy consumption.

Brand reputation: Today’s consumers are more conscious of environmental challenges and are looking for products that are environmentally friendly. The use of sustainable labeling technology can help companies improve their brand reputation by attracting environmentally conscious consumers.

Regulation compliance: To minimize waste and promote sustainability, many countries have implemented packaging regulations. Using eco-friendly labeling technology can help companies comply with the above-mentioned regulations.

Cost-effective: Sustainable labeling methods are also more cost-effective. Even though there are some initial costs, this technology pays for itself in the long term by producing packaging that is much longer-lasting and more reusable.

Efficiency: Packaging that has been fitted with sustainable labels is infinitely more efficient. With sustainable labels, there’s less risk of the labels peeling away or fading over time, ensuring that clear messages and instructions are provided on every product for longer.

Conclusion

Not only can labeling technology help to produce less waste in the world of packaging, but it can also make individual packaging materials and products much more sustainable. And, as eco-friendly materials become more commonplace in the packaging products we use each day, levels of waste and pollution generated by packaging should start to decrease, minimizing the industry’s carbon footprint and forging a greener and healthier environment.

Use of labeling technology can also support sustainability by enabling more efficient and streamlined labeling processes. Automated labeling equipment can reduce waste and improve accuracy, while label management software can track and manage labeling data to help reduce errors and ensure compliance with sustainability standards. The benefits are almost endless, which is why the time is right for businesses to make the switch to sustainable labeling techniques.

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About The Author

George Nelson’s picture

George Nelson

George Nelson is a sustainability consultant who is currently cooperating with Polyfuze. He is passionate about life-changing innovation, and industrial and manufacturing technologies. George loves discovering and sharing new technologies that shape the sustainability agenda. He has written many articles published in various magazines and blogs.