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Labels made from sustainable materials

Sugar cane - more than just Caipirinha

Sugar cane: important ingredient for many cocktails - or sustainable labels.
Sugar cane: important ingredient for many cocktails - or sustainable labels.
(Bild: Bluhm Systeme + Trafa – stock.adobe.com)

The trend is toward sustainable packaging: More and more consumers are paying attention to avoiding unnecessary packaging waste and attach importance to environmentally friendly packaging. Companies are responding to this by relying on recyclable materials for their products. This includes not only environmentally friendly cardboard packaging or compostable films, but also sustainable labels. Bluhm Systeme, marking specialist and label producer, offers a variety of environmental friendly label materials that are in no way inferior to conventional ones and can also be subsequently printed with variable data by thermal transfer printers.

PE labels made from sugar cane

But back to the label made of sugar cane. The main ingredient in the production of PE film labels from sugar cane is granules made from one-hundred percent sugar cane ethanol. The plant-based PE film can be recycled according to the standard recycling process for polyolefins.

The labels can replace PE labels, as the PE film made from sugar cane has the same properties as traditional PE label face materials: it is moisture resistant and resistant to oils and greases. Since the adhesive used is suitable for direct contact with food, PE labels made of sugar cane are suitable for refrigerated and frozen products or fatty foods.
The labels can be easily processed by label printers. Using the thermal transfer printing process, they achieve excellent print images on the bio-based film.

Grass pellets can be used to halve the amount of pulp in labels.
Grass pellets can be used to halve the amount of pulp in labels.
(Bild: Bluhm Systeme)

Paper labels made from grass

Paper labels are the most commonly used type of label. At the same time, global paper consumption in the packaging sector has risen rapidly in recent decades - not at least because of increasing online trade. At the same time, forestry, timber harvesting and transport have negative consequences for the climate. That's why alternatives are in demand for paper production. A quite promising one is grass. While it cannot completely replace pulp, as an auxiliary material in the form of grass pellets it can reduce the amount of pulp used in paper production by 50 %. Grass paper is fully recyclable with other packaging papers.

Consumers can recognize such sustainable labels straight away. This is because the labels are not scented - but labels made from grass actually smell like hay. They feel a little rougher and the paper is not white, but grayish light brown.

"Grass paper can replace all common paper applications," explains Larissa Solibieda, product manager for labels at Bluhm Systeme. Both permanently adhesive and removable adhesives can be considered. "Since these adhesives are solvent-free, the grass paper labels can also be used in the food sector without hesitation," says Solibieda. When bonded, the gray labels can withstand temperatures from -20 to 80 °C, which is why they can be used in a wide range of applications. If variable data has to be printed subsequently, this should be tested in advance. Because of its structure and gray-green color, grass paper is a challenge for thermal transfer printing, especially when smaller fonts and barcodes have to be printed. However, with the right thermal transfer foil and printer settings, a good print image can be achieved here as well.

Stone labels are difficult to tear and waterproof.
Stone labels are difficult to tear and waterproof.
(Bild: Bluhm Systeme)

Durable labels made of stone

Stone labels can be useful for applications where the labels need to be particularly resistant to external influences. The label material here consists of up to 80 % stone or the powder of ground stones and is nevertheless as supple and velvety as a label made of paper or film.

Stone labels also have a high degree of whiteness. Subsequent printing of stone labels is possible without any problems and the printing result is very good.
"Stone labels are difficult to tear and waterproof. This makes them ideal for applications where the labels can get wet or are heavily claimed," Solibieda knows. But even extreme temperatures from - 20 to 80 °C cannot harm these labels.

Conclusion

Companies that want to do something for the environment should also consider sustainable label materials made from natural resources such as sugar cane, grass or stone. Some of them are comparable to normal paper and film labels in terms of feel and appearance. They can be printed in color using flexographic printing and variable information can be added later. However, which label material is suitable for which application should be clarified on an individual basis.

Free Whitepaper

Learn more about environmentally friendly labels as well as sustainable labeling systems in the free whitepaper "Marking for Future: Making Product and Packaging Labeling More Sustainable" from labeling expert and label producer Bluhm Systeme.

www.bluhmsysteme.com/wp-nv12-20

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Selma Kürten-Kreibohm

Redakteurin, Bluhm Systeme

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