When it comes to sustainability, the lion’s share of the focus is usually devoted to eco-friendly packaging options, as well as the boxes and containers that will ship them. In the interest of originality, therefore, we’re devoting this year’s Earth Day post to a less-commonly-considered part of the packaging process; the marking and labeling. Yes, although marking and labeling may seem to be a small component of the overall job, they still contribute to a significant amount of waste throughout the supply chain. Below are some ways that small businesses and craft breweries can help reduce waste and save money.

Ink vs. Labels

Our first tip is a pretty easy one: instead of printing the logo and other necessary information on a paper or plastic label, and then adhering it to the product package, consider applying the label directly onto the bag/box/bottle. This method is much more sustainable, because there is no waste created from the discarded backing paper, and it’s more cost-efficient, because instead of paying for two items—labels and the product packaging—you’re just paying for one.

In addition, most leading brands of commercial inkjet printers have recyclable ink cartridges, which only need to be replaced after several thousand codings. Of course, you will need to invest in an inkjet printer capable printing on various materials, such as the Squid Ink Copilot 128. But the one-time investment can save waste in the long run, and double as a great selling point for your eco-minded customers!

Use Eco-Friendly Label Materials

If you still like the labeled look, and the versatility which it provides you (for instance, being able to make a small batch of Christmas-themed labels, or custom labels for a friend’s wedding) there’s no need to give them up entirely. There are now several eco-friendly label options on the market which are made of renewable, raw materials, like sugar cane fibers, coconut fibers, bamboo, and recycled materials. Some eco-friendly label options are even compostable to boot! (If you decide to go this route, remember to investigate compost-friendly ink, too).

Another great option is to use liner-less labels, which produce less waste. Again, all of these are great options for small boutique distributors whose customers value green initiatives and are willing to pay slightly more for them (thereby compensating you for the higher costs).

Use Your Space Wisely

It may sound trivial, but this tip can actually save you a lot in marking and coding supplies, while at the same time reducing packaging waste. Take a look at all the labels or symbols which will be applied to your product, and look for unused white space that could be filled. Many companies use labels that are too large for the information printed on them, in order to make the data more legible for human eyes. However, in the age of automation, many labels and codes will be read by scanners and sensors that do not require as large a size as we do. You might be able to reduce expenses, and material waste, by making your labels and/or packaging only as big as they need to be, and no larger.

Mark and Label In-House

A couple weeks ago, we wrote about the advantages of printing labels in-house. Whether you decide to use labels, or print directly on the package, marking your products in your own facility is a great way to be sustainable, as well as cost-effective and efficient. By cutting out the middle step of shipping products to and from another facility, you’re decreasing your carbon footprint and saving money to boot.

Even better, being able to print on demand in your own facility means you can eliminate the bottlenecks that typically affect businesses when they receive sudden, rush orders. If demand suddenly spikes, you won’t need to halt production while you wait on an outside supplier for a delivery.

Spring forward with SSI Packaging!

As more and more businesses open up, we at SSI Packaging are grateful to have made it through the year, and excited to welcome clients both new and old to our Richmond location. We are proud to stock a huge range of packaging supplies, moving boxes, shipping boxes, mailers, and of course, marking and coding equipment for small businesses across the East coast. Be sure to stop by and see us for whatever your business needs to thrive this year and beyond!

(804) 808-1606