Labelling Solutions

Labelling solutions for a sustainable future T

he label segment is experiencing an exciting period of transition and growth, as all those in the

industry adapt and innovate as a result of evolving consumer demands. Label printers and converters are already

proving themselves more than capable of responding well to shifting market trends, developing and adopting new processes and technologies to deliver not just what their customers want but also meet the needs of the end-consumer. Such versatility is no doubt contributing

to the segment’s significant continued growth, with research organisation Smithers Pira forecasting in its report The Future of Label Printing to 2022 an impressive compound annual growth rate of 4.1 per cent and overall market value set to reach a staggering $45 billion by 2022.

THE SUSTAINABILITY TREND Undoubtedly the biggest trend of the last year, sustainability has become a key priority for consumers and therefore for retail businesses big and small across pretty much every sector. Beyond catering to environmental concerns, adopting green practices makes real business sense, with a staggering 93 per cent of consumers demanding more of the brands they use to support social and environmental issues according to the Retail Industry Leaders Association. In addition, 66 per cent of consumers are willing to spend more on a brand that has integrated environmental issues into its business operations as reported by Nielsen. The retail industry is therefore under

enormous pressure to re-evaluate its practices and products, from ingredients and raw materials to transport and packaging. In particular, the ongoing focus on plastic waste puts an onus on both brands and retailers and their packaging supply chains to make changes and minimise avoidable plastic use. That said, sustainable packaging is about more than simply opting for a non-plastic substrate. Despite the initial wave of plastic reduction being well underway, consumers’ expectations continue to deepen as they look further back in the supply chain to understand the detail of brands’ environmental efforts. When creating or redesigning eco- conscious packaging, many companies forget about labels. Print-and-apply labels can generate thousands of kilometres of waste each year. Even though ostensibly made of paper, label backing liners carry a pressure sensitive adhesive, usually silicone based and considered a synthetic plastic polymer, which cannot be recycled. For example, in a full-scale production environment, shipping labels alone can

equate to 300km of non-recyclable multi- material backing waste for every million labels applied to a production line. SATO’s linerless range of labels has been created with this in mind and are not carried on a backing paper, totally eliminating this unnecessary waste. If only 0.01 per cent of European companies changed to linerless labels it would save 13,744,800kg of liner

waste – the equivalent to almost two Eiffel Towers. SATO’s linerless labels also deliver up to 40 per cent more labels per roll compared to print-and-apply solutions, meaning less storage space is required and time needed to change empty rolls is reduced, resulting in improved efficiency and reduced costs. Beyond looking at the environmental

credentials of packaging itself, retailers, brands and manufacturers are starting to take a holistic view towards sustainability to address wider consumer concerns, as well as to meet their corporate and social responsibility targets.

FOOD WASTE SOLUTIONS Food waste is one such issue now rising to the forefront of both consumer and brand consciousness, perhaps as an evolution of the past year’s heavy media focus on plastic food and beverage packaging. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation reported that 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally per year. In the UK alone, approximately 45 per cent of all fruits and vegetables, around 35 per cent of seafood, and 20 per cent of meat and dairy products, are wasted by suppliers, retailers, and consumers every year. Labelling solutions can play a significant

role in combating this issue. For example, SATO recently partnered with food services specialist, Comerso, to help stop food waste for one of France’s largest grocery retailers. Comerso and SATO implemented an on-demand, linerless label printing solution that helps the grocery retailer draw consumers’ attention to end-of-life products, increasing the proportion of these items sold before they go to waste. As part of the system, Comerso uses the SATO PW2NX Series portable label printer, which works in tandem with the grocery retailer’s use of the company’s TH2 series printer, enhancing automation and making it easier for retail workers to implement markdowns. The system also features specially designed hands-free adaptor kits for trolleys and connectivity features allowing units to communicate directly to the retailer’s network and database to automate mark- downs for operators. The new streamlined process has successfully increased the retailer’s resale of marked-down items by up to an impressive 85 per cent. By taking a holistic approach driven by a wider view of sustainability, the retail supply chain alongside the label industry, can balance business needs with deepening consumer demands and meet the challenges presented by this vitally important issue, as well as make the most of the growth opportunities today’s dynamic, evolving market presents.

Infographic design by Paul Hewitt Design  July/ August 2019 15

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