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Adhesives Also Need to be Eco-Friendly

It’s important to consider every single aspect of sustainable packaging solutions. One often overlooked packaging component is label adhesive. Adhesive is critical – it ensures that your labels stay in place. But labels use so little of it that it can’t possibly cause problems for sustainability, right? Unfortunately using the wrong type of adhesive for eco-friendly labels and stickers can damage your sustainability efforts. Non-compostable adhesive can contaminate compost, and non-recyclable adhesive can damage machinery used in the recycling process.

It’s also important to know which type of adhesive works best with your chosen packaging materials as well. First, we need to know what types of adhesives are out there.

An adhesive at its most basic is a substance that sticks two materials together. So it makes sense that they’re often categorized by how they form that bond between materials, also referred to as substrates. There are a few different ways a bond can be formed:

  • Pressure Sensitive Adhesive
  • Drying Adhesive
  • Hot Melt Adhesive
  • Reactive Adhesive

Not all adhesive is biodegradable – even some adhesives that are biodegradable may not be good for the environment. Biodegradable can be a misleading term, so first it’s important to note the difference between the terms biodegradable and compostable. Compostable products will break down within the time needed by the composting environment and will not release harmful residues. Biodegradable products have no such definition, and the term is not regulated. While some biodegradable adhesive can be eco-friendly, the term can also be used to imply that a product is good for the environment when it is not.

Both label material and adhesive are specific to their intended application. The first thing to consider is whether your labels and adhesive will work with the rest of your packaging. They will need to effectively perform their designated function, in the environment in which they will be used.

Planning for end-of-life solutions is just as important as eco-friendly production, perhaps even more so. The lack of end-of-life planning for petroleum-based plastics has got us into the mess we’re in now: It has damaged our environment and polluted our oceans. By mixing packaging materials, and not considering customer behaviour, you can inadvertently cause problems for recycling facilities and composters. Despite best intentions, your packaging may still end up in the landfill.

We offer a variety of label materials, each designed to address the needs of different products and industries. Our knowledgeable customer representatives will be happy to help you create your perfect labels.