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Getting the Adhesive Right

When we think about sustainable packaging solutions it’s important to consider every single aspect. A lot of different materials can go into making packaging – sustainability doesn’t exist in isolation, for packaging to be truly sustainable every single part must be eco-friendly. 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.

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. But 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.

Adhesive can also be categorized by the raw materials used to make it. Some types of adhesive are made from natural materials, while others are synthetic and not biodegradable. Although our first instinct may be to choose adhesives made from natural materials, a natural adhesive is not necessarily compostable or recycle-compatible. Similarly, a synthetic adhesive is not necessarily non-compostable. Some natural adhesives are derived from animal proteins, making them unacceptable for vegan or vegetarian products and businesses. It’s important to choose your label (and adhesive) based on your brand’s sustainability goals.

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. Our label adhesive is biodegradable and compostable, but we think that it is important that we only refer to it as compostable.

Is using tree-free material important to you? Do you need adhesive that contains no animal products? Is using labels made from renewable resources important to your brand’s sustainability promise?

We understand how important it is to balance the needs of your customers, functionality of your packaging, and your brand’s sustainability promise.

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 find the perfect label.