What are Eco-friendly Stickers & Labels?

Written by Nancy

Jul 8, 2021

Welcome to TIP No. 1 of my Plastic Free Packaging series!

As a sustainably minded brand and packaging designer, I want to make it easy for brands to design packaging that is eco-friendly. Throughout the month of July, as part of my contribution to the Plastic Free July movement, I will be offering a series of tips on plastic free packaging.

And to kick things off, we are going to talk about eco-friendly stickers and lables. Do they exist? What should you look for and what questions should you be asking your printers.

Stickers and labels are the most common packaging option for small businesses because they are a cost-effective way to print and personalise products and packaging. BUT, stickers and labels are typically made with virgin plastic. Even paper-based stickers have a release liner (the bit you pull off.) This is usually made with a plastic-based coating to make it easy to pull off the stickers.

Can’t visualise what I’m talking about? Check out my ‘Anatomy Of A Label’ diagram below.


Australian Standards Compost Logos

Brands who care about reducing environmental waste often find it challenging to source eco-friendly options. So, let me share a tip that might steer you in the right direction.

The best way to ensure your labels are as low-waste as possible, is to think about the end-of-life of the total packaging not JUST the sticker. Match your label material and end-of-life characteristics with whatever it will be applied to. 

For example: If your packaging is made from a paper-based material such as a box or kraft bag that is intended to be recycled, you’ll want to make sure the stickers and labels can be recycled along with the box. 

If not, be sure to indicate separation instructions for the consumer so they can remove the sticker and dispose of the parts separately.

Example 2: If your package is certified compostable, look for a sticker that is made with paper or a certified compostable material. You’ll also want to make sure the label is made with a compostable adhesive AND compost-friendly inks so it doesn’t contaminate the compostability of the package itself.

When choosing your stickers make sure you look beyond just the facestock material. Ask your printer for more information on the environmental features of the adhesives and release liner as well.

I hope these tips help get you started thinking more sustainably.

Do you have any questions about this? Get in touch to discuss ways to make your stickers and labels more eco-friendly. Let’s talk!


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