Written by Royston Phua, Supply Chain Practice Lead for APAC region at Zebra Technologies
Most printing-related supplies are consumables, including labels and RFID inlays. They’re intended to be used in high quantities and usually reach their end-of-life after a single use. With such inherently short lifespans, these consumables present a great environmental opportunity for businesses to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Here are some of the ways that small supplies changes can make a huge impact today:
The first step of any business review should be to ensure that you are not disposing of labels unnecessarily.
One way to reduce waste is selecting printers that are compatible with liner-less labels, and then only stocking linerless labels. More businesses are adopting liner-less labels because of their environmental and safety advantages. For example, the lack of liner inherently reduces waste. Typically made with silicone, liners cannot be recycled nor burned.
As an added benefit, liner-less labels like Zebra’s 8000D Liner-less Label can be cut to any length to eliminate waste. Without the liner, the entire roll is available as a label, which means that the physical dimensions and weight of the roll itself are reduced. This subsequently reduces the number of boxes needed for shipping, which helps to reduce packaging waste and the carbon footprint resulting from delivery.
When it comes to labels, reuse is not about reusing the label itself but rather the item to which it is affixed.
Barcoded labels are affixed to all sorts of things, including food service bins. While the bins themselves are reusable (after sanitation, of course), the labels are not. Label removal can be time-consuming and difficult. If labels are not properly removed, they can easily clog drains – and this can be costly.
Easily dispersible labels, like Zebra’s 8000D Dissolvable Label, provide a more efficient means to removing disposable labels affixed to reusable items. They are made using a special paper face stock that breaks apart into paper fibres along with an adhesive that dissolves quickly under water.
When it comes to choosing the right label, take a look at how your labelled items are entering and exiting the market. If labelled items are received by another facility within your business, you can maintain control of the disposal of these items.
If labelled items are received by consumers, then you don’t have control over their disposal. In this case, it’s a good idea to purchase recyclable labels that inform the consumer that the item can be recycled, or if unavailable, at least consider using labels that are created from a recycled material.
Take a padded mailer for example. Padded mailers are plastic-based envelopes typically labelled with non-polyethylene labels that must be cut out or peeled off by recipients if they wish to cleanly recycle. The PolyE 4000D Label offered by Zebra, a direct thermal polyethylene label, allows consumers to easily recycle polyethylene bubble mailers because the label and the envelope are made of the same material.
Whether you’re reducing, reusing and/or recycling, every action you take to improve the environmental sustainability of your business adds up. If you’re concerned about the costs of switching to eco-friendly supplies, consider the financial consequences of not switching.
Every reusable container disposed before its time due to a stubborn label, and every plumber called for a sink clogged with label remnants has an impact on your bottom line.
Both businesses and consumers play a part in making the right choices for themselves and ultimately the environment, so make the choice to switch to more eco-friendly supplies today.