Story | 11/02/2020 16:21:56 | 3 min Read time

Sweetleaf: Enabling plastic recyclability with UPM Raflatac SmartCircle Wash-off

For Sweetleaf, sustainable packaging is another way to act as an environmentally responsible business


  1. UPM Raflatac’s SmartCircle wash-off solution helped Sweetleaf’s brand stay true to their sustainability
  2. Designing packaging with sustainability in mind is essential to supporting the circular economy

Because the company didn’t want to use plastic packaging, their Rocket Fuel cold brew concentrate was offered in glass growlers, which also allowed for reuse.

When COVID-19 hit, the shutdowns had a big impact on Sweetleaf’s wholesale and in-store retail business. In response, Sweetleaf focused on developing their e-commerce presence, which skyrocketed. Yet, they quickly realized the need for new packaging better suited for postal delivery.

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Nick Wagstaff, Director of Wholesale Accounts at Sweetleaf

“With COVID, we moved away from wholesale, and online sales went through the roof. There is no way to mail glass growlers, so we moved toward plastic bottles. We needed to find a way to do it in a sustainable way,” states Nick Wagstaff, Director of Wholesale Accounts at Sweetleaf.

Sweetleaf’s packaging design firm, Topos Graphics, sought out Hub Labels, a printing partner that shares Sweetleaf’s commitment to sustainability. Hub’s Sustainable Packaging Consultant, Matt Cassano, recommended UPM Raflatac SmartCircle™ wash-off materials as the solution of choice.

Cassano states, “I recommended to Nick and Topos that we use UPM Raflatac’s SmartCircle labels because I felt they would be a perfect fit for their application and align with Sweetleaf’s goals to be a sustainable business.”

Label choice can impact the recyclability of plastic packaging. Tyler Matusevich, Sustainability Manager at UPM Raflatac Americas, explains, “Film label materials with SmartCircle wash-off technology use the RW85C adhesive, which enables recyclers to maximize the yield of clear PET flakes. This feeds the circular economy with high-quality recycled PET to be used in new plastic packaging.”


Wagstaff states, “We had no idea prior to our relationship with Hub Labels and UPM Raflatac that a label adhesive could impact the package recyclability.” He adds, “We are excited about where we can take the new plastic version of our Rocket Fuel cold brew.”

At UPM Raflatac, our goals are to enable our customers, as well as the brands they serve, to act on their sustainability goals and to grow their business. Thomas Dahbura, president of Hub Labels, states, “We love that UPM Raflatac has a large array of sustainable label solutions and really puts a spotlight on improving the circular economy. Our partnership makes presenting smarter labeling options to our customers easier.”

Sweetleaf Coffee Roasters

Sweetleaf Coffee Roasters is a New York-  based business with a unique approach to coffee roasting: a perfect blend of art and science. They differ from large-scale brands by importing coffee sourced from environmentally sound farms, with fair wages and ethical work conditions. Sweetleaf’s products are offered online, in retail and via their wholesale network.

Visit their website 

Hub Labels

Hub Labels is a Maryland-based manufacturer of pressure sensitive and linerless labels. They are a landfill-free company and a certified member of Sustainable Green Printing (SGP) Partnership. As an SGP print facility, Hub strives to continuously decrease their environmental impact and carbon footprint.

Visit their website