When choosing a product in a store — a box of fruit, a bottle of shampoo or a can of paint — labels matter. A label tells us what the package includes, what the product is for and how it was produced. Without labels, it would be impossible to differentiate one product from another or even convey basic information to consumers. Labels also affect the way the product looks and stands out in the store. Ultimately, the decision to buy or not buy a certain product comes down to the label.
Despite labels being everywhere, we rarely pay much attention to their impact on our environment. For many, they are an integral part of packaging, which unfortunately means that labels tend to share the same fate as the rest of packaging waste. Hence, labels create a sizeable but too often unseen waste stream. As part of a package, they are dumped in landfills, incinerated or washed off in the recycling process.
Mismatching labels and packages can significantly impact the sustainability of packaging. For example, the wrong label on a plastic PET juice bottle can reduce the recycling yield, adding to the waste problem our planet is facing. With the simple choice of the right kind of labelling, brand owners can significantly reduce the lifecycle environmental impact of their products.