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The Zero Waste Shipping Label...Now with High Strength Adhesive

The Zero Waste Shipping Label...Now with High Strength Adhesive

Oct 15th 2020

EcoEnclose is so proud to announce our newly improved Zero Waste Shipping Labels and Stickers, which feature a 100% recycled and curbside recyclable release liner and a new, high strength adhesive that forms a strong bond with recycled paper-based packaging. Read on to learn more about this product line and the improvements we’ve made.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ZERO WASTE, SUSTAINABLE SHIPPING LABEL

In early 2019, EcoEnclose was thrilled to launch our Zero Waste Liner labels and stickers.

All label and sticker release liners contain a heavy silicone or poly-based coating that give the required release properties. This makes standard liners virtually impossible to recycle (the silicone has to be stripped out with special machines in order to recycle the paper). They are also made with virgin paper, making them an incredibly wasteful single use item.

The Zero Waste Liner changed all of this. These innovative release liners - which are part of every single shipping label and sticker in the world - are made with 100% post consumer waste and contain no silicone or poly coating, making them readily curbside recyclable.

EARLY CHALLENGES WITH THE ZERO WASTE LABEL

But new innovations are rarely perfect right away. One challenge we faced with this line is that the adhesive did not always form a strong bond, particularly with paper mailers or shipping boxes that are made with 100% recycled content. In fact, we have found that most shipping labels - such as UPS’s free direct thermal shipping labels - present challenges when adhering to 100% recycled paper-based packaging.

Why?

100% recycled paper is harder to adhere to than virgin paper. 100% recycled paper (with high percentages of post consumer waste) has short fibers and a grittier surface, making it more difficult for adhesives to bond.

Shipping labels typically utilize acrylic emulsion adhesives. This type of adhesive is made with mostly water, with polymers suspended within. There are thousands of acrylic emulsion formulations out there - and they vary based on the type and strength of the desired bond, the facestock material being used, and the substrate the label will be adhered to.

Our original Zero Waste Labels utilized a general purpose acrylic emulsion adhesive, that is not dissimilar to the adhesives used in other labels, such as UPS’s free direct thermal shipping labels. Unfortunately, this general purpose adhesive did not always perform effectively when placed on 100% recycled paper or corrugated. We experienced the occasional label falling off of packages ourselves, and we know some of our customers did as well.

VERSION 2.0: SUSTAINABILITY AND STRENGTH

Thus we embarked on the process of improving this product by transitioning to a high strength adhesive designed to work well on recycled corrugated.

While this seems like an easy step, the patented and unique process of manufacturing these Zero Waste Labels means that switching adhesives required testing, iteration and time.

We learned we could not use a hot melt adhesive (which is the type of adhesive used on our HI-TAC labels) because it is simply too strong for the label to then release from the liner when you need to apply it to your package!

We learned that testing and improvements in winter were proving difficult! Testing means we are buying small quantities of adhesive at a time, so they are not shipped in dedicated temperature controlled trailers. Unfortunately adhesive freezes in transit - and we lost a few samples this way!

Finally, in June of 2020 we had it! A Zero Waste Shipping Label with a “corrugated strength” adhesive! And...it works! In fact, it works BETTER than other (virgin, standard liner) labels! While it isn’t as strong as our HI-TAC label (which uses the 100% polymer hot melt adhesive), it has proven to be very successful for our shipping team and companies who have tried it seem to love it as well!

Check out this video to see for yourself!