Category Archives: Sustainability

The Sustainability Archive is where you will find our blog posts on environmental sustainability that relate to packaging materials, the printing industry, and consumerism. You will also find the latest news on environmental legislation and environmental industry standards that affect the packaging and printing industries here.

Earth Day is Coming – Do You Use Sustainable Stickers and Labels?

Sustainable Stickers and LabelsCelebrate Earth Day With Recyclable Stickers

Every year on April 22, people across the globe acknowledge Earth Day in a variety of ways, from planting trees to making sure the recyclable stickers affixed to the products they buy actually get recycled.

United States Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day in 1970 with the goal of making environmental protection part of the national political agenda. As a result, the United States Environmental Protection Agency was created and two pivotal laws were passed: the Clean Air, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. Over the past four decades, the movement has grown and evolved, spreading across the globe and taking new forms every year. In fact, according to, it is the largest civic event in the world with more than 1 billion participants.

Do Your Part With Sustainable Packaging

You don’t have to be a senator to drive environmental change – in fact, you’d be surprised by the size of the impact that switching to sustainable packaging can have, even for a small company. Think about it: Every item you sell is branded with a label, sticker or some other kind of packaging, and all those materials can quickly pile up. Of course, you want your custom labels and stickers to be high-quality, professional-looking and durable for the duration of your products’ life span, but what about after that?

Why Use Recycled Labels?

The benefits of recycled labels go beyond helping to conserve the Earth’s resources. Today’s consumers are becoming more and more environmentally conscious, so letting them know that sustainability is important to your company might attract green-minded shoppers to your brand.

“Consumers around the world are saying loud and clear that a brand’s social purpose is among the factors that influence purchase decisions,” Amy Fenton, global leader of public development and sustainability at Nielsen, asserted in a statement. “This behavior is on the rise and it provides opportunities for meaningful impact in our communities, in addition to helping to grow share for brands.”

Indeed the Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility released last June revealed that more than half (55 percent) of online consumers are willing to pay more for goods if the companies from which they’re purchasing are committed to making a positive social and environmental impact.

Water Resistant Labels Prevent Peeling from Summertime’s Elements

Water Resistant LabelsStop Stickers Peeling by Using Water Resistant Labels

Companies spend a lot of time and money trying to design an eye-catching label that meets all compliance standard, so stickers peeling is obviously something they would want to avoid. Not only does this reduce the marketability of products, as the label will look unprofessional or may fall off completely, it also may leave customers without vital instructions on proper usage.

Not all paper liners and adhesives are designed to withstand exposure to water, and if that’s the case, stickers and labels will fade, peel or otherwise be damaged when left in these environments. With the summer months here, this should be a big concern for brands that manufacture products that may come in contact with moisture, whether it’s at the beach, in a cooler with melting ice or anywhere else.

Taking a Look at Water Resistant Labels

Water resistant labels are crucial for any product that needs to withstand an unusual amount of moisture or contact with water. Although many labels nowadays are laminated to improve durability against scuffs and ink smudging, that alone is not enough. Additionally, specific adhesives should be used to supplement cohesion.

At Lightning Labels, we tend to use white BOPP and high-gloss laminate for custom water resistant labels. Typically, these labels are affixed to bath and body products designed for use in the shower, but these labels would also work for products in other watery environments. UV outdoor gloss may also be considered to withstand the sun’s UV rays, making it perfect in combination with vinyl face stock to create highly durable outdoor labels.

Carefully choosing the right laminate for product designs is critical not only to enhance the finished look of labels, but also to provide an extra layer of durability to harsh environments such as the beach.

Seasonal Fun Calls for Summer Labels

People spend more time outdoors in the summer and that means the products they use regularly will see more time outdoors as well. If manufacturers produce items that could be used outside – whether it’s at the beach, camping or in backyard parties – they need to consider summer labels. By designing labels with outdoor activities in mind, companies can rest assured knowing the integrity of their branding and labels won’t be compromised by summer fun.

New Year Label Resolutions For Health Product Makers

Label Attraction for Nutraceuticals and Food and Beverage Products

As the world gears up its health-conscious resolutions for 2013, it’s a logical time for manufacturers of health-related nutraceutical, and food and beverage products to address how to improve product attraction in the marketplace.

Regardless of sales channels—retail, distributors, white-label branding, et al.—every manufacturer of health-related products can enhance offerings by asking the marketplace for recommendations regarding label form and functionality. It’s important to poll all target audiences (e.g., end users, retailers, distributors) to identify common and disparate preference threads—then decide how to address them.

nutraceutical labelsEnd-user consumers may have ideas and preferences far different than healthcare practitioners who order products for their clients. By examining all major audiences, the manufacturer can then craft a labeling approach that will provide maximum appeal across the board.

Following are key areas to examine:

Professionalism vs. panache

Professionals tend to buy products based on reputation and performance. For them, primary label concerns may focus on accuracy, complete disclosure and legibility. In contrast, end-users selecting from online sites or on store shelves likely will be attracted to flashier, more prominent labels. Depending on the age group and other demographics involved, what constitutes favorably-flashy can vary considerably. Millennials often have preferences far different than baby boomers, for example.

One size fits all vs. multiple looks

It’s very important for product manufacturers to consider if or how they may want to segment labeling schemes for multiple audiences while maintaining key branding elements. Digital label printing enables easy and economical production of a variety of labels to help achieve wide-ranging objectives. And variable image options can make the process even faster and more affordable, expediting printing of multiple designs in one run. While there’s no cardinal rule mandating single or multiple label designs, digital label printing offers solutions across the board.

This can be a tough call. Often, healthcare practitioners will eschew products with labels that appear too “out there,” opting instead for a conservative, businesslike look and feel. Reconciling this with different consumer preferences about shelf-appeal and the like can prove challenging.

Testing different labels

Digital label printing affords health product manufacturers the luxury of test marketing. Based on initial determination of marketplace preferences, manufacturers can literally try out many colors, fonts, and even label materials. For example, manufacturers adhering to environmentally-friendly practices may want to use green packaging, label materials and inks. EarthFirst PLA is one intriguing label material made from corn instead of petroleum that can offer a different look and position the manufacturer as a solid supporter of the environment.

Just as health-oriented consumers ring in the in the new year with commitments to get healthier and wiser, so should product manufacturers look at improvements in packaging and labeling that can lead to a healthier bottom line.


Lightning Labels, Printer of Environmentally Friendly Stickers and Labels, Issues Tips to Help Consumers Identify Greenwashing

Green Claims Can Create Red-Faced Manufacturers: ‘Greenwashing’ Trend Increases Need for Eco-Friendly Label Regulations

Eco-Friendly labels are valued by customers

Denver, CO (PRWEB) November 27, 2012

Lightning Labels, a custom label and sticker printing leader, is increasing awareness of a not-so-new fad – “greenwashing” – that has been used frequently by manufacturers as a means to capitalize on consumers’ desires to see eco-friendly labels and stickers.

“‘Greenwashing’ is a fast-growing trend, and some would venture to say that green is really the new black,” says Business Development Manager AnneMarie Campbell. “But the trend is destructive, both for the consumers who buy a product based on eco-friendly label claims and the corporations and manufacturers whose actual environmentally friendly efforts are being overshadowed by false or misleading claims by competitors.”

The History of ‘Greenwashing’ and False Eco-Label Claims: The term “greenwashing,” now commonly used in the labeling industry, came about in 1986 when an environmentalist exposed non-environmentally friendly practices in the hospitality industry, calling for people to reuse towels as a way to preserve the Earth and its environment. Greenwashing is a combination of the words green, meaning eco-friendly, and whitewashing, meaning purposefully covering mistakes or errors, and means intentionally using green claims to make people believe a product is eco-friendly.

Greenwashing may include calling products organic, natural, green or recycled when the products are not. Greenpeace, an advocate for eliminating greenwashing and companies’ false claims about being eco-friendly, says most manufacturers resort to this strategy to increase their sales and try to make money from consumers who have a genuine interest in supporting products that save the Earth.

Lightning Labels Warns of the Damage Caused by Misleading Environmentally Friendly Labels: There are several problems that may rise when companies knowingly use misleading environmentally friendly labels. For starters, it’s making consumers quite confused as to what it really means for a company to be green. The eco-friendly market has become competitive – some may even call it oversaturated – and now gives people the opportunity to compare prices for eco-friendly products that have traditionally been more expensive.

The problem, however, is when companies that play by the rules and actually do offer green products aren’t able to lower prices enough to remain competitive, allowing greenwashing companies to take more business from honest companies, which perpetuates the cycle and continues to take advantage of unknowing consumers.

Stopping The Cycle By Demanding Honest Labels: Although consumers have traditionally been the victims of these false eco-friendly label claims, more people are taking a stand against companies that use misleading label tactics.

This sends a powerful message to companies, especially those that choose to make false claims and exaggerate their eco-friendly efforts. Instead of being an easy target for these businesses, consumers are now making it their mission to turn the tables on deceitful companies, making their inaccurate claims public. This has potential to damage a company and severely harm its reputation. In a competitive market, this will likely cause more than just corporate embarrassment – it could destroy a business’s reputation.

Lightning Labels has been doing its part to provide people with environmentally friendly label materials and stickers. In addition to offering recycled kraft and vellum sticker and labels materials, manufacturers can also purchase BioStone products – made from stone, not trees – and EarthFirst PLA labels, which are eco-friendly and made from corn.

To order truly eco-friendly custom stickers and environmentally friendly labels made with green materials like EarthFirst PLA, Lightning Labels is offering a four-day sale that runs from November 29, 2012 through December 2, 2012. Save 10% off new label orders placed online. Simply use promo code 4DAYS at checkout. The promo code 4DAYS is valid on new label orders placed online only and does not apply to reorders. Free ground shipping applies to regularly priced orders shipped within the United States and Canada, but shipping charges apply for printed press proofs. This offer cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions.

About Lightning Labels:

Lightning Labels uses state-of-the-art digital printing technology to provide affordable, full-color custom labels and custom stickers of all shapes and sizes, and now offers a full line of custom packaging products. From small orders for individuals, to the bulk needs of big businesses, Lightning Labels is equipped to handle and fulfill sticker, label and product packaging projects of all types. Best of all, like the name implies, Lightning Labels provides a quick turnaround to every customers’ labeling and product packaging needs. Uses for Lightning Labels custom product labels and custom stickers include food packaging and organic food labels, wine and beverage labels, bath and body labels, and nutraceutical products, such as vitamins, essentials oils, and herbal remedies, as well as event stickers, adhesive window stickers and more. Lightning Labels strongly supports the development of environmentally friendly printing materials and carries EarthFirst PLA, a new kind of green label material made from corn instead of petroleum. While operating as a high-tech printer, Lighting Labels prides itself on its personalized customer service. Lightning Labels provides one stop shopping for all of your label and product packaging needs. For more information and to place orders online, visit For the latest in packaging news and labeling promotional offers, find Lightning Labels on Facebook, Twitter (@LightningLabels), and Google+.

Make Earth Day Every Day: Choose Sustainable Materials for Your Product Labels

Biostone is a label material made from rocks, not trees

Lightning Labels offers several sustainable label materials, including BioStone. It is a stone paper that is fully compostable.

Celebrating Earth Day this Sunday? Great! We are, too — and every day — here at Lightning Labels. Just a few years ago, we unfortunately could not say this. There were very limited “eco-friendly” label material options available at that time, and those that existed did not meet our stringent guidelines for quality.

Today, though, we are proud to offer a full lineup of sustainable label materials. Check them out:

Made from stone, not trees
Fully biodegradable and compostable
Strong and durable
Water resistant
Excellent ink adhesion properties Continue reading “Make Earth Day Every Day: Choose Sustainable Materials for Your Product Labels” »

10 Environmentally Friendly Packaging Practices

As the world’s resources are depleting and harmful emissions are rising, it is important for businesses to rethink their production and packaging practices. To improve the green image of a business, there are many ecofriendly packaging methods that can be implemented.

1. According to “Branching Out,” an IPM newsletter for trees and shrubs, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) set up a program that “aims to set a worldwide, common set of principles for certifying well-managed forests.” Materials from these forests are given a “green certification,” and companies can look for this seal when selecting their products.

2. Using soy- or vegetable-based inks on packaging can reduce the amount of emissions a business produces. As one of the first companies to mix their own vegetable-based inks, Harris LithoGraphics states that “vegetable and soy based inks avoid the use of petroleum, and release less volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.”

3. The environment can benefit from upgrading in-house manufacturing equipment. In 2000, the Fuji plant upgraded its exhaust gas treatment equipment and was successful in reducing its chemical emissions and transfers by 74.8 percent in just 10 years. Staying current on green trends will help companies improve their manufacturing sites.

4. Using recycled materials for packaging is an ecofriendly practice. According to the governmental online resource, Business Link, “using recycled materials in your packaging can enable you to cut costs and environmental impact.

5. Reducing the product-to-package ratio helps eliminate wastes. To reduce the amount of packaging used, Business Link suggests “eliminating unnecessary layers of packaging, reducing or eliminating the use of adhesives and tape” and using “embossing or in-mould direct printing to avoid using labels.”

6. Using only raw materials and energy sources that are renewable helps maintain a balance in the ecosystem. An article from “Packaging Digest” states that “when we are talking about packaging, we are generally referring to fiber and other bio-based, renewable materials.”

7. Since the packaging process can produce a lot of waste, companies should recycle materials that are not used. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that 31 million tons of plastic waste was generated in 2010, and only eight percent of that amount was recovered for recycling. Packaging divisions can do their part by increasing that percentage with recycling programs.

8. The chemicals used in packaging processes have a great impact on the environment. An article from “What They Think?” lists aspects to consider when choosing the right chemicals. They suggest “lowering the level of VOCs, using non-hazardous materials to manufacture, ensuring the product will not impede recycling or biodegradation while using bio-derived, naturally based, renewable raw materials.”

9. Some companies improve their environmental impact by using light-weight materials like plastic rather than metal, glass or paper. The EPA states that “lighter weight materials require less fuel to transport and result in less material in the waste stream.”

10. The package design should be carefully considered and altered for recycling. To achieve this goal, Business Link suggests “avoiding materials that are not standard and may cause recycling problems, making your packaging compatible with established recycling process, designing packaging that minimizes any product residue and ensuring your packaging can be easily disassembled.”

Following just one of these practices will improve the environmental impact of a company. The most important things to consider are recycling programs and lower emission rates. By redesigning the packaging methods, companies can help achieve a greener future.

Going Green to Make Green: Appeal to Shoppers with Biodegradable Labels

Americans are becoming increasingly cognizant of their environmental impact and are making purchases from brands they feel also respect the earth. As a result, many companies have begun switching to green operating methods.

This is especially true with product packaging. Plastics and other products have long been the focus of many environmental agencies, as they tend to pile up in landfills. In response, many companies are adjusting their labeling and packaging approaches. As Yahoo notes, the need for green packaging solutions is anticipated to rise 6 percent each year through 2015.

If businesses want to reduce their impact on the environment and make their products more appealing to consumers, they too should consider switching to green packaging solutions.

Some label printing companies, including Lightning Labels, can assist manufacturers in this process. At Lightning Labels, we now have an entire line of eco-friendly labels, including BioStone. This paper material is on the the cutting edge of green packaging. It is a biodegradable, compostable material made from stone. Yes, stone!

To view our full lineup of green label materials, visit us online; or order free label samples.

New Eco-Friendly Label Materials That Rock

BioStone Sample Label

I am thrilled to announce that Lightning Labels now offers these three environmentally friendly labeling materials: BioStone, Recycled Vellum, and Recycled Kraft. While all three materials rock, BioStone is literally made of stone. Here are the highlights of each new material:


Fully biodegradable

Perfect for composting

Cannot be laminated

Made from stone, not trees

Just plain cool Continue reading “New Eco-Friendly Label Materials That Rock” »

An Open Letter to HP Indigo from Mother Nature

April 22, 2011

Dear HP Indigo,

I have been meaning to write you for quite a while … ever since you launched your first digital printing press back in 1993, actually, to tell you how much I appreciate you. It seems that whenever I have a few minutes to sit down and catch up on my correspondence, a crisis comes up and I have to go rescue my precious darling, Earth, from humanity. *sigh* It seems that race is always having accidents that hurt my poor baby! The last time I pulled out my laptop to write you, in fact, one of their oil wells exploded off the shore of Louisiana before I even had time to log on to to the Internet. It was such as mess, I tell you. About 4,900,000 barrels of crude oil were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico!!! But I digress …

HP Indigo, thank you for being so kind to my Earth. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. In short, here’s why I heart you:

    1) Your digital printing process minimizes the amount of waste produced, and the United State’s EPA doesn’t consider any of it hazardous. Unlike traditional printing processes, digital printing doesn’t use printing plates, photographic films, and all the associated disgusting waste that those things produce. I know this pleases you as much as it does me, since you don’t have to deal with disposing toxic chemicals, storing previously printed plates and film, and other hassles like fume extraction.

    2) Your presses use HP ElectroInk, which isn’t full of toxic elements like lead, cadmium, mercury. ElectroInk is so safe, in fact, that it has received a lot of awards … including the prestigious Nordic Swan ecolabel.

    3) HP Indigo presses are manufactured to ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standards. This doesn’t surprise me at all, since HP has quite a reputation for being environmentally responsible. I don’t want to inflate your ego or anything, but do you know that Fortune Magazine (yes, THE Fortune Magazine), named your company oneof the world’s 10 corporate “Green Giants”? No lie.

    4) I also want to thank you for minimizing the amount of ozone that your presses produce. It really was intelligent of you to put super efficient charcoal absorber cartridges in your digital printing presses. But I am not surprised … you have always been smart.

    I could go on all day about why you are so great, but today is Earth Day. That means that people around the world are throwing celebrations in honor of my sweet baby. But they aren’t giving Earth presents they bought in stores. And thank goodness for that, because Heaven knows that Earth barely has room to store anything else these days! What they are doing instead is educating people about how to take care of Earth. Isn’t that a fabulous gift idea? And to be honest, it is about time someone help me start taking care of Earth again. Earth is getting older, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to take care of my darling all by myself … especially with all these trips to the emergency room! So I better sign off and get to those parties. I will write again soon, though … promise.

    In the meantime, sweetie, keep up the good work. You are doing a great job!


    Mother Nature

    Irish Beer Label Upcycled as Fashion Accessory

    Guinness Beer Label Preserved as Belt Buckle

    While surfing Etsy the other day, I ran across this beautiful belt buckle made from a Guinness beer label. We print a lot of gorgeous product labels here at Lightning Labels, and I always wonder how many of them get saved. I would be very pleased if some of them ended up getting being preserved as wearable accessories like this one.