Making Sustainability Stick: How This Tape and Label Manufacturer … – ThomasNet News

Making Sustainability Stick: How This Tape and Label Manufacturer … – ThomasNet News yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7
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This article is sponsored by NADCO Tapes & Labels, Inc., a U.S. manufacturer of standard and custom tapes and labels. The company’s sustainable practices include using eco-friendly inks, operating flexo presses designed for water-based primers and inks instead of solvents, and more.

As climate change escalates worldwide, sustainability has become an important factor influencing consumer purchasing decisions. According to a Forrester survey, 61% of Americans stated they look for energy-efficient labels to decide what products to purchase. Businesses must explore sustainable packaging options both to stay competitive and to minimize their carbon footprint.

NADCO Tapes & Labels, Inc., a Florida-based manufacturer of standard and custom tapes and labels, offers a line of compostable labels for the food and beverage, cosmetics, and other industries. Compostable labels are made of organic materials like sugarcane or potato starch and, when composted, break down into nutrients that fertilize the soil. Using compostable labels eliminates forever chemicals like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs), conserves natural resources, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and helps improve brand image.

“Right now, the main tradeoffs for more eco-friendly tape and label products are higher costs and limited customization capabilities,” says Neil Doniger, vice president of NADCO Tapes & Labels. “Since most of these materials and technologies are fairly new to the market, we need to see them stabilize and hopefully become more cost-effective as availability and demand increase.”

“However, as an R&D print shop, NADCO has no problem test-printing new materials so that we can offer said materials to our customers with a higher level of confidence that they will work well for the end-user’s application. This includes new compostable and other sustainable materials,” he says.

To stay ahead of sustainability trends, NADCO has already implemented several sustainable practices, such as using eco-friendly inks, supplying their press-wash system with distilled water produced by their facility’s dehumidifiers, recycling packaging waste, and more. 

Neil Doniger (ND): NADCO is the first LEED Silver-certified manufacturer in the state of Florida. As such, we are working with all of our suppliers to get as green as possible with the materials we buy. We strive to stay one step ahead, especially in terms of sustainability. 

A lot of flexographic printing companies that have been in business for decades are reluctant to upgrade old legacy presses and other printing and converting equipment. They tend to take the “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” attitude and keep plugging away using outdated equipment, materials, and technologies, not looking at new ways until something forces their hand.

Even though NADCO has been around since 1988, we pride ourselves on being flexible enough to roll with changes. We’re not shy about trading in older equipment for newer, more energy-efficient presses and trying out new, more eco-friendly materials. At NADCO, we research alongside leading manufacturers to determine what is and is not possible in the arena of sustainability.

ND: We currently offer three types of label stock products: Facestock 6352, S9500, and 45#BG liner. Facestock 6352 is made primarily of sugar cane fibers and provides good adhesion for sustainable wine, spirits, and other retail food and beverage product labels. S9500 is ideal for direct food contact with dry foods like fruits and vegetables, as well as applications where all of the packaging must be compostable. The 45#BG liner is a water- and grease-resistant glassine paper with a white, supercalendered finish.

ND: Right now, we can offer compostable label stocks but are limited to how much additional product we can add. For example, we can print on the stock, which is certified compostable, or we can use the HP Indigo ElectroInks, which are certified OK to compost. But then we have to add a protective layer in the form of a non-toxic varnish. While the varnish is considered non-toxic, as it contains no poisonous chemical compounds, this does not mean it is compostable. It will break down or biodegrade, but it does not add nutritional value to the soil and thus is not considered compostable. 

We are allowed to use these non-toxic coatings but must follow a weight-limit formula. This means that we consider the entire compostable package — the container itself plus the label being printed — and keep the added components under 5% of the total weight of said package/label. This 5% will include everything we add to the label, such as primers, inks, and protective coatings. This method allows us to say the package is compostable because any elements that are not technically compostable do not exceed 5% of the total weight of the package composition.

At this time, the industry does not have any primers, varnishes, or coatings that are considered compostable. However, we are committed to further research to offer more options, as the industry’s suppliers adapt to consumer demand for eco-friendly products. 

ND: Sustainability in the print industry is a bit of a moving target right now. We recently invested in the HP Indigo press with compostable inks, as opposed to other digital presses that have not moved toward more eco-friendly technologies. The HP Indigo’s water- and soy-based ElectroInks are DIN Certco and TUV Austria certified for use on compostable substrates. 

In our facility, we regularly repurpose and recycle packaging materials. We also stay in close contact with various vendors that supply our materials, inks, and coatings. For example, our printing plate vendor recently shifted from analog to digital plate making and implemented a solvent reclaim system. 

As a shop known for its R&D skills and ability to source solutions, NADCO is keeping its finger on the pulse of new product development in the paper, film, ink, and coating arenas. We are ready to make changes to our production processes and update our equipment as needed to bring these products to our customers. 

Learn more about NADCO’s sustainable products and initiatives.

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