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Sticking to Sustainability

The Advantages of Micropheric Adhesives with Ultra-removable Labels

By Andrew Palmer, Director of Sales, RRD Label Solutions

Adhesives are everywhere – on the sticky notes where we create to-do lists, the shipping labels that adhere to the packages delivered to our doorsteps and the critical, permanent labels on the appliances we use every day. While all adhesives serve different purposes, one labeling method of increasing importance is ultra-removable labels, which maintain their efficacy all while increasing companies’ flexibility, efficiency and progress toward sustainability goals.

While ultra-removable labels have existed in the industry for years, recent changes in customer preferences and organizational sustainability pressures have led manufacturers to increasingly consider this type of adhesive as an alternative to the permanence of standard labels. Thankfully, due to their versatility, reusability and robustness, ultra-removable labels are a trusted technology for a variety of industries and applications – from lightweight adhesion on glass to applications on reusable plastic totes in distribution centers.

What are Ultra-Removable Labels?

Ultra-removable labels incorporate tiny bubbles within the adhesive label – that doesn’t allow them to fully stick to a surface, but makes them perform for the designed application in any conditions, withstanding transit and extreme environments. Importantly, considering how high performing these labels are, they do not leave behind residue when removed. Whether attached to corrugated shipping boxes, plastic totes, glass or other materials, the labels are completely and cleanly removable.

Ultra-removable labels can enhance both a product as well as the overall customer experience by emphasizing a product’s basic attributes. For example, manufacturers across many industries require shipping labels to move their products from one point to another. But, what if they could utilize ultra-removable labels that allow customers to easily reuse shipping boxes or remove unnecessary branding labels from products once purchased? Ultra-removable labels can do just that, and manufacturers aiming to enhance overall customer experience can look to this adhesive for a simple, yet effective solution.

Sticking to Sustainability

According to a study1 conducted by RRD, 94 percent of packaging decision makers across a variety of industries agree that sustainability is a key consideration in packaging and label decisions. While ultra-removable labels enhance the customer experience, they also support manufacturers in achieving their sustainability goals.

One of the main attributes of ultra-removable labels is inherent to the name – they are able to be moved over and over again. Whether a label is accidentally affixed in the wrong place or is intended for multiple uses, being able to utilize ultra-removable labels cuts down on the need to create duplicate labels, which ultimately adds to a company’s waste.

Beyond the initial implementation of ultra-removable labels, the addition of linerless label technology can heighten a company’s sustainability efforts even further. Linerless labels omit the backing paper liner associated with many conventional labels, which can reduce a company’s overall waste and even improve workplace safety by eliminating the slick silicone liners that can easily end up on warehouse floors. The resulting combination of ultra-removable, linerless labels can take manufacturers from standard operations to sustainable methods through just a few simple decisions.

Ultra-removable Labels in Action

Demand for this technology is growing across various industries. Take the e-commerce industry, which constantly deals with customer product returns, especially in today’s environment of consistent online shopping.

According to the National Retail Federation2, for every $1 billion in sales, the average retailer incurs $165 million in merchandise returns. Many companies, automatically, or upon request, include return shipping labels within the original shipment, in the event customers need to return items.

The return label can be removed from its paper backing, fastened to the original or new shipping box and returned to the manufacturer. At the next level, with the implementation of ultra-removable labels, manufacturers can fasten two labels to the original shipment – the return label on the bottom and the original shipping label on top of it. This means if the customer needs to return an item, they can simply peel off the top label, leaving only the return label ready for shipment. Not only does this again eliminate the paper backing associated with traditional labels, but it enhances the overall customer experience with a truly seamless and efficient return process.

Another industry where we see the distinct benefits of ultra-removable labels is in the pharmaceutical industry. According to a controlled study3 of pharmacies, one in eight patients with a prepared prescription had at least one unclaimed prescription. While that may not seem drastic, that equates to tens of thousands of unclaimed prescriptions in just a few months.

When many pharmacies prepare prescriptions, they adhere labels with directions and dosage information directly to bottles or boxes. For the prescriptions that go unclaimed, that can equate to tens of thousands of bottles and boxes that go to waste due to the permanence of standard labels.

However, many pharmacies are seeing the direct benefits of ultra-removable labels, particularly when it comes to unclaimed prescriptions. By implementing these labels, pharmacists can remove the old label and fasten a new one for the next applicable patient, eliminating packaging waste due to labels that cannot be cleanly removed.

Small Choices Have a Major Impact

Ultra-removable labels enhance a product’s purpose, improve the overall customer experience and aim to support companies’ overall sustainability goals by reducing waste and increasing efficiency. Companies across various industries are constantly looking for big ways to enhance the customer experience and their sustainability efforts, but it is the small choices like switching to ultra-removable labels that can ultimately have a major impact.

1 https://www.rrd.com/reality-report
2 https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/2022-retail-returns-rate-remains-flat-816-billion
3 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28238663/

About the Author

Andrew Palmer is the director of sales for RRD Label Solutions. Developed in the early 1990s, CleanTac® is a market-leading ultra-removable adhesive trademarked by RRD, and remains the industry benchmark for microspheric label adhesives. To learn more, visit: rrd.com/services/packaging/labels.

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