Sustainability is a major buzzword in the packaging industry right now.  Eco-conscious consumers are voting with their feet by supporting brands that show their commitment to environmentally-friendly practices, forcing brands to up their game.  Waste – particularly single-use plastic and non-recyclable material – is increasingly being called out by ‘woke’ consumers who refuse to let the wool be pulled over their eyes by mere aesthetics.

Of course, paying attention to sustainability isn’t just a trend or a marketing ploy – we all have a real responsibility to reduce our environmental impact, in order to protect our planet from climate change. Which is why we are helping our clients achieve their goals by creating bespoke recyclable embellishments.

For distillers and other premium food and drink manufacturers, it should be simple. In the majority of cases they use glass bottles to contain their products and cardboard boxes to package them – both materials that can be made from recycled material, and recycled again at the end of their life.  Glass, in particular, is infinitely recyclable – meaning it can be melted down and reused over and over again with no loss of quality.

Every tonne of glass that is recycled saves 246 kg of CO2 emissions, but in the UK we recycle just 50% of our glass, which puts us well behind the average in other European countries. Despite the UK having over 50,000 bottle banks capable of holding 3,000 bottles each, five out of every six glass bottles ends up in landfill.  A large part of the problem is the things that are added to the glass – such as labels – that are difficult to remove during the recycling process.

As you’ll know if you’ve ever tried to remove a label from a jam jar, these stickers are applied with strong adhesive designed to make them durable for daily use, and are almost impossible to remove without leaving a stubborn, sticky residue on the glass.  Mechanical processes exist to remove the residue by washing or heating, but these add extra expense and can adversely affect the quality of the recycled glass.  Many paper labels are coated with plastic or foil, which further complicates the process.  As a result, the recycled glass contains impurities that can alter its colour or cause it to look cloudy, with clear glass the worst affected – and this is often discarded.

As Signet, we take our environmental responsibilities seriously and for us that means doing whatever we can to support our clients as they strive to make their packaging more sustainable.  We’ve made it our business to learn how the products we make behave at the other end of the product journey, during recycling and disposal, and we’re always working to make things better.

One fascinating thing we’ve learned from a recent visit to a recycling plant is that adding metal or solid plastic embellishments to a glass bottle ensures the recycling process is much simpler than it is for glass with paper labels.  These solid embellishments come off the bottle in one piece, and are usually applied with a solid foam or bonded adhesive liner which means the glue stays stuck to the embellishment, not the glass.  Both things are therefore easy to remove from the recycling process at an early stage – and where resources exist, they can even be recycled in their own right.

Choosing a more recyclable option doesn’t have to be economically unsustainable, either.  Our Badges, Cartouches, Charms, Coins, Faux Wax Seals, Hangtags, Medallions and Neck Collars or Wraps can all be made from either a recyclable metal or plastic. And our Ribbons, which can be used in combination with other decorations, are all recyclable as well. We have a plethora of options to create bespoke recyclable embellishments for your brand which would be an ideal alternative to a paper label, and compares favourably on price considering the significant uplift in quality.

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