Why on demand labelling has sticking power as a sustainable solution

By Epson Blog Team

European businesses could annually save 28.7 million kWh - the equivalent of lighting 95,960 homes or a reduction of 6.7 million tonnes of CO2.  They could also eliminate 180 million square metres of label waste, the equivalent covering of 25,264 football pitches, and cut ink waste by an estimated 619 tonnes, the equivalent weight of 41 double decker buses.

These are the among the figures reported by Smithers  following its comparison and evaluation of the sustainability of different print processes to see how brands can achieve key goals. It analysed businesses using a range of commercial, thermal transfer and in-house colour inkjet printing processes and calculated their impact from label stock to application.

It found major commercial and operational benefits of using inkjet to print labels inhouse along with the demonstrable reduction of:

Energy consumption as commercial print processes are energy intensive with a traditional flexo label printer using around 39 kWh per 1000 square meters of labels printed. If that label has variable data printed using thermal transfer the combined energy use is 41 kWh per 1000 square meters. Inkjet can use just 1% of that energy for the same volume.

Waste with Smithers estimating up to 11% of label materials are wasted from label stock to final application due to start up and make ready, or simply through print errors. Both can be eliminated by switching to on-demand colour inkjet.

Consumable use as one of the key sustainability challenges in thermal transfer printing is ribbon usage. For every square meter of label printed, a significant amount of ribbon is also used regardless of the ink coverage. This can only be used once and is not easily recycled.

By significantly reducing overall energy consumption, minimising waste and cutting consumable use, on-demand inkjet label printing enables operations to develop flexible and responsive practices that support highly sustainable production. They can also move closer to meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) including:

  • SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy - Inkjet is a far less energy intensive process and can use just 1% of that energy for the same area printed. 
  • SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth - Inkjet printing can provide cost efficiencies and margin improvements for label users.
  • SDG 9 Industry Innovation and Infrastructure - Innovative inkjet technology can reduce waste of label materials and stock obsolescence.
  • SDG12 Responsible Consumption and Production - There are significant reduction waste materials (e.g. ribbons) during inkjet printing vs thermal transfer printing.

These are among the sustainable improvements being enjoyed by a number of operations:

  • Greens Engros, a Danish wholesaler and catering business, picked an Epson C7500G label printer to create customised labels. Using the on-demand colour printers eliminates the prospect of unusable labels and enables a greater degree of production flexibility. Previously product labels were ordered from an external supplier but a change in the law required a new form or product declaration and that required a rethinking of the process. Now the exact number of labels required can be printed and there is no need to hold stock.
  • Roots GmbH, a German environmentally friendly spice cultivation start-up, wanted to combine its eye-catching logo with regulatory information and the individualised weights of handpicked herbs.  Label durability was important, too, as stock can stay in kitchens for some time. Also, the transportation of the labels created unnecessary CO2. It chose an Epson Colorworks CW-6000 to assure high print quality, cut costs and eliminate over production.
  • Ureka Global Ltd, the UK provider of adhesives, sealants and bonding solutions to manufacturing, construction and other businesses, chose and Epson Colorworks CW-6000 to provide inhouse label printing. Aside from not being tied to manufacturers’ stipulations, it also wanted to be able to offer private labelling on a broader range of media.
  • AKI, a Portuguese and Spanish DIY distribution company, previously managed labelling centrally for its 57 stores. With the numerous stages involved, including manual checking and dispatching, it was decided a more autonomous approach could be supported with Epson’s Colorworks high speed roll label printer with automatic cutting. Now the label required is selected from those available and placed in the right location immediately.

It is time you made changes to your operation to enhance its, and the environment’s, well-being? Learn more here https://www.epson.co.uk/products/colour-label-printers.

About Epson

Epson is a global technology leader dedicated to co-creating sustainability and enriching communities by leveraging its efficient, compact, and precision technologies and digital technologies to connect people, things, and information. The company is focused on solving societal issues through innovations in home and office printing, commercial and industrial printing, manufacturing, visual and lifestyle. Epson will become carbon negative and eliminate use of exhaustible underground resources such as oil and metal by 2050.

Led by the Japan-based Seiko Epson Corporation, the worldwide Epson Group generates annual sales of around JPY 1 trillion.


Article Information



Author profile

Epson Blog Team

Our team of bloggers have a passion for how technology can improve your lives and want to share this with you.