Can I have a high gloss eye catching label that will home compost? No, you can’t.
Oh, and we also want to be able to print direct thermal variable data on it? No, you can’t.
But “blah blah” says that you can when you go onto their website.
Ah ha, so let’s have a look at what they don’t say shall we.
A very important four-letter word is often missing in a lot of advertising around compostable packaging and labelling is the word “HOME”. Home Compostable.
Often, if a compostability claim has been made without the word home in front of it, the reference is for commercial or industrial composting. In NZ we are a bit thin on the ground of commercial composting facilities that don’t specialise or aren’t already committed to a set business stream for their composting material and if industrial/commercial composting isn't available to the majority of Kiwi's, then you should'nt be claiming it as compostable.
Labels that are thermally coated for printing with additional data such as barcodes or packed on dates are infused with a proportion of industrial chemicals. Not something you want seeping into your compost or your soil, especially not if you plan on using that compost to fertilize your garden come the spring.
The use of vegetable-based, soy-based or non-toxic inks is not uncommon these days and definitely an option. We may compromise on the sharpness of the colours but really that is all on-trend with our home composting consumer.
Improvements and research are happening globally in the great race to obtain the ideal home compostable solution for labels, I think we are close in NZ for some markets and applications, especially if we are willing to accept a different look and feel, life use expectancy and price increase. I look forward to bringing you updates and some better news in the future on home compostable packaging labels.
However is isn't all doom and gloom as we need to celebrate the great wins that are being made with recycling, linerless printing labels, industrial compostable and eco-friendly, worm farm friendly labels etc by my colleagues and the industry.
Keep up the hard slog, look after yourself and don’t forget to drink your water.