Selecting Sustainable Ink for Retail Packaging Expiration & Date Codes

Seeking sustainable ink for packaging? Consider these elements during your search to find the best formula to meet your needs.

Sustainability has been on the minds of consumers for many years. Various market research and surveys show that most customers today consider themselves to be eco-conscious to a certain extent. Elements like high recyclability, non-toxic packaging material, and natural ingredient inclusion are all consistently profiled as appealing to consumers in annual reports and reviews. 

For example, Trivium Packaging’s 2021 Global Buying Green Report reports that:

  • 67% of consumers consider themselves to be environmentally aware.
  • 73% of consumers are willing to pay more for products housed in sustainable packaging.
  • 67% of consumers say that it's important to buy products that are packaged in recyclable packaging.
  • 57% of consumers are less likely to buy products that are packaged in environmentally harmful materials.

From survey results like this, it’s clear that sustainable packaging isn’t just good for the earth—it’s good for business too. Of course, using recyclable materials isn’t the only thing that makes packaging sustainable. It’s also important to mark the packaging with eco-friendly ink formulas. However, finding formulas that are both substrate-compatible and good for the environment isn’t always easy. 

If you’re looking for sustainable ink for packaging applications, here’s what you need to know.

Sustainable Ink Considerations

Sustainability can mean different things to different people. In the world of sustainable packaging, the elements that most frequently spring to mind include high recyclability and eco-friendly material sourcing. For groups like the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), however, the concept of sustainability is more multifaceted. According to the SPC, sustainable packaging is predominantly defined as packaging that:

  • Is beneficial and safe for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle.
  • Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy.
  • Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials.
  • Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed-loop cycles.

The SPC created this definition to help packaging groups and manufacturers think of sustainability as a multifaceted concept that goes beyond using eco-friendly product packaging. From the SPC’s point of view, true sustainability is achieved by using packaging methods that minimize harm to the environment at every possible moment, starting from material sourcing and ending with package disposal. In this framework, ink plays an essential role. 

For example, the modern packaging industry offers many materials that are fully recyclable and biodegradable (e.g., glassine bags). However, if these materials are marked with toxic inks, coatings, adhesives, or any other additives, they can still negatively impact the environment. 

If a company wants to be truly sustainable, they must find ink formulas that won’t harm the environment but are still able to create long-lasting codes on their product packaging. Fortunately, today’s top ink manufacturers can help with this search.

Find a Sustainable Ink Formula That Meets Your Requirements

Just as the SPC created their own sustainability guidelines, retailers and government regulators across the globe have their own unique conceptions of what sustainable ink for packaging means. Most commonly, these organizations will advise against (or completely restrict) the use of inks that are made with potentially harmful material bases. The European Union, for example, has officially recommended against the use of mineral oil-based inks due to their ability to contaminate food/beverage products and harm the environment. In response, many European countries have been looking toward banning mineral oil-based inks altogether in the years to come. 

In situations like these, following sustainability guidelines requires the use of ink formulas that are made with alternate bases. Water-based inks and vegetable-based inks, for instance, all meet the EU’s guidelines, as well as sustainability standards set by other organizations. 

At InkJet, Inc., we carry these kinds of inks and more, as we make it our mission to help companies meet all of their coding requirements. Our ink portfolio is full of formulas that are compatible with continuous inkjet, thermal inkjet, and high-resolution case coding printers, and include inks like:

  • DC495 and DC496, two food-grade inks that offer drying times of 2-4 seconds (available in both red and blue colors).
  • DC050, an ethanol-based environmentally-friendly black ink.
  • DC461, an ethyl acetate-based black ink that is ideal for glass, metal, and plastic packaging.
  • OS462, an isopropyl acetate-based environmentally black ink that is built for general use.

If our inventory doesn’t meet your requirements, we also offer custom ink services. Through this service, our development team can create a sustainable formula that is perfectly attuned to your needs.

Need Sustainable Ink for Packaging Applications? Call InkJet, Inc. Today

Sustainable ink means different things to different organizations. At InkJet, Inc. we can help match you with an ink that meets your conception of sustainability. Call today to learn how.

To find sustainable ink for packaging applications and other industrial marking consumables, contact us online today or call 1(800) 280-3245

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