Sarah from Xpress Labels talks certifications, choices and the complexities of recycling.
Ever since we first set out on our mission to create our own cleaning products, we knew that we wanted them to be friendly. Planet-friendly, family-friendly, animal-friendly – it’s probably why we think of them as superheroes!
There’s a lot of talk about environmentally friendly products but, when you look beneath the surface, things aren’t quite so straightforward. Every single element of the product from the ingredients to the glue on the labels need to be carefully investigated to make sure they measure up. This means a lot of legwork finding the right materials and the right suppliers.
In this case study, I’m speaking to Sarah Bruton, of Xpress Labels. I’ll confess it was a fantastic moment when we came across Xpress Labels; they are so well geared to offer what we needed, and their hugely collaborative approach makes them a real star in our supply chain.
Xpress Labels have been trading for around 20 years and what they don’t know about labels isn’t worth knowing. Most importantly they, like us, are always striving for continuous improvement.
I asked Sarah to explain what ‘green’ credentials the business has:
“We’ve got several different certifications”, she explains, “from being FSC and PEFC certified so that our label making doesn’t adversely affect forests, to being a member of the Zero Waste to Landfill initiative. This is an optional membership programme where we pay to be part of a collaboration to reduce landfill waste. We collect label waste from our clients and send it off, twice a week, so a business who can burn it and put the energy that creates to use in the same way as we would fossil fuels.”
It’s not enough to simply burn what we don’t want or can’t recycle
Sarah goes on to explain that this burning process is fundamentally different to waste incineration, which is what happens to non-recyclable materials in some parts of the country. Incineration is simply a means of getting rid of waste, it contributes to air pollution so isn’t environmentally friendly. However, the burning of label waste is instead used to power machinery for companies such as cement giant, Cemex, thus saving on fossil fuel usage. The ash produced is even swept back into the concrete they produce so the label waste ends up with a zero footprint.
Xpress Labels have had to be innovative with their processes because there is currently no consistent recycling programme for labels in the UK. So, they supply labels that can easily be removed and recycled.
The labels used on the Home Loving products also have a low percentage of ink coverage as too much ink can also hamper the recycling process. And the label, ink and adhesive are all vegan products making the labels 100% animal friendly too.
It’s easy to question why, in 2021, we still can’t easily recycle more materials. I asked Sarah her opinion on this.
“In actual fact, quite a lot has changed, but there are just so many different elements that need addressing” says Sarah. “We’ve always been keen to be as planet-friendly as possible and our values show that. We try to bring our customers along with us if they have an appetite for change. We offer continuous improvement schemes (which Home Loving is part of) so that clients can agree in advance to be made aware of changes immediately and can then adopt them into their processes. But the simple fact is, with so many coated materials, labelling requirements and mixed materials in the supply chain, it’s actually mixed recycling which is struggling.”
Xpress Labels operates under brand pillars, which are customer service, knowledge, consistent quality and short lead times. By adhering to these, they deliver their promise of always listening to their customers’ needs and providing the best, realistic solution. They also keep up to date with all the latest technology and developments and the entire management team have committed to drive electric cars, just to do their extra bit for the planet.
Finally I ask Sarah if we should be worried about the state of recycling in the UK.
“We are always getting updates on new initiatives and developments, so things are actually moving quite quickly. We all have a choice as business owners to use the right materials, but we do of course have to balance costs and operational constraints with that. However, we’re committed to the cause and we’re confident things are going in the right direction. That’s why it’s really rewarding when we get a client like Home Loving because we know you feel the same way and, together, we can start to make a real difference.”