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Sustainable Barcode Labeling Supports Overall Sustainability

Jenna Wagner

Sustainable Barcode Labeling Supports Overall Sustainability


Sustainability is no longer a fringe trend. According to Harvard Business Review, “Virtually all of the world’s largest companies now issue a sustainability report and set goals; more than 2,000 companies have set a science-based carbon target; and about one-third of Europe’s largest public companies have pledged to reach net zero by 2050.” Companies can no longer rely on meaningless “greenwashing” to attach to sustainability as a trend; consumers and investors are demanding real action.


Sustainability involves reducing the use of resources to maintain and protect the environment. Businesses have countless ways to pursue sustainability, from recycling programs to natural resource stewardship. Sustainable barcode labeling can contribute to a business’ sustainability program by reducing the amount of resources required for everyday processes.


What is sustainable barcode labeling? Sustainable barcode labeling can be defined as, “A method to reduce resource use within the barcode label printing process.”




Read this blog to learn how to implement sustainable barcode labeling processes that support your sustainability goals.


Reduce resource use with lean labeling


Sustainable barcode labeling and lean labeling go hand-in-hand. The goal of lean labeling is to reduce waste within the label printing system without sacrificing productivity. Reducing waste means reducing resource use. By following the lean labeling process, companies can trim their barcode labeling process down to use only the time, materials, and energy that are truly required.


The lean labeling process


The lean labeling process is a simple and repeatable five-step process to make your barcode labeling system more efficient and sustainable.


  1. Identify waste
  2. Analyze the root cause
  3. Solve the root cause
  4. Measure results
  5. Repeat!


Learn how to implement the lean labeling process in our lean labeling blog and eBook.


Next, let’s identify some ways to solve common causes of labeling waste using sustainable barcode labeling processes.


Sustainable label print automation & integration


Looking for a quick sustainability win? Automating label printing is the most impactful way to reduce wasted resources in your label process.


Depending on your current labeling process, there are a variety of ways to automate label printing and reduce wasted resources for greater sustainability.


Ordering pre-printed labels?


Pre-printed labels are the #1 culprit for physical waste in a label printing process! Not only do pre-printed labels take a long time to be fulfilled, but they almost always require a minimum order quantity. Companies that order pre-printed labels are then stuck storing rolls and rolls of labels, taking up valuable facility space. When branding, artwork, or labeling regulations change, all those pre-printed labels are destined for the trash. Many traditional label papers have plastic-based liners or coating that cannot be recycled, so that trash ends up in a landfill.


The solution: on-demand label printing


On-demand label printing eliminates the need to rely on a vendor for pre-printed labels. Instead, your staff uses label design software to create and print the labels when you need them. Branding, artwork, and regulatory changes can be made quickly, so production can continue without waiting for new labels to arrive. This can be a huge advantage when launching new or updated products, including re-releasing products with more eco-friendly ingredients or switching to recyclable or compostable packaging.


Printing on-demand but entering data manually?


If your staff is typing in label data at print time, that manual data entry is a labeling error waiting to happen. Whether a typo occurs on a label print run of 10 or 10,000, those labels become physical waste. If the labels have already been applied to products or packaging, the waste is that much greater.


The solution: smart label templates connected to data sources


Eliminate manual data entry from your labeling process by creating smart label templates with variable fields connected to data sources. Some examples include:



Staff spending too much time opening and printing labels?


Even with smart label templates, your staff may still be searching for label files, opening, and clicking print in the label design application. For a high-volume company, these extra minutes add up to hours and days of wasted time.


The solution: label print automation software


Label print automation software is a technology that runs in the background and is connected to your existing business system (ERP, WMS, or any other). Based on your company’s unique needs, the label print automation software waits for a trigger from your business system. The trigger could be a new database record, an exported file, or a RESTful API call. The label print automation software reads the request and prints the required labels with the proper data, all without any human interactions.


Learn more about ways to automate your label printing process.


Sustainable label design & print process


Labeling errors can cause a huge amount of waste: wasted label stock, wasted packaging, wasted time, and wasted energy. An important part of creating a more sustainable barcode labeling process is tightening control around label template creation and approval to prevent labeling errors from happening.


A paperless label approval process reduces the risk of labeling errors while saving time and resources, leading to more sustainable operations.


Steps to implementing a paperless label approval process


  1. Determine who needs to approve labels. This could be one person, or it could be representatives from multiple departments. Determine whether the process is different for a completely new label versus an existing label that’s been updated.
  2. Define the order of approval steps. Depending on your requirements, the order of approvals could be very important. Does the product team need to verify the data before marketing approves the fonts and logos? Should quality control be the final step after other departments? Ask yourself these questions and any others that apply to your company.
  3. Give authorized users appropriate access. Set permissions and password requirements within the user management module of your labeling software. Design permissions should be assigned to as few users as possible to avoid unintended edits to label templates.
  4. Avoid the pitfall of emailing label files back and forth. Implement paperless label approval software that’s built to centralize label storage and manage the approval process.


Learn more about the benefits of a paperless label approval process and discover LABEL ARCHIVE label approval software.


Sustainable centralized label management


Sustainability and efficiency go hand-in-hand, and the ultimate way to bring efficiency to your barcode labeling environment is to leverage a centralized label management system. Here are four ways the efficiency of a centralized labeling system can support your organization’s sustainability goals:


  1. Consolidation and standardization of labeling software is the first step to an efficient labeling system. A centralized label management system eliminates the need for individual local software installations at each location and workstation. This saves your IT team time, energy, and travel resources.
  2. Centralized label management includes label print automation and paperless label approval software, so you can take advantage of the benefits discussed above.
  3. A centralized label management system can be enabled in the cloud, reducing the need for on-site hardware. You can reallocate space in your server room to more value-added resources.
  4. On-site servers use a lot of electricity and generate a lot of heat, requiring more energy to cool them down. Reducing servers can have a real impact on your company’s carbon footprint.


Support overall sustainability by implementing sustainable barcode labeling


Sustainability can no longer be an afterthought for companies competing in today’s market. It must be a strategic initiative that informs all aspects of your business operations.


The labeling experts at TEKLYNX can help you take small steps towards sustainable barcode labeling that have a big impact on your company’s overall sustainability initiatives. Be sure to include barcode labeling in your sustainability plans and budgets. Get started by contacting TEKLYNX to learn more.



About Jenna


Jenna Wagner, Global Marketing Director, is a successful strategic marketing executive with over 20 years of marketing experience in software technology and consulting services. She is a creative, dynamic, results-driven leader who possesses a passion for developing her teams.  She leverages her deep understanding of the solutions and industries she serves to deliver impactful customer value throughout the global supply chain to help organizations barcode better.    


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