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Learn how the right pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs) can address shipping label challenges to help increase reusable packaging and reduce environmental impact. 

As the ecommerce industry looks to reduce environmental impact, more package delivery companies are establishing initiatives to collect gently used package materials, encouraging end users to reuse packaging that includes corrugate, plastic, cartons, mailers and film envelopes. 

While these initiatives help package delivery companies reduce reliance on new packaging materials for every delivery, they can pose challenges for you as a label converter. Fortunately, certain pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs) can help you address the challenges that come with offering a reliable shipping label. Learn about the main challenges and how the right PSAs help overcome these issues.   

Challenge #1: Substrate Compatibility 

To help package delivery companies increase package reusability, they need to use a shipping label adhesive that is reliable for multiple substrates, including corrugate, plastic, film and paper. If the adhesive is not compatible with one or more of these substrates, it may prevent a package from being reusable and contributing to the circular economy. Additionally, it can increase delivery costs for companies, as they may need to seek alternative packaging options or find new shipping label adhesives that align with each package substrate. 

What the Right PSA Formulation Should Provide:

It’s important to select PSA technologies that are specifically formulated for a wide application range. This will help ensure the PSA can adhere to multiple substrates, including corrugate, plastic, film and paper needed for package delivery companies. Some capabilities to consider in your PSA technology to achieve compatibility include: 

  • Strong tack: PSA technologies with excellent tack help improve bonding for difficult-to-bond and low surface energy substrates, such as highly recycled corrugate, by enabling quick, high-strength adhesion. 
  • Peel adhesion: If the package delivery company is reusing a package, it may have more uneven surfaces than it did during its initial use. Peel adhesion helps the label adhesive conform to any irregularities in the surface to help ensure maximum contact.  

A PSA technology with these features can reduce delivery costs as well as streamline the overall production time for packaging. This is because companies can depend on a single shipping label adhesive solution for all their substrates. Further, it can help prevent slow-downs in choosing a compatible package structure to reuse for a product and reduce the risk of a shipping label coming off during transport. If you as the converter have companies that are relying on you for one shipping label that works with all their substrates, it’s important to also consider a PSA technology that helps you run efficient processes to keep up with demand by offering: 

  • Broad application usage: A PSA technology with flexibility can help you address numerous application needs on one production line,  allowing you to streamline processes and maximize production efficiency. This can help you rely on one PSA technology to reduce overall changeouts and energy usage in your facility, which also serves to decrease costs. 
  • Fast setup times: Utilizing PSAs that are quick to cool and solidify allows you to handle the material faster for the next set of production steps without added downtime compared to other options. This helps create efficient assembly process times so you can achieve a high throughput rate. 

Challenge #2: Temperatures 

When a package is being transported from one location to another, there is often minimal control over the temperatures that the package will endure throughout the delivery process unless it’s clearly noted for certain products such as refrigerated food. Therefore, the label adhesive must be capable of enduring those temperatures as well. If the adhesive cannot perform throughout extreme temperatures or various temperature changes, it could cause the shipping label to come off the package, resulting in delivery issues at the destination. In some cases, such as with refrigerated food, a lost label could also lead to additional waste.

What the Right PSA Formulation Should Provide: 

In order to help ensure there are no issues with label adhesion, it is recommended to use a PSA technology with a wide temperature range to prevent any issues. PSA formulations designed to maintain adhesion throughout various temperatures offer great low temperature bonding between -10°F to 0°F. Once bonded and in use with a shipping label, PSAs provide a service temperature range between -50°F to 125°F. This helps ensure the shipping label will not lose adhesion performance if moving through different climates during transportation. Further, if the delivery truck itself is warmer or colder inside than the outside temperature, it can also endure the extreme heat or cold and stay on the package. There are also PSA technologies that offer wide temperature ranges specifically for refrigeration or freezer-related temperatures.  

Which PSA Technologies Address Ecommerce Shipping Label Challenges 
 

Compatible with facestock on direct thermal paper, both waterborne acrylic and hot melt PSAs can help you address the noted challenges of substrate compatibility and temperature.  

Waterborne acrylic PSAs are a solventless solution commonly used for shipping label applications. As an emulsion formulation, they build adhesion over time, enabling an easy peel. They have very high tack and rapid wet out on rough surfaces, allowing for a wide application range including low surface energy package structures. Due to their low temperature bonding, waterborne acrylic PSAs also enable high coating speeds for various coating equipment such as slot die and reverse gravure, helping you reduce downtime and deliver shipping labels at high volumes. Waterborne acrylic PSAs provide a wide range of temperature solutions to enhance performance in changing climate conditions.  

Hot melt PSAs offer another reliable option in manufacturing shipping labels to help increase package circular recycling. Comprised of 100% solids, hot melt PSAs can be reheated and reused if desired, helping contribute to recyclability efforts. They also offer wide application usage with strong tack and peel adhesion, especially for difficult-to-bond substrates such as corrugate or post-consumer recycled content. Hot melt PSAs provide fast set up times to streamline assembly processes, and they can incorporate bio-based raw materials to further enhance the packaging’s overall sustainability if desired. They offer a wide temperature range with the ability to adhere in refrigerated or freezer temperature conditions.  

How Bostik’s PSA Technologies Can Help 

As the adhesive solutions segment of Arkema, Bostik offers the most robust PSA portfolio in the market. Our range of coater-ready, waterborne acrylic and hot melt PSA formulations can help address your specific performance needs and allow you to become a go-to manufacturer for package delivery companies looking to utilize shipping labels.  

Bostik’s Flexcryl™ product line is designed to help you address ecommerce package label needs.  

  • Our waterborne acrylic PSAs provide:  
    • Very high tack and rapid wet out on rough surfaces to enhance substrate compatibility levels 
    • Low temperature bonding to improve energy usage and increase processing 
    • 175.105 indirect food contact compliance to address food packaging specifications 
  • Our hot melt PSAs offer:  
    • Strong tack and peel to enhance substrate compatibility 
    • Fast setup times to improve automated assembly processing  
    • Ability to adhere across wide temperature range to maintain adhesion throughout delivery 
    • Compatibility with bio-based raw materials to increase sustainability 

Along with our PSA solutions, you’ll also receive: 

  • Technical support: Our team of experts will help determine the right PSA technology based on your performance needs and coating capabilities. We help with trial testing so you can continue regular production schedules until you have made a decision on the right solution. 
  • Troubleshooting: We are here to help you address any issues that may arise on your coating lines, helping identify ways to improve for a streamlined production. 

Are you ready to help package delivery companies increase their circular recycling by providing a shipping label? Contact a Bostik expert to learn how our PSA technologies can help overcome challenges to help provide a reliable solution. 

Other relevant content: 

On-Demand Webinar: Understanding the Value of an All-Temperature, Wash-Off Label Adhesive 

Logistical Label Adhesives 

Can Your Shipping Labels Withstand Ecommerce Changes?  

©2024 Bostik, Inc. All Rights Reserved

All information contained herein is believed to be accurate as of the date of publication, is provided “as-is” and is subject to change without notice. To review our full U.S. Legal Disclaimer, visit: https://bostik.com/us/en_US/privacy-policy/legal-disclaimer

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