Before we can figure out if linerless labels are worth the hype or if they're just the latest marketing buzzword from the label industry, it's important that we start with the basics.
So, what, exactly, are linerless labels?
Adhesive labels are most often produced with a backing or liner. You peel the label from the liner and stick it wherever you want and then toss the liner.
Linerless labels, on the other hand, adhere to themselves. The silicone-coated labels are, essentially, their own liners. A special manufacturing process coats the back of the label with an adhesive that is easily peeled off the surface of the label beneath it yet securely grips the surface where it’s meant to go. Basically, linerless labels stick to themselves, at least until you put them in their final resting place.
Because of the nature of linerless labels (i.e. no liners), they have many advantages.
- You can fit twice as many labels on a roll because there’s no liner to take up half the space.
- You’ll replace label rolls on your production or shipping line half as often, which means less down time for the manufacturing process.
- You’ll cut shipping costs by 50 percent because there will be twice as many labels per box compared to standard labels.
- You’ll need half as much storage space for linerless labels.
- You’ll save money on waste disposal and janitorial costs because there are no liners to discard or gather up from your production area.
- Your workplace will be safer. Removing the slippery silicone on peel-and-stick label liners from your manufacturing area reduces the risk of slip-and-fall accidents.
It's time to save on your labeling costs. Don't worry: it's only a little simple math.
When converters weigh their labeling options, costs are typically at the forefront of the discussion. Linerless labels offer a cost-efficient labeling alternative to its lined label counterparts. Since it does not have a liner, more labels can be wound onto a roll: approximately 40% more per roll. Not only are you getting more labels per roll, you're decreasing the amount of time used for change overs, saving manufacturing cost and production time.
And since weight is such a big aspect of shipping, removing the weight of the additional liners, means that linerless labels equal lower freight costs when it comes to getting them into your facility. Basically, without the release liners, the weight of the roll is reduced, so they cost less that ordinary label rolls to ship.
The release coating on linerless labels not only prevent the adhesive from sticking to the labels beneath it, it also serves as a protective coating for chemical, UV, and moisture resistance, which can greatly prolong the label’s shelf life.
Greener and safer: Are you considering all the upsides of linerless labels?
Think about it: liners are pure waste. You can't burn them or recycle them, so each year, about 370K tons of label liners waste enters US landfills. But, by using linerless labels, the liner is eliminated, waste is reduced, and you're doing your part for Mother Earth.
You're also helping your workers. Because as silly as it might sound, leftover liners can be a warehouse safety hazard, so the use of linerless labels will offer a crucial safety measure, particularly when the labels are being applied to products. When using traditional labels, slippery silicone release liners may be discarded on warehouse floors, creating slip and fall potentials.
By eliminating discarded label liners from the work environment, you are able to minimize, if not prevent, these potential work-related injuries. Plus, as an added bonus, your facility's productivity will increase now that workers no longer need to spend their valuable time managing and disposing of label liners.
But it's not all cost benefits, safer workers, and a greener facility; linerless labels have a downside too.
- Linerless labels cost as much as peel-and-stick labels, if not more. If you’re looking solely to save money on the individuval label cost, going linerless probably isn’t the answer.
- You’ll need a special printer. If you don’t already have one, you’ll have to spend several thousand dollars to purchase a printer that smoothly rolls linerless labels over a silicone roller.
It's time to weigh the pros and cons.
Linerless labels have several benefits. But similar to other labels, this type does not come without a few disadvantages. One major drawback of linerless labels is the use of additional equipment when applying the labels on a product. More often than not, the introduction of linerless label printing to the company’s workflow involves investing in a new machinery. The added cost of the purchase may seem counter productive and not a cost effective solution, especially in times of economic recession.
Another issue label converters have linerless that has limited shapes. Like household tape, you only get either a square or a rectangle-shaped label. For some manufacturers, the lack of release liners is a downside as the label will not have something to hold it in place when die-cut.
Because these labels do not have release liners, some prospective users see it as a disadvantage. What many prospects do not realize, though, is that same quality is what makes a linerless label the leaner, greener, and smarter labeling option.
Using linerless labels have outstanding environmental benefits: eliminating lines minimizes waste sent to landfills. Also, release liners have silicone. By reducing its use, silicone waste (a substance that is difficult to recycle) is eliminated. Aside from offering green environmental benefits, adopting a linerless solution for printing labels can significantly increase your savings and productivity. No release liner means more labels are wound on each roll. And more labels further means less label roll changes and reduced production downtime, ultimately resulting to increased productivity. Although the initial cost of linerless labels is higher, diminishing the use of labels with release liners translates to reduced inventory space, more savings on storage, material and freight costs, and decreased potential workplace injuries.
At the end of the day, choosing to go with linerless labels or not are an individual facility decision. You have to ask if linerless labels are right for your operation or your workers because they might be: they’re ideal for employees who need highly mobile printing solutions. For example, linerless labels have been very popular with nurses, who tote the small, lightweight printers on their hips to label medications and patient records.