by Adam KROLAK
Thursday, March 9, 2023

How switching to laser coding can help with your sustainability KPIs

Among the myriad of challenges faced by manufacturers today are ever-increasing raw material and energy prices, disruptions to supply chains and increasing demand, from both consumers and regulators, for more eco-friendly packaging materialsWhilst many elements are beyond the control of processors and manufacturers, in the area of supporting sustainability goals, laser coding and marking with can instantly help cut contamination and carbon footprints.


More recyclable substrates

Naturally the focus on reducing packaging’s carbon footprint is creating a transition to more recyclable substrates including mono-material films and compostable packaging. In this respect, several leading food and beverage brands aim to make 100% of their packaging recyclable globally by 2025, and to use at least 50% recycled material in their packaging by 2030.

In pursuit of these industry wide and regulatory goals, food packaging such as wraps and bags are now transitioning to PET and PLA films rather than polystyrene, and mono-films (PE and PP), as opposed to multilayer/multi-material solutions. Similarly, food and FMCG brands are moving from multi-material composites to PP or PE mono-films. Plus, rigid and semi-rigid containers, bottles and jars are increasingly made from mono or recyclable materials.


The coding solution

The global shift to sustainable and recyclable packaging materials in turn presents challenges in both maintaining marking and coding print quality and ensuring that the processes involved in this help achieve carbon reduction targets. The solution: laser coding!

This technology is inherently able to support sustainability goals on the production line through the benefits of being chemical free, providing permanent codes and, through the latest innovations – reducing some of the energy requirements associated with coding with laser. Unlike others forms of marking, laser maintains compliant, high-quality, permanent codes – even on the latest recyclable and sustainable substrates.


Laser supports recyclability

chemical-free coding solution has historically been the preferred option for many manufacturers, particularly in food and beverage where regulations demand it. Laser marking and coding paves the way for a simpler recycling process.

It may be stating the obvious, but with laser the code is permanent. This has always been a huge advantage for reasons of traceability, compliance, and brand protection. As we achieve more sustainability this also becomes important for the circular economy. Permanent codes make it possible to track the packaging across the whole cycle. When, for example, a PET bottle is returned to the manufacturer, the code can be scanned, checked for the number of returns, cleaned and refilled for sale. In this scenario, the permanent laser codes facilitate the tracking of the packaging, ensuring it is reused as many times as possible, and equally importantly, not over-used.


Markem-Imaje improving sustainability KPIs

Further progressing laser’s advantages are the most innovative models which can help reduce energy use. Take for example, Markem-Imaje’s SmartLase C600 laser, released last year, its fastest laser printer to date, which includes an innovative, integrated air-cooling system, exceptional for the laser power and efficiency afforded. The C600 can offer an energy saving of up to 50% on cooling when compared to traditional water cooling and 33% when compared against air cooling. 

As industry prepares to meet today’s unprecedented environmental challenges, there are proven technologies that can make a change today and help boost manufacturers’ sustainability KPIs in the process. Laser coding is already stepping-up to the mark.

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