Label & artwork management: the hidden killers of sustainable packaging

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The pressure on businesses to take responsibility for their environmental impact grows daily. With the 2025 deadline for corporate pledges on zero plastic waste fast approaching, businesses must act now to improve sustainability. Packaging is front and centre of the whole sustainability argument, but the task of shifting to sustainable packaging practices is not as straightforward as it seems. Any changes to packaging, in material or size, has an often overlooked ripple effect on labels and artwork, resulting in lengthy production delays and costly product recalls.

Bob Tilling, VP of Sales at Kallik, argues that comprehensive label and artwork management solutions will revolutionise this packaging change process and make sustainability attainable for any business – with minimal disruption and zero risk.

The push for businesses to become more sustainable is widespread across every industry, and especially in consumer-facing ones. This isn’t just top-down pressure – the drive for sustainability is consumer-led as eco-conscious consumers demand more sustainable options. As many as two-thirds of U.S. online consumers believe companies should be responsible for protecting the environment. Consumers will reward companies that provide sustainable options. This is already starting to take effect as larger businesses begin to make the move to sustainable packaging, with multinational consumer goods companies such as P&G launching sustainable cardboard boxes for laundry products, deciding to take action and phase out their plastic containers in response to environmental pressures.

This focus on sustainability will only continue to grow as the market challenges of supply chain shortages and net zero targets deepen economic headaches for firms. The deadline for 2025 sustainable packaging pledges draws near and business leaders need to act now.

The reward is high for those that make the change to sustainable business practices now

There is clear demand for sustainably packaged goods, with up to 70% of consumers saying they are willing to pay more for products with sustainable packaging. This market will only grow as consumers become more empowered to take climate action into their own hands. Businesses that change their packaging practices to more environmentally friendly methods have an increased chance to grab market share and reap the improvements to brand reputation – all of which translate to increased profits. The consequences of not acting on sustainability can be severe, even resulting in a decrease in share price.

The hidden killer for sustainability campaigns – label and artwork management

However, the task of switching to sustainable packaging practices is far more complex than a simple change in material or reduction in packaging size. The associated changes required for label and artwork assets are often grossly overlooked in terms of scale and time frame.

For instance, one leading multinational consumer goods company currently has over 300,000 pieces of artwork, which require up to 60,000 minor changes per year. This is the scope of label and artwork management even before full-scale updates of entire product lines for sustainable packaging are required. The amount of time it takes to alter recycling symbols for each product based on the material type, regional recycling regulations and languages, as well as the storage and recycling instructions for every region and every language could stretch into months.

Not only does the manual process of updating this many label and artwork assets take time, but the complex alterations could easily fall subject to human error and inaccuracies, resulting in lengthy delays – assuming they’re caught before shipment. Even worse, these errors could lead to costly recalls and serious damage to brand reputation if they are not discovered in time. For many businesses this means the decision to adopt more sustainable packaging practices is too big a risk to take.

Accuracy is part and parcel of the automation process, and the essential ingredient of sustainability

Businesses need a powerful, purpose-built label and artwork management solution to do the heavy lifting and make the change to sustainable packaging practices less of a risk and more of a guaranteed success.

An integrated label and artwork management (LAM) solution completely automates the process for updating label and artwork assets. For example, the rules engine function within the Kallik Veraciti™ LAM platform automatically applies predetermined rules on regulatory requirements for each geography to label and artwork assets. This ensures full regulatory compliance every time, as the system auto-corrects when design alterations change the level of compliance. Here, the removal of manual intervention reduces the risk of human error and ensures every asset is altered to the same standard. This improves the accuracy of updates and ensures they are fully compliant with the regulations of each market.

Speed up the process, but slow down the errors

The process of manually altering just one piece of artwork could take up to one hour but with an automated LAM solution, artwork cycle times are decreased to only five minutes per asset. Rather than editing each asset one by one, once programmed a LAM software solution can update all label and artwork assets at once with uniform precision. This significantly reduces cycle times and ensures the accuracy and compliance of every label and artwork.

Cut out the middleman and cut out the cost

The cost of outsourcing this process to a label and artwork management company could reach up to $3 million per year. A LAM solution cuts the costs of label updates by automating the label and artwork management processes, reducing the number of people required to process asset updates, and allowing label and artwork management to be brought in-house. Solutions such as Veraciti™ have recurring returns on investment as the system stores all existing asset information in one place with advanced search features for enhanced visibility, making future updates to labels and artwork easier. This is especially useful where supply chain shortages and regulatory changes are likely to cause further label updates that require fast action.

Businesses don’t need to hedge their bets on sustainability – the outcome is guaranteed with LAM

With the streamlined processes of LAM solutions, businesses can freely choose any method of sustainable packaging adoption that suits them, whether it be a change in materials or the rightsizing of packaging – without the risk of label and artwork delays and inaccuracies. A comprehensive LAM solution significantly improves the label and artwork update process by streamlining asset data and automating batch updates, so that any businesses can make the change to sustainable packaging.