Choosing Between Wrap-Around or Shrink-Sleeve Labels for Bottles and Containers
As printing technology progresses, bottle labeling costs continue to decrease, opening up options for labeling alternatives to wrap-around sleeves like shrink sleeves. Currently, wrap-around labels dominate the bottling market because they are economical for smaller manufacturers and distribution runs. However, as printing allows for more affordable product runs, choosing between shrink and wrap-around sleeved cans becomes more challenging.
Determining which labelling method is best for your product line is difficult. You must factor in the costs and capabilities of each label type. Labelling experts suggest there are four categories of consideration.
In today’s market, most companies want labels that offer full coverage for 360° branding, which includes the added benefit of reducing manufacturing complexity. Wrap-around labels are only suitable for flat surfaces, meaning they will not provide full coverage for contoured bottles.
Wrap-around labels are suitable when a manufacturer wants to prioritize what’s inside the bottle with minimal front and back labeling. Also, to improve viewing, you can opt for clear wrap-around labels, as long as the contents are not light-sensitive. If the product is light-sensitive, wrap-around labels also have opaque options.
Shrink sleeves can provide full coverage, increasing the labeling area by as much as 150%. The sleeves can conform to any shaped container or bottle. You can also find shrink labels in transparent and opaque options; however, for light-sensitive contents, a shrink sleeve offers more protection.
Essentially, for cylindrical bottles or containers, there is little difference between wrap-around and shrink sleeves. You will gain the most benefit from shrink sleeves on curvaceous bottles or containers with complex sides and contours.
Wrap-around sleeves are only as durable as the substrates you choose. Choosing the appropriate materials and adhesives for packaging, transportation, and storage makes it possible to create a somewhat durable label for many conditions and temperature extremes. However, wrap-around labels will always be more susceptible to condensation, temperature changes, and other harsh conditions than shrink sleeves.
Shrink sleeves do not require adhesives, meaning temperature and moisture changes do not affect them. Also, shrink sleeves can provide greater structural stability, allowing manufacturers to choose bottles with a reduced plastic content. However, shrink sleeves do not have a clear advantage over their wrap-around counterparts for abrasion resistance.
3. Environmental Concerns
If environmental friendliness tops your concerns for labels, opt for a paper-based wrap-around sleeve. Not only can consumers remove paper-based, adhesive-backed sleeves with little effort and minimal cleaning, but it is also possible to leave the labels on when recycling. If consumers do not recycle and throw the container away, the paper-based label will decompose quickly.
While shrink sleeves are easy to remove, allowing customers to reuse containers, recycling issues exist. The Association of Plastic Recyclers and European Bottle Platform guidelines require flotation-separable, low-density labels for simplified recycling. Unfortunately, many shrink label options are PVC-based, meaning they are not recyclable. Also, research suggests consumers are unlikely to recycle PETG labels.
Considering production costs, a wrap-around sleeve is cheaper to produce. On average, a shrink sleeve costs about 25% more per container. However, companies need to consider volume and shape when ordering container labels.
For high-volume applications, shrink sleeves are often more cost-effective. The labels also provide marketing advantages over wrap-around sleeves because of the increased coverage area. However, with complex package shapes, designers must consider the amount of shrinkage and how it will affect the final layout.
Choosing the right bottle sleeves for your products will depend on many factors. Shrink sleeves likely provide the most durable, full-coverage option, but wrap-around sleeves are environmentally friendly and possibly more economical. The decision of the right sleeve will often come down to producer preference, production costs, and the product. Contact a labelling expert from Kinsbrae Packaging for more assistance.