Guide to Recycling Labels

Labels on recycled plastic bottles

Guide to Recycling Labels

Recyclable Labels

According to The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) the recycling rate for UK homes has risen to 45% of all household waste in 2017.  Whilst we are all recycling more, are we recycling our labels properly?

Let’s talk about recyclable labels for a moment. What can you, as someone who buys labels for your product packaging, do to ensure your customer’s recycled labels aren’t contaminating recycled waste.

Official Advice on Recycling Labels

The official advice is remove your labels – but no one will do that in reality.   The solution: to stop contamination is to match the label material to the packing material.  That means that the labels need to be made from the same material as the packaging.

One other consideration is adhesive.  We thought adhesive might be a problem so we asked the experts.  According to Suffolk based metal and waste recycling specialists, Sackers Ltd, label adhesive is a small problem and is processed easily.  High volumes of labels (i.e. a skip full) could not be put through the recycling process and would need to be burned for energy.

There is no need to remove labels from items, the recycling process can handle them.

Advice from Sackers Ltd was: if in doubt put it out for recycling – anything that can’t be recycled is burned to produce energy.  This piece of advice needs to be taken with care, as each UK local authority has different waste to energy capabilities.

If you want help matching labels to packaging call us for advice.

Labels on Glass Bottles and Jars

So despite this rule of matching labels to packaging – you might have noticed – not many labels are made from glass.  So what do we do about labelling bottles?

Our advice – apply a paper label.  If your customer’s recycling process involves washing first – then the labels will be washed off.  If it is crushed then put in a furnace, the labels and glue will burn off.

Which Labels can be Recycled?

Paper Labels

Paper Labels
Paper labels

Paper labels can only be recycled with paper or board packaging.

If your paper labels are placed on plastic bottles ask for a ‘wash off’ adhesive to make the recycling process much easier.

Even if your paper labels are blended with other materials, it could still be placed in the recycling bin as it can be burned and used for energy.

The only thing that cannot be recycled is a label stuck to film, unfortunately, this will end up in landfill.

Plastic labels

Labels are usually made from Polypropylene (PP) or Polyethylene (PE).  Luckily, most packaging material is made from PP and PE.  Both can be recycled together.

Make Label Recycling Easy for Your Customers

If you are buying labels from us, this is what you can do to improve recycling.

  • Match the correct label material to your product packaging.  For example: paper labels onto paper or cardboard packaging and PE or PP labels on PE and PP packaging.
Recycling labels - paper labels on cardboard
Paper labels on cardboard
  • If you have correctly matched your labels and packaging, tell your product consumers to leave the labels on, clean any bottles or containers and put them into the recycling bin.
  • Clearly print the Recycling logo on your packaging.
  • Do not apply compostable labels to plastic or glass packaging that can be recycled.
  • Ask customers not to put compostable labels into the recycle bin.

Recycling Label Backing Paper

Label backing material
Label backing material

Label backing paper is made to be strong enough to be pulled through printing presses but it’s also designed to be translucent, so the sensors in the printer can see the gaps between labels.

Because it needs to be strong, backing paper is not a good material to make from recycled paper.

Backing paper is also coated in non-stick silicon which makes it less desirable for recycling.  There is a recycling company, here in the UK, who takes backing paper and label waste, but sadly, it just gets turned into energy.

Laminated labels

Paper labels are sometimes coated in plastic to give them durability.

Laminated Labels
Laminated Labels

These types of labels cannot be recycled.  They can be burned and used in energy recovery programmes.

Useful links

See our range of environmentally friendly labels here:


The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)’s Blog – highlighting recycling rates in 2017/18

Sustainable Labels

Sustainable Labels

There is a lot of talk about limiting the harm we’re doing to our environment.  Being sustainable is the ability to live without depleting our natural resources.  Modern packaging is often held up as a culprit in the damage we are doing to our environment.  This article will help you understand how sustainable labels really are.

Sustainability is both the materials the labels are made from and the process the labels are made under.

There are always two sides to many of the points raised in this article.  For example: the forests grown in order to make paper are good for capturing CO2 but, as they are usually grown in large single species plantations – this can be bad for bio-diversity.  I’m not writing this article to promote one side or the other in this debate.  Our business is focused on labels – but we all depend on the environment for our survival as a species.

Paper label manufacturing

The paper making process uses water, wood and energy and leads to water and air pollution.  Paper manufacturing accounts for up to 5% of pollution in North America.  In the last few decades paper mills have reduced their pollution significantly and I’m sure technology  and innovation will reduce the environmental impact further, however paper isn’t without it’s harmful byproducts.

paper mill
Pollution from paper mills

Water is the ultimate recycled product.  Should we worry about water use in paper making?  If it’s cleaned and returned to rivers and lakes, water consumption in paper making isn’t a problem.

Paper’s main raw material – wood – is renewable and good for CO2 capture. 

Mono-culture forest
Mono-culture forest for paper production

Energy use – Whilst paper product uses huge amounts of energy, most of it is sourced from bio-mass energy generation.

All the labels we supply are paper or plastic. 

All the paper we supply comes from sustainable sources (i.e trees that are farmed as opposed to tropical rainforest).  However, paper is usually made using chemicals that are harmful to the environment.  

Chlorine is used in the paper making process – to whiten the paper.  As you would probably guess, Chlorine is toxic and, as a by-product of paper production, is harmful to the environment.  Our standard paper label material uses chlorine, though the same chlorine compound is used to treat drinking water. 

Sustainable Paper Labels

Standard paper labels are made from virgin paper with chlorine bleaching. Paper is sustainable, but the paper production process has a significantly damaging effect on the environment

We are able to supply a recycled paper label that is chlorine free, with a wood free backing paper (the paper that the labels are stuck to on the roll).  Interestingly people rarely ask for recycled paper labels and the availability of the material is limited.  Contact us and ask us about recycled paper labels.

Plastic Labels

Most of the labels we supply are made from Polypropylene (PP) or Polyethylene (PE).

This type of plastic label is made from oil, but is easily recycled.  The most recent figures I found for the proportion of plastic that’s recycled was from 2008 and 21% of plastic was recycled. 

However, plastic labels are not biodegradable (unless you count hundreds of years as biodegradable), are harmful to nature and are non-renewable. 

From a marketing point of view, plastic labels are not popular.

Sustainable Plastic Labels

More popular label materials are PP and PE labels made from corn, coconut or potato.  These starch-based plastics are sometimes compostable.  They are not widely available and relatively expensive, but we are able to supply you with them.  The best we can obtain is 83% sugar cane derived material, 17% oil-based.  Contact us for a quote.

Clear and white plastics made from wood pulp – cellulose – if made from sustainable forestry products are an extremely eco-responsible way of making labels.  There are cellulose based labels available, though they are water soluble, so not suitable for long term storage in wet places (i.e. not good for products destined for bathroooms). 

Not only are these labels sustainable – they are also biodegradable.  See our biodegradable range here.

Useful links

Wikipedia’s article on the environmental impact of paper:

British Plastics Federation (perhaps a little biased – but it quotes the recycling rate of plastic)

Bioplastics Article at ‘Explain that stuff’:

Print Station: BarTender’s Label Printing Secret

Print Station: BarTender’s Label Printing Secret

BarTender Print Station

Print Station is BarTender's Label Printing Front End

Printing labels with BarTender can be a little time consuming. 

First you need to open BarTender, then you need to find the label file.  Once you’ve found the label file you need to open it.  The next step is to choose print from the menu and start the printing process.  

Printing labels is not difficult, but if you rarely use BarTender, finding the correct label and remembering the printing process might take time.

BarTender Print Station, a BarTender ‘companion app’, is BarTender’s solution to this.  Print Station is included with all BarTender editions and makes printing labels so simple, a five year old could do it.

How to Use BarTender's Print Station

Look at the image at the top of this post if you want to see Print Station in action.

How to use Print Station:

  1. Open Print Station from your computer’s start menu.
  2. Look through the label thumbnail images until you see the label you want.
  3. Click on the label image.
  4. Choose how many copies of the label you want and press print.


Tips & Tricks

  • Streamline your label printing process even further – set up Print Station to open straight to the folder your labels designs are kept in.
  • Where you have inexperienced BarTender users, or your label designs look complicated, by-pass BarTender designer and open Print Station when you click on a label design.  In Microsoft Windows, associate your BarTender design files (.btw)  to open Print Station instead of Bartender Designer on certain users’ computers. 

Want Help with your Print Station?

If you would like help with BarTender’s Print Station, enjoy a complimentary 30 minute remote training session to get to know Print Station.  Learning Print Station will only take five minutes – but let us show you other features to make label printing easier and faster.

Contact us by email or phone (01359 271 111) and ask for our BarTender expert.


Useful Links

Updated: 14 Oct 2019

Using forms to protect your label designs

Using forms to protect your label designs

BarTender Forms

How BarTender Forms Work

BarTender forms make label printing easy and error proof.

BarTender forms pop up at print time and prompt you for the information you need to print with. For example, you could be asked to choose a product description or code, a batch code and a production date.

Enter the data on the form and watch as your labels print the data.

No need to edit the label each time you print. Using BarTender forms you can even limit fields to specific characters, number formats or lengths – ensuring consistent labels and eliminating mistakes on your labels.

How to Use BarTender Forms

Choose from 19 different ways to enter data from drop down lists and calendars to number sliders and database choosers.

Add the different form controls to your form, then match the form controls to the fields on the label by dragging them together.  Add forms to your labels in minutes.

Want Help with your Label Forms?

If you would like help with your label forms, enjoy a complimentary 30 minute remote training session to get your forms started.

Contact us by email or phone (01359 271 111) and ask for our BarTender expert.


Useful Links

Updated: 12 Oct 2019

Datalogic’s Gryphon Cordless barcode scanner

Datalogic’s Gryphon Cordless barcode scanner

Datalogic Gryphon 4500 family of scanner
Datalogic Gryphon 4500 Family Photograph.

We recently worked on a project and used Datalogic’s Gryphon 4500 series cordless 2D barcode scanner.  It’s a cordless scanner that can read normal 1D barcodes and 2D codes (like QR codes and datamatrix) as well.  It comes with a healthcare coating – which inhibits the growth of bacteria and cleaning the scanner with harsh chemicals doesn’t damage it.

Here are some of the things that impressed and didn’t impress us about the scanner.


What we like

  • Looks and feels like quality.
  • Scans lightning fast
  • Scans 1D & 2D barcodes
  • Displays a green good read light

What we didn’t like

  • Wasn’t easy to adjust the stand
  • Expensive

Look and feel

Datalogic Gryphon 4500

First impressions, the scanner feels good. It’s a comfortable weight – feels nice and solid without being too heavy. It’s designed in Italy and it looks good. With it being cordless, it feels tidy.

Very easy to use – with a clear aiming mark.  Useful if you’re choosing a barcode from a menu of other codes.

Datalogic GBT 4500

Bright white barcode illumination, so you can clearly see what’s being scanned.  Also better with coloured barcodes.

Gryphone Cordless scanner in stand

Automatic barcode detection and scanning. Just wave the code under the scanner and it reads it automatically.

Most of Datalogic’s range comes with a green dot good read indicator.  If you’re busy looking at the item you’re scanning then having a confirmation of sucessfully scanning your code is very helpful.  There’s also a big green indicator at the back of the scanner as well.

Datalogic Gryphon with Good read light
Gryphon - no connector chanring

The cordless Gryphon has eliminated charging contacts or sockets on the GBT4500,  the latest Datalogic cordless scanner.  No contacts to clean.  Whilst that removes a potential vulnerability on the scanner, they’ve included a hidden cable connector in the bottom of the scanner for a USB cable.



There wasn’t much to fault about the Gryphon GBT4500 scanner. The only slight inconvenience I suffered was adjusting the charging stand. It has a locking screw and you need a screwdriver to unlock it.

It isn’t the cheapest cordless scanner on the market. Priced at around £450-£500 for the scanner and charging cradle, it’s an expensive option.


The Datalogic GBT4500 is a quality piece of equipment with a two-year guarantee and so many features I can’t begin to describe them all in this review.  Easy to use, lightning fast and very versatile, you’d be pleased when you bought it.  It’s not the cheapest, but it is quality.

If you’d like to find out more about the Gryphon 4500 cordless barcode scanner click here and ask me any questions.

– Miles Green

Here’s Datalogic’s Gryphon 4500 video, demonstrating the scanner and it’s features.

The Best Thermal label printers for around £300

The Best Thermal label printers for around £300

With hundreds of label printers on the market – how do you know which to buy?  Expert Labels work with all the major brands and many of the specialist brands so we’re able to find the best thermal label printers to suit your needs and your budget.  Read this article where we summarise the best barcode printers for around £300.  See our recommendations at the bottom of the page.  Updated Oct 2019.

A note on prices – please contact us for up to date prices as prices change weekly.  Prices have been included for comparison purposes.  Prices exclude VAT.

Datamax-O'Neil E-Class MkIII Advanced - Also known as the Honeywell E-4205A
Datamax-O'Neil - now Honeywell - have decades of experience with Thermal printers - gaining a popular and dependable reputation.

* This printer comes with Serial/Parallel/USB and Ethernet LAN interfaces as standard.
* Comes with lots of options and accessories (at extra cost) - including a battery pack, external roll holder and a label peeler.
* Includes a 1 year warranty including printhead (unless it's printed more than 24KM of labels).
* Comes with Honeywell's own label design software (NETiraLD: Label Design Software). This is based on Seagull Scientific's BarTender - so it's well known and supported.
* Direct thermal only. Good for labels and tags that have a limited life.
* Won't print onto plastic media.
£265.25More info
honeywell-e-4204b basicDatamax-O’Neil E-Class Mk III Basic – Also known as the Honeywell E-4204BDatamax-O’Neil – now Honeywell – have decades of experience with Thermal printers – providing a popular and dependable reputation.
* Remarkable low cost.
* Comes with lots of options and accessories (at extra cost) – including a battery pack, external roll holder and a label peeler.
* Includes a 1 year warranty including printhead (unless it’s printed more than 24KM of labels).

Because of an extremely competitive price – this make the E-4204B one of the best thermal label printers you can buy.
Compared with the advanced model, the Basic doesn’t include Ethernet support.
* Direct thermal only. Good for labels and tags with limited life. Won’t print onto plastic media.
* Prints at 100mm per second.
£226.99More info
Zebra GK420dZebra GK420d* Comes with Zebra’s reputation for quality and ease of use.
* Market leading brand with widespread support and availability of printers and consumables.
* This model is the direct thermal model.
* Comes with Zebra Designer label design software included for free.
* No LCD panel.
* Average print speed – 127mm per second.
£265.00More info
Zebra GK420tZebra GK420t* Zebra quality and support.
* If popularity is a measure of the best thermal transfer printer – then this model is the best.
* Most widely used thermal transfer printer in the UK and Europe.
* Easy to use.
* Thermal ribbons, labels and tags widely available.
* This model is the thermal transfer model – producing long life labels and with the ability to print onto clear and waterproof labels.
* Tried and tested.
* Based on it’s popularity this is one of Zebra’s best thermal label printer.
* You pay a premium price for the Zebra range.
* The thermal ribbon length is just 74m.
* Label roll diameter is 125mm, there are printers that print longer between label and ink changes.
£305.00More info
Zebra GC420d* Best value 4″ wide Zebra printer available.
* Meets 90% of users’ needs.
* Easy to use.
* Media widely available.
* Uses the same software as the Zebra desktop printers.
* Just direct thermal – so thermal labels and tags need to be used.
* Only USB/serial/parallel interfaces.
* Prints at 100mm per second, slightly slower than other printers.
£242.99More info
Zebra GC420tZebra GC420t* Excellent value 4″ wide Zebra printer.
* Uses the same Zebra printer language as the other members of the Zebra desktop family.
* Widely available media.
* Uses Thermal Transfer technology – for long life labels and print to plastic labels and tags.
* 74m ribbon length.
* Slower than most printers at 100mm per second.
* Limited to USB/Serial and parallel interfaces.
£299More info

Zebra ZD410
* Extremely compact in size.
* Compatible with other Zebra printer software.
* Comes with Zebra designer label design software.
* Includes Bluetooth as standard (as well as USB).
* Even prints at 6″ per second compared to 5″ for most other printers)
* Limited to labels and tags 58mm wide.
* Direct thermal print only – suitable for short life labels and tags.
£239.99More info
Toshiba Tec BFV4D
Toshiba TEC B-FV4D
* TEC reputation for product quality.
* Prints at up to 150mm per second.
* Comes with Serial or parallel and USB and Ethernet as standard.
* Comes with Bartender Ultralight label design software.
* Direct thermal print only – short life labels and tags.
* Not as widely available as other printer brands.
£217.10More info
Toshiba TEC B-EV4T* Thermal Transfer printers – for long life labels and tags.
* Uses ribbons 300m long – means fewer ribbon changes.
* Comes with Ethernet connectivity as standard – in addition to USB, and Serial or parallel.
* Not as widely available as other brands of printer.
* Ribbons aren’t as easily available as other brands.
£237.60More info
* TSC make printers for other better known brands – so you’re getting the same quality for a better price.
* The TDP-247 is fast – printing at 177mm per second.
* Emulates Zebra printers – so can be used as a direct replacement.
* Has an Ethernet and Bluetooth option (at extra cost).
* Widely available media.
* This is the Direct Thermal model – so not suited to long life labels or tags.£279.99More info
Intermec PC23d
Honeywell PC23d
* Intermec, now part of the Honeywell family, have a long reputation for quality build and design.
* The PC23d is very fast – 200mm per second.
* It’s also easy to use (you can reload labels with one hand).
* Only 2″ wide printing.
* Direct thermal only – so only good for short life labels and tags.
* Difficult to source – not as well stocked as other brands of printer.
* Only has a USB interface.
£225.38More info
Intermec PC43t
Intermec PC43t
* Intermec, now a Honeywell company, have been building printers since the 1970s – so they know a thing or two.
* Like it’s little brother the PC43t is very fast – 200mm per second and
* Easy to use (single handed label loading).
* Takes a 300m roll of ink for longer unattended printing.
* The PC43t is difficult to source compared to other brands of printer.
* Only has a USB connection.
£299More info

Best Thermal Label Printers – Our Recommendations

For value for money and durability from a well known brand name – we’d recommend the Datamax O’Neill/Honeywell E-Class printers.  They are extremely good value for money, come in a wide range of configurations, use 300m ribbons and they’re easy to use.  Not as small as other desktop printers – so if space is an issue – look again.

No list would be complete without the market leader.  Zebra printers are widely available, well supported and cover almost every possible application.  Which model you choose depends on how many labels you print, what interfaces you need and size of printer.

We think the Zebra ZD410 is the best thermal label printer for narrow labels and tags.  It’s feature packed – it’s fast, has lots of connectivity options as standard and comes in at a competitive price.

Brewery Labels

Brewery Labels

If you’re in the fast-growing brewery and craft beer industry and are ready to start manufacturing, you’ll need labels that will make your drink stand out from the rest. Whether you’ve already got a design or you need a hand with one, Expert Labels are here to help.

Using the latest digital label printing technology, we can produce as few as 1000 labels, all with different designs printed to the highest quality standards for a truly professional finish – perfect for microbreweries who are producing labels for the first time.  Let us print your labels from your own design, helping your bottles of beer, wine or cider stand out from the rest.

We can provide you with:

  • Multiple materials and colours, such as waterproof labels, Crystal Clear, Matte Clear, Gold, Silver, Blue Foil or Glossy White
  • More than 6,000 cutter choices for unique shapes
  • Barcodes for your brews, along with barcode printing if you already have your own barcodes ready
  • Thermal label printers for in-house case and keg labelling

We are here to help you every step of the way with labels for your brews. For more information, give us a call on 01359 271 111, email us at, or fill in our contact form and we will get in touch.

Other pages you might find useful

Bottle & Drink Labels

Bottle & Drink Labels

Bottle and drink labels are slightly different to standard labels.  These types of label often carry the company brand and need to stand out on a crowded supermarket shelf.  To make your bottle labels stand out, you can use a range of features, known in the trade as ’embellishments’. 

Hot Foil or Hot Foil Stamping

Hot Foils are metallic foils that make your labels look metallic.  Silver and gold are the most frequent colours we’re asked for, but bronze and copper are available along with other metallic finishes.

Elegant Cosmetics Branding
Metallic effect on Cosmetics Branding

Touch is particularly powerful when it comes to building a brand and we can help you build that intimate relationship with your buyer by using these printing techniques and label finishes that make your products stand out are:

Embossed labels

This is where labels are printed using a special tool which raises specific areas of text or a logo on a label.

Embossed labels

High-build bottle labels

High Builds are similar to embossing where an area of the label has a thick varnish type material added to it which makes parts of the bottle label literally stand out.  This is usually done over a logo but can be done anywhere on the label.

High Build on a label
An area of High Build on a bottle label.

If you need any type of bottle or jar labels, we can help you. Your labels are made from a wide range of materials and colours i.e. waterproof materials, Crystal Clear, Matte Clear and Gloss White.

Give your labels the feel of quality with some of these label embellishments.  Give us a call or fill in the form below to find out more from our experts today.

Useful links:

Get ideas on labelling helps with cosmetics label branding – read here:

Updated: 28 Oct 2019

Don’t Let Your Labelling Hold You Up

Don’t Let Your Labelling Hold You Up

Don't Let Your Labelling Stop You.

Labels are critical to modern organisations and with most labels printed on site, there are dozens of things that can make your labelling system vulnerable.  

90% of these reasons can be eliminated or mitigated.

You can’t afford to stop shipping because of something as simple as labels.

Complete your assessment and see how you can protect yourself from  label stoppages.

Managed Labelling Service

Managed Labelling Service

Concentrate on Running Your Business and Let Us Concentrate on Printing Your Labels.

Zebra ZT230 Barcode Printer

Expert Labels provides clients with a complete on-site labelling service. 

We cover everything to ensure maximum uptime, so your labels are printed when you need them.

You pay us to get your labels printed and we manage everything else.

Let us do what we do best, so you can do what you do best.

Leave us to handle:

    • label and thermal ribbon stock management,
    • Thermal label printer procurement, installation and training,
    • Software configuration, integration and training,
    • Hardware maintenance and support
    • Support desk
    • Finance arrangements – turn capital expenses into operating expenses


Off the shelf labels

Labels & Inks

You get optimum stock levels and the right labels when you need them.

Industrial Label Printer


You get configured and supported label printing hardware as part of your managed labelling service.

Bartender label software

Labelling Systems

You get integrated labelling with your corporate IT systems. Your printer and label usage is monitored using software. You get trained staff and supported software.

Chris Day is an IT manager. He started at his company on the helpdesk, having got a degree in Business Studies. Gradually he worked his way up and now, in his early 40's, is the IT manager for his company.

His key objective is making sure the computer systems remains operational.

Chris' team is small - just three of them. They are stretched thin and he doesn't want them using their talents looking after label printing.

Chris doesn't want to have to deal with thermal label printers. He has a service company look after his multi-function laser printers and appreciates the advantages the simply ringing the help line and having the printer fixed gives him.

Keeping up to date with the latest thermal printer models and knowing how to support them is the last thing he wants to bother with. Keeping on top of label and ribbon stocks is easy enough, but a real nightmare when it goes wrong.

Chris wants someone who understands thermal printers to take them off his plate. He wants to concentrate on the next generation of software and hardware that his company needs to grow and prosper.
Chris Day
IT Manager


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