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Introducing: Priory Elements EcoLabels™

By Lauren Churcher  |  19 May 2021  |   4 minute read.
Eco FriendlyLabelsPhenol FreeThermal Labels

As an ecommerce business, you’ll know there’s nothing more frustrating than undeliverable parcels, and more often than not, it’s due to unreadable addresses from water damage or ink smudges on your labels.

This is where thermal labels come in.

Unlike traditional address labels, thermal labels require no ink, as instead, thermal printers heat up and thermally transfer the information you need onto the label – effectively, addresses are burnt onto the labels. So there’s no risk of ink smudging as there’s no ink – seems simple enough, right?

With that in mind, it’s unsurprising that thermal labels have quickly become a staple for thousands of ecommerce businesses. Over 8.2 million parcels are sent every single day in the UK, and as thermal labels are trusted by couriers, the vast majority of those parcels will have a thermal label stuck to them.

Our mission as a business is to minimise the environmental impact of ecommerce, and ultimately make it a sustainable industry. So to help us with this, back in 2019, we created Priory Elements, our sustainable packaging brand, with ranges of ecommerce essentials which all minimise the use of new materials, prevent unbiodegradable waste by-products, and can be recycled fully. Our latest addition are EcoLabels™ – fully recyclable, sustainably sourced, and plastic free thermal labels.

You may be thinking, “how are the thermal labels already available on the market not eco friendly?”


For thermal printing to happen, a coating is added to the labels, and this is typically made from phenols and bisphenols.

Phenol is a synthetic chemical – you’ll likely have heard of it, seen it, or encountered it in your daily life in the form of BPA. If you’ve purchased reusable plastic bottles or containers, you may have seen labels or logos like this one, stating the product is BPA free. 

The reason the manufacturers are having to confirm that these products are BPA free is because research has found that BPA can actually be extremely dangerous. BPA can imitate the body’s hormones, and interfere with the way natural hormones are produced and how they work. BPA can actually behave in a similar way to oestrogen (the ‘female’ hormone) in the human body. But it doesn’t stop there.

Small dose BPA exposure has been linked to various heart conditions, such as angina, high blood pressure, hypertension, and in some extreme cases, it has resulted in heart attacks and coronary artery heart disease. And long term BPA exposure has been linked to developing serious health conditions, including types of cancers.

And BPA is just one type of phenol – other phenols are toxic to humans and, if ingested, can result in corrosion to internal organs.

Aside from all of the dangers to our health, phenols are also terrible for the environment. They can’t fully break down, and instead, they create microplastics. As the name suggests, microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic, and they cannot and will not ever break down. As there’s nowhere for microplastics to go, they end up in our environment and oceans, and consequently are swallowed by fish, which causes death, and results in microplastics entering our food chain. In fact, research has found that 73% of all deep sea fish have ingested plastic.

Online shopping is continuing to grow in popularity and therefore the demand for thermal labels is also only ever going to increase. It’s clear that we can’t continue with the phenol coated thermal labels which are widely supplied at the moment, and there’s a very real need for an alternative solution which poses no threat to us or our planet.

Introducing: EcoLabels™

The solution was found in an unlikely, but natural and regenerative, source: Vitamin C. Still the same reliable thermal labels which you know and love, but with no phenol coating. This simple change in the manufacturing process means EcoLabels™ do not damage the recyclability of the packaging materials they’re stuck to, they don’t break down into microplastics, they don’t damage the environment, or those who rely on it.

Research has found that an estimated 14 million tonnes of microplastics are already on the ocean floor. Enough is enough. Businesses, the onus is on you to take responsibility for your packaging choices – it’s not just about your goods arriving safely with your customers anymore, but also what lasting impact your decisions will have on our planet. Not everyone can do everything, but we can all do something.

For more information, help, and advice on how you can minimise your environmental impact and play your part in making ecommerce a sustainable industry, get in touch through our Contact page, or leave us a comment below

2 responses to “Introducing: Priory Elements EcoLabels™”

  1. Hi, these are advertised as plastic-free but I can’t see any info on what the backing material is made from. Can you please share whether they contain plastics (and it turn produce micro plastics) and whether/how they can be recycled? Thanks

    • Hi Mick,
      Thank you for your comment.
      The backing material of these Ecolabels is made from honey glassine which is a paper based material and completely plastic-free. It is 100% recyclable and can be recycled alongside card or paper.
      I hope this helps, please let us know if you have any further questions.

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