Swedish Supermarket chain ICA works on laser marking labels on products to replace stickers. Developed by Dutch organic vegetable and fruit supplier Eosta, the high-tech method offers a clean and healthy way of branding.
Eosta created a new trademark called Nature & More, to cut plastic packaging and provide healthy food from seed to market in a sustainable way. Nature & More collaborated with Swedish Supermarket chain ICA and came up with what they call "natural branding." The process is almost the same with laser marking, but it's suitable to organic products. According to Peter Hagg, the Business Unit Manager of ICA;
“By using natural branding on all the organic avocados we would sell in one year we will save 200km (135 miles) of plastic 30cm wide. It’s small but I think it adds up.”
[Image Source: Achterbio]
Natural Branding: the organic version of laser marking
In the beginning, Nature & More's Natural Branding will be tested on organic sweet potatoes and avocados in ICA. They suggest that just by marking the avocados alone, the process will eliminate at least 725,000 packaging units in the next year.
Surely the company is not the only one who uses the laser marking technique on food. Marks & Spencer is using a similar method on the oranges and coconuts in the UK. Likewise, Spanish company Laser Food uses the same way as well.
[Image Source: Laser Food]
Process of Natural Branding
The laser marking method basically peels a bit of pigment from the outer layer of the surface of the product being branded. The process is so superficial that it has no effect on taste or shelf life. Approved by EU Organic certifier SKAL, the contact-free method needs less than 1 percent of the energy needed for a sticker to be produced, as well as creating less than 1 percent of the carbon emission needed. According to Michaël Wilde, the Sustainability and Communications Manager of Nature & More;
“You have to invest in an extremely expensive machine, so it’s very much an investment for the future. This is something we believe more and more supermarkets will take on. It saves resources, CO2 and energy, so it does calculate.”
Without producing any waste materials, Natural Branding offers a truly clean way to label products. Instead of stickers that include glue, paper, ink, laser technology provides an eco-friendly method. Based in the Netherlands, the company constantly searchs for new ways to pack products by using less material. The Packaging Expert of Nature & More, Paul Hendrikis says that he is very satisfied with the new technology;
"The most sustainable way to pack is not to pack. I have been saying that for years, but it has been difficult to bring about in the supermarket. With Natural Branding it becomes a logical option. We are very glad that ICA, as a front-runner, is taking this sustainable road with us. We think green consumers will be delighted because research shows again and again that they disapprove of plastic packaging."
Well, after all, the technique offers a sustainable and clean way of labelling for the market and it sounds like it might spread around sometime soon as well.
Written by Tamar Melike Tegün