• Andrew McKenna

It's paper or ...

Updated: Jun 6, 2019

At Treetop Foods, we've heard the suggestions to get our labels printed on plastic, and to get them printed in China.

Cheaper, better.

We're using beautiful, locally printed paper labels for Treetop's cheeses. Print Together produces them up at The Mill in Castlemaine and has a phenomenally quick turnaround.

I appreciate getting my labels locally for several reasons. The first of course, is that it is local. The money stays in my community. I'm supporting a local business.

A couple of people have recommended getting my printing done in China because it's cheap. Instinctively I dislike that. I have easy contact with my supplier and Print Together has a commitment to ethical, low-impact printing, which includes using 100% recycled paper and vegetable-based inks.

Buy from China and you don't know the environmental impact, which is likely to be immense, and my labels would have covered a huge number of kilometres before they hit my jars.

Secondly, I'm using paper.

I see plastic labels everywhere. They don't stain or tarnish. The colours look great. They stay clean and crisp for the life of the product.

And for the next 500-1000 years.

Many, many businesses have sold out their ideals for profit or convenience, and the world's oceans, waterways and wildlife are showing it. Plastic is coming back to bite humans everywhere, from micro plastics in our water supplies to reduced sperm counts, from messed up endocrine systems to cancer.

Forecasts are that there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050, but my suspicion is that we may already be there. Plastics break up into micro plastics, and if we were to count all of those tiny flecks of plastics from bottles, toys, nets, furniture and plastic labels, and then count the world's rapidly diminishing fish stocks, I'd say we're neck and neck.

Just like the 'printing in China' advice, at Treetop we're heard the suggestion to get our labels printed on plastic, as 'it would be just a small amount anyway'.

One business agreeing to that would admittedly create a small amount of waste plastic. A few seabirds here and there, the odd whale foolish enough to open its mouth in the ocean ...

One thousand businesses would not.

At Treetop we have chosen to be part of the solution.

Treetop cheese jars can collect a little condensation when they come out of the fridge. The paper can crinkle slightly. A spillage of oil down the side of the jar shows you've been eating it. But the colours remain vibrant and the information doesn't smudge.

My guess is that the cheese is so good it won't stick around in the fridge for too long anyway!

And if you want to reuse your empty jar, you don't have to use industrial-strength solvent to remove the label.

So when I'm convinced there's a biodegradable 'plastic' that I can print on, I'll look at it. For now, it's paper.

And the cheese still tastes great.

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