Dissolvable Labels are Now a Thing, and Both Mother Nature and Restaurateurs are Rejoicing

According to the Zebra Supplies team that came up with these cool labels, they won’t melt under heat lamps or high kitchen temperatures. But they will just melt away under running water.

A Zebra 8000D High-Temp Dissolvable Label is washed off a food bin by running water
by Christine Weber
September 08, 2021

It may seem counterintuitive to make a label dissolvable. In most cases, the goal is to get them to stick to an item or package for as long as possible. But if you’re in the business of serving food to others, or just make it a habit to reuse bins, a dissolvable label will become your best friend.

Whether you run a restaurant, catering business, events hall, convenience store (c-store) or grocery store, you have to rotate food daily. You know what a chore it can be to remove old labels – or hide them well enough with new ones to remain compliant with health department standards. It’s not fun. It’s also wasteful – of people’s time and your money.

So, Zebra worked with a customer in the quick service restaurant (QSR) space to come up with a dissolvable label that literally just washes away. No one has to exert any physical energy scrubbing, scratching or otherwise trying to remove the label. Just run it under some water and voila! The bin is as good as new.

What’s also good is the more eco-friendly nature of dissolvable labels. Just think about many traditional labels. If you can manage to get them off a food container or jar (and your fingers), you’re probably left with a ton of super sticky pieces. That debris can wreak havoc on plumbing and our planet. Though recyclable labels exist, they typically aren’t designed to withstand extreme heat or cold – a prerequisite for labels that will camp out on prep lines, buffet lines, or even freezer shelves for hours on end. So, the Zebra Supplies innovation and engineering team made sure the new Zebra 8000D Dissolvable High-Temp Label would just disperse into tiny fibers when exposed to running water but remain readable even after sitting under heat lamps up to 140°F.

It’s a bit ironic, if you think about it. Usually, Zebra supplies and solutions are designed to resist water. I mean, we literally hold things under water for minutes to ensure they’ll hold form and function after. But these direct thermal labels are intentionally designed to fall apart almost instantly when exposed to flowing water. How the world turns. (At least we’re doing our part to protect it as it turns, right?)

If you’re wondering how we got a label to stay put in high heat but melt away under water, I can’t reveal our secret sauce. What I can tell you is that the Zebra 8000D Dissolvable High-Temp label is a direct thermal label, so it doesn’t require a ribbon, and the recipe includes:

  • a specialty acrylic adhesive that loses its structure, removing cleanly from the surface
  • a facestock that disperses into tiny fibers when subjected to running water

You literally have a clean surface to start with every time you load a new batch of raw ingredients, cooked food or whatever else you might put in a crate or container – which some may see as a “nice to have”, but you probably know is a must. (The last thing you need is the health department to cite you for label residue on containers, considering how such residue can harbor bacteria.) You can put a fresh label on there with the prep date, use by date, and other information that helps reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses and consumer exposure to known allergens. Watch this:

Of course, food producers aren’t the only ones who could benefit from this cool new label. If you are a manufacturer or supplier that relies on reusable totes to ship parts or raw materials, you can just as easily jet wash a dissolvable label away if you frequently rotate what’s in the totes and don’t otherwise need an RFID tag.

If you’ve been looking for something like this, let us know. We’ll make sure it’s the right solution for your labeling application and, if it is, help you make the switch ASAP.

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Christine Weber
Since joining Zebra in 2006, Christine Weber has brought supplies to life for enterprises across North America and Latin America. (There is much more to thermal printing supplies than you think!) She has deep knowledge of the wide variety of labeling applications across a wide range of enterprises within Retail, Manufacturing, Healthcare and Transportation & Logistics. She is also well-versed in which supplies materials provide the most reliable performance to enable asset intelligence, including facestock, adhesives and ribbons.