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Labels – those unsung heroes of the product world. They tell us what’s inside, how to use it, and sometimes even make a bold fashion statement for your brand. But with so many label options, choosing the right one can feel overwhelming.

Think of your label as a silent salesperson, tirelessly promoting your product. It must be clear, informative, and – ideally – grab the customer’s attention. But it must also be tough enough to handle whatever life throws at it, whether it’s a bumpy ride in a delivery truck or a splash in the sink. Understanding labels and choosing the right label material impacts both your product’s presentation and its long-term integrity.

This article will comprehensively compare synthetic and paper labels, focusing on their applications, advantages, and disadvantages.

What are Synthetic Labels?

Juice Label

Synthetic labels, also known as film labels, are made from materials such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and polyester (PET). These materials provide a robust and versatile labelling solution, especially for products that require enhanced durability and resistance to environmental factors.

Synthetic labels are often used in industries where they can experience harsh conditions. This includes chemicals, paints, cleaning products, automotive parts, and outdoor equipment. They are also prevalent in the logistics and transport sectors due to their resilience and longevity. Some of the advantages of this type of label include the following:

  • Durability: Synthetic labels are highly resistant to water, chemicals, and abrasion, making them ideal for products exposed to extreme conditions.
  • Longevity: They do not degrade easily over time, ensuring the product information remains intact and legible throughout its lifecycle.
  • Versatility: These can adhere to various surfaces, including plastics, metals, and glass.
  • Superior Print Quality: They offer excellent print quality, providing high-resolution graphics and text that enhance brand visibility and consumer appeal.
  • Customisability: These can be customised with various finishes, such as gloss, matte, and UV coatings, to suit specific branding needs.

While there is much to love about synthetic labels, there are a couple of drawbacks, including:

  • Cost: Synthetic labels are generally more expensive than paper options due to the materials and production processes involved.
  • Environmental Impact: They’re less environmentally friendly than paper, which can be a consideration for businesses aiming to reduce their ecological footprint.

Understanding Paper Labels

Dairy Milk Cheese labels

Paper labels use various types of paper, such as coated, uncoated, and thermal paper. They are often used for applications where the environment is controlled and does not need to withstand harsh conditions.

These are used for food and beverage, retail, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. They are suitable for product packaging, price and shipping tags and barcodes. There are many advantages to using these, including the following:

  • Cost-Effective: They are generally cheaper to produce, making them a cost-effective solution for many businesses.
  • Eco-Friendly: Paper is a renewable and biodegradable resource, offering a more environmentally friendly option than synthetic materials.
  • Print Versatility: These are printed using various methods, including digital, flexographic, and offset printing, allowing for flexibility in design and production.
  • Ease of Application: They are typically easier to apply and can be used with various adhesives.

There are a few drawbacks, which include:

  • Durability: Paper labels are less durable and can be easily damaged by water, chemicals, and abrasion.
  • Limited Lifespan: They are prone to wear and tear over time, which can lead to the degradation of printed information.
  • Surface Limitation: They may not adhere well to all surfaces, particularly rough or textured surfaces.

What’s Different Between Synthetic Labels vs Paper Labels

  • Durability & Longevity: Synthetic labels reign supreme in this category. If your product faces harsh conditions, frequent handling, or needs long-lasting information, synthetics are the way to go.
  • Environmental Impact: Paper takes the lead here, especially if sustainability is a top priority for your brand. Just ensure the product and storage conditions are suitable for paper’s limitations.
  • Cost Considerations: Paper offers a more budget-friendly option upfront. However, consider the long-term costs. If your product requires frequent label replacements due to a lack of durability, a synthetic label might be a more cost-effective choice in the long run.
  • Print Quality & Customisation: Both materials can offer excellent print quality and customisation options. However, synthetic labels have a wider range of finishes and textures.
  • Industry Compatibility:
    • Chemicals & Cleaning Products: Synthetic labels are the clear winner here.
    • Food & Beverage: Both options can work, depending on the specific product and its needs.
    • Durable Goods: Synthetic labels are ideal for their superior durability.
    • Dry Goods & Short-Term Use: Paper labels are a good choice for their affordability and eco-friendliness.


There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to label materials. It’s all about what your product needs to thrive! Think about the conditions your product will face: is it battling the elements outdoors, or nestled safely on a grocery shelf? Is it best friends with water, or would a good soak send the label running?

Carton Sampan

Ultimately, the decision should be based on a thorough assessment of your business’s needs, considering factors such as budget, environmental goals, and the nature of the products. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each type of label, you can make informed decisions that align with their operational and strategic objectives.

High-Quality Label Solutions from QLM Group

Jason Kong labels

At QLM Group, we offer a wide range of high-quality label solutions tailored to meet the diverse needs of your industry. Our expertise in synthetic and paper labels ensures you receive the best labelling solution for your specific requirements. Request a quote for your product now.

6.1 Common Synthetic Label Applications

  • Oil & Sauce: Withstand moisture, grease, and condensation for long-lasting product information.
  • Chemical, Durable & Industrial: Resist harsh chemicals, abrasion, and extreme temperatures for clear identification.
  • Cosmetic: Offer high-quality printing and durability for a premium brand image.
  • Pet Healthcare: Ensure clear communication and safety information on pet medications and supplies.
  • Beverages: Withstand condensation, moisture, and cold temperatures for clear branding and essential information.
  • Food & Dairy: Withstand various conditions like moisture, cold temperatures, and even freezing for clear branding and essential information on all your food and dairy products.

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