Make Sure Your Supplier is Complying with Regulations

steveWhen you hire a packaging vendor, you are hoping that your vendor is 100% up-to-speed on all health, environmental and labor issues. Nothing could be more disastrous to your brand or reputation than if you were caught in some type of a “sting” operation put forth by an over-zealous lawyer/regulatory agent who wants to make a name for him/herself. Or perhaps your Purchasing Agent has assumed your vendor was properly following regulations – and they weren’t. It has happened before and it will happen again.

In the world of decorated bottles, there are many different vendors from many different countries. Oversees vendors might not be as diligent, concerned or up-to-speed as to what is and what isn’t acceptable in North America. Think of toxic toothpaste or contaminated baby formula as relatively recent examples. For instance, in North America we have strict regulations such as Proposition 65 which must be adhered to by all companies that sell into the California marketplace. In California, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) administers the Proposition 65 program. OEHHA, which is part of the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA), also evaluates all currently available scientific information on substances considered for placement on the Proposition 65 list. As per OEHHA’s website “Proposition 65 requires businesses to notify Californians about significant amounts of chemicals in the products they purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment. By providing this information, Proposition 65 enables Californians to make informed decisions about protecting themselves from exposure to these chemicals. Proposition 65 also prohibits California businesses from knowingly discharging significant amounts of listed chemicals into sources of drinking water.”

If your company is selling anything into California, it is imperative that you are aware of these regulations or your vendors are. As a customer, it is your right to ask your vendor if the products that they sell to you are “Prop 65 compliant.” If they look at you like you are from Mars then I would strongly suggest that you find another vendor! It is simply not worth the risk to your brand or business if your vendor doesn’t have your back when it comes to government regulations.

On a national scale, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is granted with consumer safety over-sight in the United States. As per their website “CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products.” In Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) oversees consumer health and safety regulations.

At Universal Packaging, we make sure we stay on top of all the regulations that could impact our customer’s products. We err on the side of compliance by periodically testing our paints, sprays and glass and by being active members of the SGCD (Society of Glass and Ceramic Decorators). Specifically, we don’t use any lead in any of our inks or sprays. Additionally, our BPA-free paints and sprays are used on many brands, thus removing this as a potential flash-point issue in the future. In the end, our customers know that we are fully versed – and compliant with – all regulations across North America. This allows them to sleep well at night.

The Advantages of Applied Ceramic Labeling

steveIn the world of wine and spirit label design, there are many different options available to the brand owner. Traditionalists will likely stick with glue applied paper labels, while those who are more adventurist might venture into pressure sensitive film labels (PSFL), heat transfer labels or shrink sleeves. However, for the truly visionary package designer or brand-owner, there is another option – applied ceramic labelling (ACL).

According to the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI), applied ceramic labelling (also known as silk screening) is “a process where ceramic inks are printed directly onto bottles and then heated to adhere the ink directly to the bottle, creating permanent decoration. ACL graphics can be up to 6 spot colors with potential for 360 degree graphics on the body and/or neck areas.”

So why would a winery, brewery or distillery consider silk screening their bottles vs these other labeling options? Below is a list of 8 advantages associated with silk screening your bottle:


1) The bottle becomes your canvas. Get creative and think outside the box! You can print virtually anywhere on a round bottle. 360 degree wraps, necks and even the shoulders.

2) The ability to stand apart from the rest of the crowd. The vast majority of beverage alcohol labels are confined to a traditionally shaped label on the front and back. With screen printed labels, your label is guaranteed to look different compared to your competitors. Be unique!

3) Enhance your brand imagery with a premium, high-fired screen printed label. Use precious metal gold, platinum or cooper to elevate your brand in your consumer’s eyes. With an ultra-premium design and application, you should be able to charge a higher price point for your brand and generate more profit for you!

4) The best durability in the marketplace. A ceramic label won’t scratch, tear, rip or wrinkle during shipping and handling. As well, you can confidently put your high-fired silk screened bottle in a freezer or a cooler full of ice water and the label will not come off.

5) Production people love screen printed bottles! The bottles arrive and then they get filled – simple as that. No more time (or money) wasted operating/tinkering with a finicky labeling machine. No more hand applied labels! Printing directly on a bottle eliminates labeling issues that are common with tapered or non-round bottles. Production line efficiencies soar with screen printed bottles!

6) Very low set up costs compared to traditional printers. With screen printing, you don’t have to pay for expensive plates and dyes. This makes screen printed bottles particularly cost effective in smaller quantities.

7) The flexibility associated with screen printed labels is outstanding. If you want to tweak your design for your next label run, no problem. If you need to adjust your numbers at the last minute, this usually can be accommodated.

8) Many bottle decorators have no minimum order quantities.

Brand owners and package design firms are faced with many different labeling options. I believe Applied Ceramic Labelling (ACL) is a great option for those that want to really differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Give it a try, even on a small run. I think you and your customers will be very happy with the results.

Creating a bottle design? Give Nicole a call at (541) 980-2124 or visit our website @ and let us help you out.


Hire a Pro!

steveUniversal Packaging is a leading bottle decorator in North America to the wine, spirits, beer and food categories. We have been screen printing, spraying and decaling bottles for 31 years. We see literally hundreds of new bottle designs
every year. We see the success of our clients, and sometime lack of success, and we have learned to connect the dots between bottle design and success.

Most of the bottle designs we see are nothing short of inspirational. Some, however, fall short of excellence and we have learned that those are typically the bottles designed by someone other than a professional. The high-quality and effective designs almost always come from a professional packaging design agency. Here at Universal, we have three in-house designers who are experts at
working with our bottle decoration techniques. Our designers collaborate with your agency professionals to maximize the possibilities and broaden the range of tools
your designer has to work with. All of this is in the name of making your bottle, and your brand, stand out behind the bar and on the shelf.

It is true, professional design firms cost money. For many small or mid-sized wineries, breweries or distilleries, I can understand the allure of having a family member (or friend) design your new label or package. Chances are it won’t cost you very much money and they have a personal interest in your brand. While having them design your package is a very noble gesture, it probably isn’t a wise business decision. This is your brand, your business and probably your livelihood that we are talking about. If your bottle isn’t selected off the shelf, it doesn’t matter how the product inside tastes. My Dad once said to me “you get what you pay for.” This is true when it comes to purchasing a bottle of wine, buying a car or designing your brand and bottle.

Thus, I would strongly encourage all breweries, distilleries and wineries to hire a package design professional. I am confident that you will end up with a far better looking package and a more successful brand. You may have the world’s tastiest beer, vodka or wine. Don’t you think it deserves to be showcased to the world in its best possible light?

What are some of your experiences working with design firms?

Creating a bottle design? Give Nicole a call at (541) 980-2124 or visit our website @ and let us help you out.