Designing the best labels for your plastic containers

Your packaging is just as important as your marketing efforts when it comes to making the right impression on consumers. Once you’ve found the right recyclable plastic bottle or container, you’ll need to design labels that really show off the quality of your product. You’ll need to make some strategic decisions about material, shape, texture, and design that will communicate your brand messages in a convenient and attractive package.

Which labels to use for plastic packaging

Every label won’t work well with every plastic container. When you see a label that’s misaligned or wrinkled, you will probably get an unfavourable impression of the product contained within. By understanding some basics about how labelling works, you can ensure that your product is looking its best when it hits the shelves.

How labels are applied to plastic containers

The labelling process often involves the container being fed onto a machine and rotated as the label is applied. The mechanics of how the label is applied should be taken into consideration when determining the shape, size, and placement of your plastic container labels.


The shape and size of your label will be determined largely by the shape of your plastic container. Cleaning product labels, for example, are often rectangular and fairly large. A small pot of face cream, on the other hand, could take a thin wraparound. Labels work best on flat unobstructed surfaces. 


If the top or the bottom is wider than the rest of the container, this is known as a taper. The way the labels are rolled on means that even the slightest taper can prevent the label from lying entirely flat or straight. If your packaging has a taper, it’s best to avoid longer labels for this reason.


If the plastic bottle you’ve chosen has an area where the surface curves, such as at the base or the neck, ensure the edge of your label finishes at least 1/8th of an inch before the ridge so that it lies flat.

Embossing or debossing

Areas of a plastic container that are raised are called embossed areas. Those that are indented are known as debossed areas. As with ridges, these areas should have a label margin of at least 1/8th of an inch. 

Should containers be full or empty when labelling?

As plastic containers are so light, it’s better if they are full during the labelling process, so that the label doesn’t warp once they are filled. Glass containers can usually be labelled whilst empty.


If the surface of your plastic container is rough, the label will need more pressure time to bond properly.

Which adhesive is best for plastic container labels?

Different adhesives are better suited to different types of plastic. A regular adhesive will work well with containers made from PET or PVC plastics. However, these adhesives are more likely to bead on HDPE and PP plastics, so a stronger adhesive will be required.

You’ll have put a great deal of time and energy into researching, designing, and marketing your product. Don’t fall at the last hurdle! By taking the mechanics of label application into account, you’ll make your product pop and ensure that your overall packaging impresses.

Design and printing service

Measom Freer’s in-house team of skilled designers can help you to personalise and refine your product packaging. We offer full custom moulding and a design and printing service for recycled plastic packaging that really looks the part.

Browse our products now, or if you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can call us on 0116 228 1588 or fill in our enquiry form and we’ll be back in touch as soon as we can.



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