There is no questioning the popularity of PVC as a material for Banner Printing. It has been and still is our most popular banner printing material, why? The main benefit is economic; PVC Banners are cheap and widely available. They are also tough, durable and easily manufactured for printing on. What you see is what you get!
Although the use of PVC Banners may be economically beneficial, PVC is one of the worst offenders for polluting our planet. PVC contaminates humans and the environment throughout its lifecycle during its production, use and disposal (PVC is currently extremely difficult to recycle).
As a print manufacturer we’re committed to seeing a future that is more responsible in terms of material usage. We share a vision for a future where PVC becomes a material that is only used for specialist banner printing applications as opposed to being used as the current standard.
In this series, we’ll focus on why you should choose PVC Free Banner Printing for your Advertising and/or promotions, and provide you with ‘Green’ alternatives to suit various requirements, uses and budgets.
Over the past few decades, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) plastic, commonly known as “vinyl,” has become one of the most widely-used types of plastics. We find it all around us: in packaging, home furnishings, children’s toys, automobile parts, building materials, hospital supplies and hundreds of other products. Its advantages are that it is highly versatile and relatively inexpensive. But the price we pay for a low-cost and seemingly harmless PVC Banner is far steeper than it may at first appear.
THE RECYCLING DATA
In 2018 alone, the EU printed 340million sq/m of PVC Banner Material, that’s enough to cover Wembley Stadium 4,200 times in a year. According to Statista, of the 29.1 million tonnes of plastic waste produced in the EU, ONLY 4.72 million tonnes is recycled in the EU. Why? PVC is categorised as a Type 3 plastic, which means it is only somewhat recyclable at specialist facilities. Without substantial government or private sector subsidies, the recycling process is currently not financially viable or accessible.
PROBLEMS IN DISPOSING OF PVC
So what happens to the rest? Well, the majority ends up in landfill, where it remains for 100’s of years, or is incinerated (process of burning) in a waste-to-energy scheme, both of which pose a whole new level of threat to our eco-system.
PVC in Landfill doesn’t readily degrade. When it does, it gives off a number of toxic substrates including dioxins and furans which then make up leachate, contaminating groundwater, rivers, the foodchain and water sources.
When PVC plastic waste is incinerated in a waste-to-energy plant, it emits some of the most potent synthetic chemicals ever tested, which can cause cancer and/or damage the immune and reproductive systems. This includes Hydrogen Chloride (HCT), an obnoxious, dangerous and colourless gas, which along with other toxic dioxins, damage the air, water and land ecosystems, posing a significant threat to human health. While all plastics pose serious threats to human health and the environment, few consumers realize that PVC is the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics.
With very limited options for the disposal of PVC and PVC Banners in a safe, environmentally friendly way, the avoidance of using PVC coatings in the first place is probably the better option. Since safer alternatives are available for virtually all uses of PVC, it is possible to protect human health and the environment by replacing and eventually phasing out this poison plastic.
Our range of PVC free banner printing materials include both recyclable and biodegradable options, each designed for responsible end of life disposal. All of our eco-friendly banner printing materials are REACH compliant, ensuring minimal chemical impact on the environment during manufacturing.
ECO IMPACT SCORE
Whilst switching to PVC Free materials is most definitely a step in the right direction, its important to take a holistic approach, rather than focusing on a single characteristic. Here at 5 Studio UK, our range of eco friendly banner printing materials have been evaluated for their environmental impact, from their composition and transportation, right through to their end-of-life disposal and recyclability. Each material is then given a score, allowing you, the consumer, to make an informed decision on your purchases.
The UK’s first biodegradable print media, made from 100% natural fibres. This eco-friendly banner has a use-life of up to 2 years and can be discarded and disposed of via the residual waste stream, a real gamechanger!
There is no compromise on printed display quality or durability; In the right compostable conditions e.g. Landfill, this material will decompose within 9-12 months.
ECO IMPACT SCORE
This PVC-Free Biodegradable Banner scores B, the highest of any current options available. In the mid-long terms, this banner printing material is considered a reliable alternative to PVC Banners.
A planet friendly banner material made entirely from TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin), a specialist material used in the building and automotive industry thanks to its exceptional durability and strength in outdoor environments. PVC-free and 100% Recyclable, TPO Banners are an excellent ‘Green’ alternative to a PVC Banner, truly holding its own in terms of performance, with a durability of up to five years.
Unlike its PVC counterparts, our planet-friendly banners can be safely disposed of using incineration or waste-to-energy schemes, as the emissions of Hydrogen Chloride (HCL), toxic dioxins and furans, are 100’s of times lower than PVC Banner waste, well below the minimum safety levels issued by EU Guidelines.
In fact, incinerating just one roll of our Planet Friendly TPO Banner can generate enough energy to power an iPhone for over 5 years. In addition to that, PVC Free Banners weigh significantly less, reducing carbon emissions associated with transport.
TPO Banners are available in 230gsm and 400gsm. The 230gsm has a lightweight construction for increased flexibility, whereas the 400gsm has a tightly woven construction that gives it a greater durability, with a tear and tensile strength comparable to higher weight PVC Banners.
ECO IMPACT SCORE
Our planet friendly TPO Banner printing material scores C, which is considered a happy medium. In the short-mid term products scoring C are considered to be sufficient alternatives until more environmentally friendly options become available. Products in this category are usually recyclable but may have travelled longer distances to reach the end user.
Kavalan’s range of PVC free banner printing materials are specifically designed for responsible end–of–life–disposal. As with our planet-friendly TPO Banners, Kavalan banner printing materials can be safely disposed of regardless of whether it is recycled, put into landfill or incinerated in a waste-to-energy schemes.
Kavalan has all of the advantages of PVC with none of its eco malignance. In fact, with its stringent eco accreditation including LCA (Lifecycle Assessment) and REACH compliance – this PVC and phthalate-free banner material blows traditional PVC banner out of the water.
ECO IMPACT SCORE
Kavalan eco-friendly banner printing materials score C, which is considered a happy medium. In the short-mid term products scoring C are considered to be sufficient alternatives until more environmentally friendly options become available. Products in this category are usually recyclable but may have travelled longer distances to reach the end user.
Plastic waste should clearly be a key concern for us all; Recycling any material, where possible, is fundamental to safeguarding our planet for future generations. As you’ve seen, the vast majority of plastics (including the PVC in printed banners) are currently disposed of in non-environmentally friendly ways; Until there is substantial government or private sector subsidies, PVC will continue to remain difficult to recycle and therefore continue to pollute oceans, overextended landfills and cause significant ecological damage. Avoiding PVC Coated materials and choosing 100% PVC Free Banners for your advertising and/or promotions may be the best strategy, with a number of viable and safer green alternatives now available.