Are election signs recyclable?
Corflute, or corrugated plastic signboard as it is otherwise known, is a wonderfully durable material. Able to withstand the elements, completely waterproof and tough in very strong winds. It is a very widely used material in the signage industry from real estate signs to election signs.As we drive past all those election signs we have to wonder if politicians and political aspirants are being responsible with the signs they use to promote themselves.
The argument for corflute signs
Corflute signs are inescapably plastic. Polypropylene is formed from non-renewable oil. Despite its durability, it will degrade when exposed to UV creating microplastic waste.It is recyclable but there are limited recyclers and getting the post-use product to the recycler is complicated and costly. Normal waste streams like curbside rubbish removal cannot handle corflute signs. They are a contaminant in the plastic waste stream (whatever that is in Australia).Signs can only be recycled if they are free of foreign objects like eyelets or stakes. Many of these signs are made by applying a PVC sticker to the face of the corflute – this renders the plastic unrecyclable.So corflute can be recycled if ALL the following conditions are met:
- It is direct printed and not sticker applied
- Eyelets, stickers and stakes are removed
- It is bundled into industrial quantities (ie palletised)
- It is delivered to the recycling plant
Most council waste streams will not have a dedicated collection for corflute. The truth is election signs will end up in landfill. Our leaders either willfully or ignorantly ignore this inconvenient truth, Greens included.
How to fix this situation?
Alternatives to corflute
Outdoor paper board is viable alternative to corrugated plastic. Boards such as Oppboga or Katz board are specifically designed to last outdoors. These signs are not meant to last 500 years, just around 12 weeks or the amount of time it takes to run an election campaign. They are sourced from responsibly farmed forests and are recycled in the curbside waste streams. Unlike corflute, outdoor paperboard is completely renewable.Candidates tend to get on a roll with corflute because it is cheap to produce, so signs that could be paper posters become corrugated plastic.