At Focus Banners we are Eco worriers and we have decided to do something about the plastic waste we are helping to create!
“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.” — Gaylord Nelson (Founder of Earth Day)
What do we mean by signage waste?
Our business is based around supplying signage for events. Events are short term by nature and the signage products used are often environmentally unfriendly. An event may last anything from a few hours to a few months but rarely longer. The materials used to promote, signpost and theme the event can take a massive 500 years to decompose and can do untold damage on its journey. This is single use plastic on an industrial level.
Event waste is becoming a consideration for event organisers although often they focus on the rubbish created by their guests rather than the waste they themselves create.
Nostra Culpa (By our fault)
We have been as much ‘part of the problem’ as anyone else but we have resolved to do something about it and we hope to lead the industry in innovating for a sustainable future, particularly short term ‘soft’ signage. We are not 100% ready to let go of the old products. Economic realities dictate that we need to phase out less environmentally friendly options, or find solutions to them.
What is environmentally unfriendly about event signage?
Let’s look at the two main products used at events:
PVC Banner and Banner Mesh are terrible for the environment.
PVC has revolutionised the signage industry. Things unthinkable 20 years ago are now commonplace and it is mainly thanks to Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). This is not all bad. Some amazing things have been achieved with plastics. Car and bus wraps, window and floor stickers, billboards, and banners have all been made possible by that compound. The results from a print perspective are phenomenal but it can come at a price.
PVC banner and mesh is generally made by coating polyester scrim with a PVC covering. Both of these products are recyclable, but once combined in this form, they are unable to be separated and hence, unable to be recycled. The simple fact is that if you are using this product for your event, it is going to end up in landfill or burned. There is no other solution or commercial reuse.
We still use pvc mesh but we are actively trying to find a solution, not only for the signage industry, but for all the other businesses which rely on it.
Corflute is hard to recycle
Corflute is a very versatile and fairly tough product made from Polypropylene (PP). In small quantities its capacity for reuse is infinitely greater than its ability to be recycled. Some recyclers in Australia will take industrial quantities of corflute as long as it has no foreign materials like vinyl stickers or eyelets. It is not realistic for most events to have a few pallets of uncontaminated PP in the form of corflute so the vast majority of it goes into landfill.
What green signage options are available?
One of the sustainable signage options we use is polyester. Polyester banners can replace banner mesh. We have a wide range of products that perform the same, or in some cases better than the environmentally questionable vinyl alternative.
From a visual perspective polyester can do nearly everything that pvc can do. Polyester applications are much broader from flags and banners to lightbox displays and pop up gazebos. But the best thing about polyester is that it is 100% recyclable. In its recycled form it is high quality and able to be reused countless times. The energy savings in recycling against the producing the raw product are up to 88%. Little wonder companies like Coca Cola and H&M are making very large commitments to using RPET.
What many people don’t know about polyester is that it is the same chemical compound that makes the plastic bottles that we drink from (Polyethylene Terephthalate or PET). This is a very easy plastic to recycle.
We are still waiting for Australia’s first polyester recycling plant but it is very close. In the meantime Focus Banners will take back any polyester banners you buy from us to be recycled in the very near future.
Waterproof Cardboard can replace corflute
The wonderfully named Oppboga Outdoor Board is an ideal green replacement for PP corflute signage. It is 100% recyclable, can be put in council recycling bins, and is even sourced from FSC forests.
Whilst not as strong as corflute it can be used outside for up to 12 weeks and the print quality is just as good. Oppboga board can be cut into standard or custom shapes.
If it has to be corflute then Focus will take any corflute ordered from us. We will remove the eyelets and combine it with our other clients to take to recycling in bulk.
Come and join us in our circular exploits
At Focus Banners we are making a commitment to ourselves, to our clients and to the environment. We believe in recyclable signs although plastic use in signage is virtually unavoidable . We choose the lesser of evils wherever we can in recommending closed loop signage. With polyester we know that we will not be adding to the estimated 95% of all plastics that end up in landfill. We are stepping away from single use and stepping toward the circular economy. We encourage all our clients to rethink their signage with a view to reducing the amount of waste going into landfill. We love the idea of reusing event branding in creative ways and we recommend replacing single use alternatives with closed loop recyclables.
“The Earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.”— John Paul II
We would love to hear from you whether you have suggestions on how we can make signage more environmentally friendly. If you would like more information on what we do and our polyester stewardship program please contact us here.