Trying to do the right thing.
I am finding various articles in the press very confusing about what we should be trying to do moving forward to help reduce our carbon footprint, and behave in a more responsible way for the wellbeing of future generations.
We all want to do the right thing but in doing this we want to remain competitive while producing graphics that look great and are fit for purpose. So it is all seems to be a play off, but what I am finding is that we can be a lot better than we are currently.
Polyvinyl chloride ( PVC ) is under pressure at the moment as it is the most toxic of all plastics containing over 50% chlorine. This emits dioxins of which there are no safe levels of exposure to humans. It also contains phthalates to soften the material and heavy metals which are also noted as materials of high concern. All these elements readily migrate into the environment during production, use and disposal. The construction of PVC banners tend also to be mixed with a Polyester base with PVC coatings, separating this mixture after use is difficult and uneconomic so this can only be recycled with mixed plastics, incinerated or sent to landfill. however dioxins are released and poisons remain. So when looking at companies chipping PVC and using on farms will only lead to the nasties working its way back into our food chain/water system.
Polyester on the other hand is also a plastic but contains no nasties in its construction, CO2 is the only bi product when it is disposed of. A knitted display polyester fabric is typically around 200 gsm where as a 3mm foam panel is 1300gsm. Comparing the two the reduction in weight is 83%, plus the 17% that remains is a single material containing no nasties. Polyester yarns can also be made from recycling post-consumer clear plastic waste, which we offer in the form of flag / display and backlit. There is a slight cost uplift of materials made of such yarns. Efforts are currently being made being made to recycle polyester yarns into themselves at an economic level and hopefully we will soon be able to offer this service.
We personally send our waste to be incinerated locally to produce energy from waste, polyester has the same calorific value as soft coal at 18 kj/kg, as a comparison the calorific value of crude oil is 42kj/kg. After incineration less than 3% goes to landfill as ash or deposits from the chimneys.
The other thing to be aware of are the coatings that are added for FR, the cheaper alternatives are poisons and identified as hazardous, G&O do not use these and use friendly alternatives which are certified by the Oeko-tex 100 certification.
As a company we try to source as locally as possible and buy efficiently to reduce transport effects and obviously costs. We also look at the contents and construction of our materials with the environment very much in mind. Especially when you consider a container ship burns 63,000 gallons of oil a day!! And that’s the nasty bunker fuel.