Tipping Point for Green

CMYUK is leading from the front with exceptional green product ranges for the digital large format printing industry.
CMYUK is leading from the front with exceptional green product ranges for the digital large format printing industry.

A decade ago, green products were rather like a past vegetarian menu option – an uninspiring add-on, making it appear as though some effort was being made albeit begrudgingly. In the wide-format digital printing industry, eco-products were only ever evaluated by price considerations and quality was expected to be inferior. 

Paying lip service to environmental matters and greenwashing were strategies that businesses adopted to make it look like they were doing the right thing. However, these behaviours have now largely changed, and care for the environment has become a genuine concern for industry. 

Societal shifts

Large shifts in societal perspectives are responsible for this turnabout. Environmental concern has been building momentum over several decades. However, in the last 18 months it has escalated to new heights in the mainstream. Greta Thunberg’s inspired children’s strikes, Extinction Rebellion marches, David Attenborough’s heart-breaking narratives on plastic have all played their part. We’re no longer looking at climate change as a future possibility, we’re living it now – wildfires, floods, year-on-year temperature rises, ice-shelf melts, unprecedented species extinctions – are flashed across our TV screens daily.

A backdrop that demands change

Inevitably the environmental challenges that we face are influencing our business actions. Across the globe industry is being forced to clean up its act for the good of the planet and for its own future financial health.

Businesses are increasingly coming under scrutiny from customers who are demanding their suppliers demonstrate green responsibility in line with their own brand values. We know that Print Service Providers (PSPs) that adopt greater sustainable approaches not only benefit the environment but also position themselves for greater growth opportunities and increased competitive advantage.

CMYUK leading the change for viable eco materials within décor and display

CMYUK is leading from the front with exceptional green product ranges for the digital large format printing industry. 

Our UFABRIK Wallcovering Canvas Eco range offers a highly inventive re-purposed solution to the scourge of single use plastic waste. Made using recycled PET yarn from plastic bottles, UFABRIK offers multiple applications including one-piece wall coverings, wallpapers or staple-wrap around frames to create stunning graphic walls for expos, events, retail and interiors. When using this material for display and décor graphics, any corporation or brand can now take comfort that their sustainability goals are being met with the same levels of print quality and durability. 

Introducing Kavalan, the non-PVC banner revolution

Kavalan has set a new standard as the replacement for traditional PVC banner material. PVC has long been a standard for banner production in our industry. It’s cheap, prints well and offers the physical strength needed for durable installation. Yet in 2018, 340 million square metres of traditional PVC banner was printed in Europe, and horrifically much of this ended up in landfill or was incinerated where its poisonous emissions damage eco systems and endanger human health.

Revealing this shocking statistic to customers has certainly made the industry sit up and take notice. There is no longer any excuse for knowingly printing on a polluting material. Kavalan will never be as cheap as PVC, but it’s  ‘cheap enough’ and representative of a new mind-set that demands accountability and traceability in the life of a product.

Education and disproving myths

Introducing Kavalan to the market has been an exercise in education and disproving myths. Not only has Kavalan surprised many with the way it resembles traditional PVC in its look and feel, it can also match it for strength.

The ability to hold a weld is key to banner performance and in independent tests carried out by global welding titans FIAB and Miller Weldmaster, Kavalan triumphed with 100% ratings. 

Bjorn Bora, CEO, FIAB said, “All industry players need to address environmental issues and to this end, we can truly recommend Kavalan as a unique solution.” 

Rob van Dijken, EU BV Business Manager at Miller Weldmaster said, “The first time I laid eyes and hands on the Kavalan products, I found it hard to believe they were not PVC. I imagine it will be a big game-changer in the industry.”  

GESS, Europe’s leading banner and signage installation company, put Kavalan through its own stringent tear tests, and it performed so well that the company has wholeheartedly endorsed it. 

Martin Hicks, Managing Director, GESS said, “All the material samples have withstood the test loads on the usual materials we work with, and with the added rope edge pocket finishing they will be fine for the large format sites we currently work on.” 

The market misconception that a non-PVC material doesn’t cut it when it comes to real commercial outdoor environments no longer stands. Sports brands for example, have stringent sustainability targets and now they can specify Kavalan for all their outdoor/stadium banner work knowing that they are using a green product that delivers on quality and performance.

Responsible end-of-life care

Most digital wide-format printers have never thought enough about what really happens to their material waste or a printed product at the end of its life. The assumption being that everything goes off for recycling.

However, the infrastructure around the recycling process is inconsistent and unreliable, with wide variances between different geographical locations. Often materials meant for recycling ultimately end up in landfill or become incinerated. If Kavalan finds its way into landfill, it has a water-based biodegradable coating that starts to break down immediately. 

Guaranteed sustainable waste-to-energy conversion processes

Kavalan has been designed for sustainable waste-to-energy conversion processes. Unlike traditional PVC, it can be incinerated safely without any harmful effects to health or the environment. Any emissions are hundreds of times lower than that of traditional PVC banner and well below the minimum safety levels set by EU guidelines.

However, the problem still remains – how to ensure that end-of-life Kavalan once it’s de-installed is route-guaranteed to a clean energy conversion plant.

CMYUK is currently working with international partners to develop a scheme whereby no matter the geography, Kavalan reaches specialist waste-to-energy facilities for transformation into clean energy.

So the question is no longer, ‘Why do you use eco materials?’ but rather, ‘How can you not?’

EFI Printers  |  Mimaki Printers  |  Kavalan  |   UFABRIK