Turning up the green quotient with eco-friendly billboard materials

Author: Nikhil Narayan Sivadas

Turning up the green quotient with eco-friendly billboard materials

The Out-Of-Home Advertising sector is rapidly switching to eco-friendly advertising printing material such as the Walki®Print Media XXL family of products.

Be it shoes, a car, a home or even the latest fashions in clothing, Out-Of-Home Advertising helps bring it to your notice through colourful and engaging advertisements and displays. Millions of billboards are on display around the world at any given time. But what you may not notice is the material used in their making.

For decades, OOH advertising had to depend on using either pasted blueback paper panels or heavyweight PVC-based billboards & banners for their products. And while they do serve their purpose, the industry today is consciously switching over to more environmentally sound options.

The reasons for this are many. Take the case of blueback paper panels for instance. Most are chemically-treated and have poor visual quality. Then there is the high cost of labour involved in piecing together smaller panels into a bigger one. That’s not all. The advertising sector is also rapidly moving away from analog printing methods like offset and screen, in favour of digital methods using inkjet printing technology which allowing for larger print surfaces where a billboard skin can be assembled in one piece. This is expected to decrease the use of blueback paper panels significantly.

The other favoured material for OOH advertising has been Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) internally reinforced with a Pet-based scrim, which is mainly used in big displays and mounted with bungees onto giant metal frames. While this material addresses many of the drawbacks of blueback papers, it has its own unique problems especially when it comes to its (creation and) disposal.

It is widely known that PVC poses substantial environmental risks, with the manufacturing process releasing chlorine gas. Disposal is an even bigger problem since PVC is not bio-degradable, leaving incineration or dumping it in landfills as the only option. This in turn releases dangerous toxins into the environment.

Tapping into eco-friendly options

This is why the OOH sector has been seeking solutions that solve these problems. Solutions that Walki Group, a leading, international producer of technical laminates and protective packaging materials has introduced via the Walki®Print Media XXL family of products, which provides ‘green’ printing and imaging solutions.

“Our products demonstrate environmental awareness and responsibility, both of which are key drivers that enable our customers to choose products with the lowest carbon footprint possible. And producing them locally in the European market within the proximity of our customer base also adds important value," explains Luk Meys, Sales Manager – Technical Products at the Walki Group.

Using ultra-light, tear resistant and recyclable raw materials, the Walki Group has developed new ‘green’ print media by combining specific base materials and functional polymers. What’s more, they weigh less than 50% the weight of traditional PVC products, making transportation, storage and handling a much easier task.

Introducing the Walki®Print Media XXL range

There are three products available within the Walki®Print Media XXL range. The first is the Walki®Backlit, a reinforced coated paper that has been established in the graphics market for about a decade. This is useful for long-term usage in outdoors scroll boxes and is exclusively sold via selected media wholesalers.

The second is the Walki®Billboard, a PP or PET-based coated multi-purpose nonwoven product for mid-term outdoor advertising on panels, rollup banner stands, and for home decoration.

And last, but not the least is the Walki®Banner, a HDPE or PP-based coated woven material for short-term outdoor advertising on frames and fences such as at sports events, exhibitions etc.

The development of these cutting-edge and innovative products has also taken into account the unique needs of the OOH sector when it comes to printing applications. For example, Walki’s solutions can be used for both front-lit and back-lit applications, with a non-reflective, inkjet-receptive layer which is suitable for both UV-curable and Latex inks.

“The Walki®Print Media XXL range has been tested by established printer OEMs and is available in master roll sizes. Widths range upwards of +3200 mm, making it a unique offering in Europe," explains Meys.

Walki has one coextrusion production line available that is dedicated to the Walki®Print Media XXL product range. 2 other similar lines are available to function as back-up solutions and to secure lines of supply. All 3 production lines have optional printing and lacquering capabilities that can be provided as needed.

With these products, Walki has taken a lead in providing the OOH sector with cleaner and greener materials and develop eco-sensitive business practices. But that is just the beginning. The company’s dedicated R&D team in Finland is also concentrating on a whole range of options for the indoors printing media market, with innovative flame-retardant products being developed. The future is here as far as Walki is concerned.

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