Placard Recycling – Correx vs Cardboard

If you are looking for printed placards to showcase your brand or campaign, you may be considering which material to use for the boards.

Cardboard or Plastic?

Often people will immediately assume that a cardboard placard is the ideal option for keeping things green. At first glance, this would be correct as standard cardboard is sustainable and biodegradable. However, there are some key points to take into consideration. 

Cardboard Placards Explained

Paper and Cardboard are fantastic products. They can be easily recycled, are accepted by domestic recycling schemes, are regularly repulped into more paper and board and degrade naturally. 

Paper and Cardboard are also sustainable, with European producers managing their tree farms like a crop, similar to wheat and barley. As a result, farmers are continuously growing trees.

The disadvantages of using cardboard for outdoor signage and placards is that it doesn’t cope well with wind and rain. To mitigate against this, many manufacturers often add a coating to ensure it is water-resistant. 

100% Recyclable Weatherproof Cardboard

The lining added to the face of the cardboard to provide protection from the elements is made from Polyethelene (PE). A light plastic film, this material is also recyclable, which is why the final product (which also often includes recyled paper and cardboard) can be advertised as 100% recyclable.

So why don’t we use it instead of plastic?

As with most laminated products, whilst all the components of the 100% Recyclable Weatherproof Cardboard are recyclable, the plastic lining and the cardboard need to be separated before this can happen. 

As a result, it can’t go in domestic recycling bins and due to the energy required to complete the separation process, it often ends up in landfill.  

Paper cups use the same lining to stop them from leaking when a hot drink is added. The difficulty of recycling and common misconceptions of users has been well publicised in recent months.

“Cups are technically recyclable, something that some coffee companies actively promote on their packaging. However, due to the complicated way in which they are produced, the vast majority of coffee cups do not end up being recycled.” (Recycle More)

The net result is that although the perception of the cardboard material is that it is environmentally friendly and recyclable – the reality is that it will rarely be recycled and most of the time will end up in landfill.

Plastic Placard Explained

Correx board placards are made from polypropylene (PP) which is given the ‘Number 5’ mark for recycling. 

Correx board is longlasting, 100% weatherproof and 100% recyclable with a clear identity which makes it easy to process, increasing the likelihood that it will be recycled. 

Unfortunately it still can’t be added to most household recycling collections from the council, which primarily accept plastic numbered 1, 2 & 3. This does vary across the country. As a guide, if your recycling system accepts plastic straws, it will most likely accept correx boards.

Once it has been recycled, correx boards are then turned into battery cables, brooms, brushes, auto battery cases, ice scrapers, landscape borders, bicycle racks, rakes, bins, pallets and trays. (Source BPF)

Which Is The Right Choice?

At Far’n’Beyond we take our responsibility to the environment seriously, particularly when it comes to making statements about a product’s impact on the environment.

Part of our commitment is to ensure we are transparent about the materials that we use and the impact they can have on the environment.

Whilst a product may technically be 100% recyclable, this doesn’t mean it will be recycled by the end-user. Simple labelling or clear communication of what the product is made from, will help increase the likelihood of it being recycled.

We are huge advocates of paper and cardboard for short term promotional use, but as soon as lamination and coating is added, it loses many of its advantages, especially when trying to encourage your customers to recycle.

For placards, the choice here is largely going to depend on how you are using them. For outdoor use in the UK, it’s always going to be necessary to choose a weatherproof material. 

While plastic correx boards are not suitable for domestic recycling in the majority of counties, commercial waste companies will accept and recycle the material alongside many businesses which focus on reusing the correx material.

We did also contact several local councils to establish if they accept ‘Number 5’ recycled products. Although we were invited to bring our domestic waste to local sites, it was not made clear that it would be recycled. This was in contrast to the laminated board which our research showed would be highly unlikely to recycled at all.

So, if you want to recycle your correx board, find a local company or recycling centre that will accept plastics which have the Number 5 in the recycling triangle.

-- What we do at Far'n'Beyond --