Banners and Signage are the most important things in any exhibition as they provide information to the visitors. You only need to step into any major market in the country to find yourself staring at huge, relentless suggestions and titles and images of all the shops vying for your attention. One never has to go far to find these banners as they are the common sight in any market place in the world. Flex and star flex are used for printing banner which needs to be hanged at home, events, exhibitions etc. Whereas vinyl which comes in normal vinyl , eco vinyl or digital vinyl are used for pasting on to any plain surface which can be wall, sunboard, sunpack, wooden board etc. Flex boards, as these boards are called, are made of a material called poly vinyl chloride.
The use of this material for manufacturing flex boards has been the major cause of concern for the National Green Tribunal of India. The flex banners are made of poly-vinyl chloride. It causes a serious threat to the environment, as it is not bio-degradable. Flex cannot be re-used or recycled. Made of synthetic polymer, it has to be burnt. When burnt, they emit toxic fumes that have serious effects on health. It can cause cancer and infertility. The toxins released when the flex banners are burnt are carcinogenic (any substance, radionuclide, or radiation that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer). Burning of flexi releases harmful pollutants like sulphates and nitrates. These pollutants are heavier than air and form a thick blanket reducing the supply of oxygen in the vicinity.
Plastic or flex by itself is not harmful. The problem begins when they are not recycled. They can choke the earth or clog the drain and when burnt, can release toxic fumes.
Incineration (burning at very high temperature) is an option but it can be expensive though we can look at options to do it on a large scale. Flex banners deliver high-quality digital prints, but they are not biodegradable and when they burn, they emit toxic fumes that have serious effects on health. The toxins released when the flex banners are burnt are carcinogenic. The flex banners are made of Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) which is non-biodegradable. Since burning flex is a cheap option, many do so without considering the harmful results Environment is not a priority for either the people or the government and suggests that we can use flex made of starch (it helps in degradation), though it may not be a very durable option.
In addition to cancer, exposure to dioxin can also cause severe reproductive and developmental problems. Dioxin is well-known for its ability to damage the immune system and interfere with hormonal systems. Dioxin exposure has been linked to birth defects, inability to maintain pregnancy, decreased fertility, reduced sperm counts, endometriosis, diabetes, learning disabilities, immune system suppression, lung problems, skin disorders, lowered testosterone levels and much more.
Plastics used in flex are very long-lived products that could potentially have service over decades, and yet our main use of these lightweight, inexpensive materials are as single-use items that will go to the garbage dump within a year, where they’ll persist for centuries.
More recent uses synthetic materials those more and more man-made synthetic colours could in their life-time enter our atmosphere, soil or water environments (causes the water and soil pollution.
Plastics used in flex offer considerable benefits for the future, but it is evident that our current approaches to making, use and disposal are not sustainable and present concerns for environment and human health. They are useful and popular materials which can be produced with relatively little damage to the environment. The problem is the excessive use of plastics in flex in one-off applications together with careless disposal. Another avenue to develop for reduction of flex usage by media people, politicians, faculty, staff and students, and all other individuals, is to increase awareness of flex usage and the associated health and environmental effects. Usage of cloth banners could be encouraged as it would not only give a livelihood for painters and labourers, but also would not cause any environmental degradation. 100% Environment friendly Polyethylene Flex banner materials must be developed and encouraged to the environmental sustainability.