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As consumers we are encouraged to reuse, recycle and cut emissions to save our planet. However, in the workplace this mentality seems to be very much different.

It was with great interest I read a recent Guardian article about green apathy in the workplace, particularly as we had an interesting case in point the other week. We own a number of roller banners used for exhibitions and events that are in perfectly good condition, except that the printed banners were out of date. Obviously we were loathed to throw them away, just because the printed fabric was no longer usable. We had a seminar coming up and I decided to find out if we could reuse the collapsible metal stand and mechanism of the banners by getting the graphics replaced.

‘Stop wasting your time and throw them away’

During my research of roller banner suppliers, I was surprised to find that none of them were prepared to replace the printed fabric graphics on our existing banners. In fact, I was told by one company to stop wasting my time and just throw them away and buy new ones because it was quicker and cheaper. I was even informed that it was unlikely I would find a company that would just replace the graphics.

I was shocked, but not put off by this. Instead, I approached local printing companies, but found that to print just the PVC material was almost twice as expensive as purchasing brand-new roller banners. I was not prepared to accept this so I continued my search for an ethical, local company that would use materials that were either recycled or made from recycled materials.

Do the right thing by the environment

I eventually found a local printing company in Bristol that were able to offer replacement graphics for our existing roller banners at a reasonable price and offered a helpful and honest service. Unfortunately, the materials used were not made from recycled materials and cannot be recycled as once printed, they are classed as contaminated. They were prepared to pick up the banners from our office, replace the graphics and return them to us. The process could not have been simpler and delivery was in time for our seminar.

There was a definite census within the roller banner industry of a throwaway culture due to the labour costs of taking the old banners apart, checking the mechanism, printing and replacing the graphics - with a preference to throw away perfectly good roller banner stands and obtain cheap new ones imported from China to print locally. To be fair this is the best value solution they can provide, an essential consideration in the competitive print industry, but the difficulty in finding a company willing to ‘do the right thing’ by the environment and re-use existing equipment was a real eye opener!

At ecosurety, we are serious about continuously reducing our impact on the environment and aim to work with ethical, sustainable suppliers as much as possible. Our banners are not just for one event!

Have you come up against a similar problem in your workplace? Please share your own stories using our comments section below!

Karen Balmforth

Office administrator

Karen joined the team at the beginning of 2016 and supports both the compliance and marketing teams, helping to co-ordinate member interactions through the provision of administrative support.

Written by
Karen Balmforth
Sustainability, Ecosurety

Useful links

Ecosurety launches free journey-sharing website for Aztec West

South Gloucestershire Council LSTF funded pilot aims to cut cars at junction, emissions and help commuters save money.


Ecosurety journey-sharing website rolls out to over 30,000 staff and students at UWE

A sustainable transport scheme is launched this week at the University of the West of England (UWE) in a bid to cut the number of cars arriving at its campuses across Bristol.


Ecosurety working groups target transformation and efficiencies

Smarter sustainability and intelligent procurement on the agenda