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What's the true cost of your graphic & signage installations for the environment?

Updated: Jan 17, 2022

The word 'sustainable' has been used a lot lately, and for a good reason. In the last couple of years, the print and signage industry has shifted its focus to sustainability and understanding the effects of our graphics installations on the environment.

At first glance, it may seem like most of the industry's emissions come from the materials we use. But in fact, nearly every stage of the installation process contributes to our carbon footprint.

The stats are sobering. But thankfully, many large format print companies are taking steps towards creating more sustainable installations, and the rest of the industry seems to be catching up at breakneck speed.

One example is Imageco. The "green to the core" Leeds print agency has set themselves apart through their steadfast commitment to sustainability. Their green journey began nearly three years ago when co-owner Nathan Bullough became more aware of the industry's impact on the environment. Their challenge was understanding how their business contributed to this impact. However, once they had a clear picture, they set about finding alternative options for their signage and graphics, switching to clean energy and utilising minimal-emissions logistics providers. Since this transformation, Imageco has been recognised for their eco-friendly initiatives, which has raised their profile, saved them money and contributed to their increasing success.

Just like Imageco, making sustainable changes to your business starts with knowing the impact your current practices have on the environment. Here are a few factors that influence it.


At first glance, many of your material options seem similar. They may have a similar texture or create the same visual effect. However, though your material choice isn't responsible for all of your carbon emissions, it indeed makes up the most significant chunk, as a Carbon Quota study reveals (see the graphics below). For instance, PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) is the most popular material of choice for wall graphics. But its widespread use adds a hefty weight to the industry's carbon footprint. Just one graphic of PVC will create 11.8g CO2e during its lifecycle. If you're making a large installation, these figures quickly add up. However, there are more environmentally friendly options of similar quality that are widely available. One great alternative, rPET, in comparison, only produces 4g CO2e in its lifetime. So by switching from PVC to rPET, you can expect an almost threefold reduction in your carbon footprint.

The study by Carbon Quota for ImageCo - carbon footprint by materials


As Dominic Harris, co-founder of Carbon Quota, explains, product manufacturing forms "about a quarter" of your business's entire carbon footprint.

The energy used during graphics manufacturing is a big part of it. From air-conditioning to running the equipment and providing appropriate lighting,