A collaboration between Japan-based Toppan Printing and Dow has yielded a new type of recyclable fabric for banners and signage, launched by Toppan under the brand name ‘ecocracy’.
According to Toppan, banners and signage made from ecocracy can be recovered after events for re-pelletising into a recycled resin. This resin can then be blended with wood waste to produce wood-plastic composite materials to produce benches, floors, plant pots and similar products, enabling Toppan to push beyond the traditional use and end-of-life of its products, said Seiji Furuya, technical strategy and development manager in Toppan’s Information & Communication Division.
The new fabric is the outcome of an Olympics project combining Toppan’s processing technologies with Dow’s plastics expertise. In search of a more sustainable solution for the banners, flags and signage used at this type of event, the Japanese company elected to work with Dow on the creation of a monomaterial product, in which a single resin type is used in the fabric and all other plastic parts, such as the membrane, mesh, eyelet, and yarn.
“Working hand-in-hand with Toppan, we developed this polyolefin-based fabric to address the growing need to give plastic a second life,” said Nicoletta Piccolrovazzi, global sustainability & technology director, Dow Olympic & Sports Solutions.
Unlike conventional tarpaulin banners, which are typically made with a few layers of different plastics and other materials, those made from the new fabric are far easier to recycle. In addition, Toppan says that ecocracy also helps to reduce plastic consumption because the volume of plastic resin used is less than half that of traditional tarpaulin-based products.
Toppan will not only produce, print, and process sheets used for ecocracy, the company also plans to recover the banners, re-pelletise the polyolefin-based fabric, and manufacture and sell products made from the recycled resin. The idea is to give the materials a second life, long after the closing ceremony.
“Recycling banners will showcase how collaborations such as ours can help society shift away from single-use plastics and reduce the amount of materials destined for incineration or landfills, to create something entirely new,” said Seiji Furuya.