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Finding a Solution to the PVC Problem

Written By Bobby Firestein

June 22, 2023

In February 2023, a train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. We watched in horror as officials released the train’s contents of vinyl chloride—a Class A carcinogen and the primary component of PVC, the main substrate used for many sign and graphics projects—into the air. While the release was necessary to prevent an explosion, the long-term environmental and health consequences remain to be seen.

This isn’t the first time vinyl chloride has been the source of an environmental catastrophe. Reports abound on the damage that vinyl chloride exposure causes. In fact, the 85-mile stretch along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans (which contains over 200 petrochemical plants and refineries, including those manufacturing vinyl chloride), has been nicknamed “Cancer Alley.” In this region, the cancer risk is nearly seven times the national average.

The impact of vinyl chloride and its role in PVC should be of concern to any business, nonprofit, or educational institution that uses large format graphics, as many of the materials are made from PVC. While East Palestine and Cancer Alley may seem very far away to some, the reality is the fallout impacts us all.

Consider just some of the other negative effects of this compound:   

  • Acute (short-term) exposure to high levels of vinyl chloride in the air has resulted in central nervous system damage.
  • Long-term exposure through inhalation and oral exposure can result in liver damage, as well as cancer. 
  • Vinyl chloride has been identified as a contaminant at more than one-third of hazardous waste (Superfund) sites, resulting in groundwater and air contamination of nearby communities.

So what other options do we have if we want a more eco-friendly material for our experiential graphics?

Last month, we shared some popular vinyl alternatives and introduced a new material that is going to change the game in environmentally friendly large format graphics.

KAVALAN: An Alternative to PVC

KAVALAN, a new line of banner materials that are PVC-free and 100% clean, is designed specifically for large format signage and experiential graphics.

KAVALAN Sunlight is a frontlit banner material suitable for indoor or outdoor use.

KAVALAN replicates the look and feel of PVC, has the strength of PVC, and welds like PVC—but without the negative health and environmental impacts. It is also designed for responsible end-of-life disposal. KAVALAN products can be recycled without the use of solvents and can be safely incinerated without releasing harmful chemicals. And if it still ends up in a landfill, the water-based coating is fully biodegradable.

The benefits of KAVALAN don’t stop there. Its production process also uses far less water and energy than traditional PVC banner material, which further lowers its carbon footprint. This means you can create your large format signage and banner projects without environmental guilt! 

KAVALAN Spiderweb is a mesh material perfect for indoor or outdoor use, while KAVALAN Gecko is an eco-friendly indoor wall covering option.

We are proud to be the first printer to offer this material on the East Coast and only the second in the United States. The full line of KAVALAN products includes substrates for a wide variety of applications, including:

  • Frontlit
  • Backlit
  • Blockout
  • Mesh
  • Wall Covering
  • Welding tape
  • Keder

Want to learn more? Contact us. We’re excited to help you reduce your environmental footprint and protect the health of those around you, while still creating high-quality signage and banner graphics.