Any ideas about recycling vinyl banners?

Filed in Blog, Recycle by on June 15, 2011 30 Comments
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How to recycle vinyl banners

How to recycle vinyl banners

While I admit recycling a vinyl banner isn’t something I need to do every day, these things catch us out from time to time, especially in the work place after conferences or promotions.

I had an email from Andrea who wrote “We’ve been doing a bit of a clear out at work and have some vinyl banners that we no longer need.

As you can imagine, I don’t want them just thrown out and have tried to find out how I can get rid of them in the most sustainable way.

Turning them myself into bags (which is the main suggestion I have found for them) is not really an option for me and I have tried to see if I can find anybody who takes these sorts of materials to reuse or recycle but with not much luck.

I was hoping that you might have some ideas or contacts who could help? (If I have no luck I will see if anybody on my freegle group wants them).

Well it’s over to you my friends. When it comes to artistry and creative ideas with sticky backed plastic, or even vinyl banners and old washing up liquid bottles, I am back of the queue.
However I know some of you will have some fabulous ideas and if you happen to know of a company who recycles vinyl, we’re all ears!

To be honest, here at Zero Waste Towers I’d probably keep some. We run a wood burner and tarpaulin is a great way to keep stacks of wood dry while it seasons, so I’d see it as a free resource. I’m also wondering if schools might like them – for messy play in reception classes.

On my travels around the internet I found a list of ‘certified recyclers’ of vinyl, but I would imagine these are for business collections and there are so many on there I wouldn’t know where to begin.

Finally, I found Griffin Designs who claim their vinyl banners can be redesigned and reused, in order to keep them out of landfill, so be sure to add that to your bookmarks for future reference.

Vinyl gets bad press and has been declared ” the worst plastic for the environment”, after a 2 year investigation by Greenpeace. The environmental group say that additives in PVC pose imminent risk to humans, especially children and they are concerned about the amount of dioxins released during the lifecycle of PVC. Unfortunately many items for babies and children are made from PVC  such as teethers, inflatable pools and playmats…

What suggestions can you give to Andrea for recycling these vinyl banners?


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (30)

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  1. Melissa says:

    I imagine they’re printed only on one side? I would expect to have several takers from posting on craigslist or free cycle as it seems you could flip them over and make another banner – great for a kids’ project, a welcome home, a big birthday celebration, etc.

  2. Mrs C says:

    Would a local scrap store be interested in them?

  3. Bags, messy mats, coasters, placemats, sandwich bags, wallets, oh the possibilities are endless!

    If you are still looking for someone to take these off your hands, I would be more than happy too: The issue being that I live on the soath coast so they would need to be shipped down to me.

    Eco-Centricity crafts.

  4. Brian says:

    I’m very much in accord with what’s been written. My guess is that these things have a horrendous “half-life”. I recommend keeping one or two. When the asphalt was ripped off our shed roof in a gale I was able to effect a temporary repair with one; a couple lengthwise together could make a garden water slide; could be used at picnics. If you have a regular supply, turn it into a business!

  5. sooz says:

    We use one for lining the boot of the car when transporting gardeny stuff…I think my mum also cleans it up and puts it over the car’s windscreen when it’s frosty to stop it getting frosty! Other than that all I can think of is making bags and so on from it, I imagine if you put them on freecycle someone would take them off you too.

  6. Love the Ideas you are coming up with: a great alternative to tarp for transportting garden materials and lots of other ingenious ideas!
    The benefit of vinyl is that its wipe clean; so when it comes to crafting, its a very useful material. It can be used to make re-useable items such as sandwich bags, placemats etc. I used fused plastic bags in large quantities as it has the same properties, though the method can often result in a more textured surface, which is harder to clean.
    Re to my previous comment: maybe able to cover shipping costs if this is a huge issue!

  7. Joddle says:

    If there’s a lot of them, they might be worth donating to your local scrapstore. As long as its safe and clean they will take anything. The great thing about scrapstores is that even though to you it may be a useless bit of junk, someone out there will seize upon it as a useful thing for a craft project.

    If I had these I would use them as table liners or mats for workshops using clay

  8. Holley says:

    I would love to take them off your hands! I will pay for postage. I teach art for a small school and I would love to have them to hang from our ceiling! Contact me!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hello, where is your school located? I have some banners that I would like to see uppurposed but need your local. I reside in Connecticut…
      Thanks, S. Colley

  9. I seem to remember Edinburgh Zoo using them in a similar way to use as a sort of tarpaulin.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    Well this has been a fantastic and a huge success. There have been several people both on here and our facebook page who WANT Andrea’s banners. There’s the power of community at its best 🙂

  11. Jo says:

    I am late to the party I know – Just wondering if the company who made the banners originally has been asked if they take old banners back? They may be able to re-use them by printing on the other side or may know of some process to remove the original ink and print on them again.

  12. Poppy says:

    I used to know a guy who printed vinyl banners and I’m pretty sure he said they can be wiped and reused.

  13. Iris B. says:

    Not sure if you have heard or ‘Eco-ist’ bags, but they make funky bags out of vinyl and ad banners >

    Some other ideas
    > make them into beach-windblockers
    > or gaffa tape or stitch them together to make a tipi for the kids for summer (or even as a Camp-site Brownie project??)
    > they also make great storage bags/boxes for eg. car /attic/garage or camping

    🙂 … the opportunities are endless 🙂

  14. Diana Matoso says:

    These are the kind of things better reused before thinking of recycling them! It’s really great, long lasting material that would become harmful in any waste field but actually very useful in anyone’s home! There would be so many things you could repair with it as it becomes impermeable through the printing process, imagine a table’s cloth, rain coats or riding trousers, bags, outdoor covering of things… Also they are great to paint / spray over so an artist could do some artwork for your workplace to be displayed in between conferences! 🙂

  15. B. Wild says:

    Being in the sign business I work with vinyl and vinyl banners ALL the time. One thing we can do in North Dakota is use them to haul fire wood and cover outdoor firewood. If your in that sort of climate that is.

  16. Teresa says:

    After PVC comes Polycarbonate and Polystyrene as toxic plastics followed by PET. The most benign in HDPE, then Polypropylene and then LDPE. So look for recycling numbers 2,4 and 5.

  17. Bryan says:

    I know this blog is over a year old but I thought this info is important.

    Many PVC vinyl banner materials use phthalates, lead, or cadmium in the creation of vinyl banners to make them flexible. Blockout vinyl banner materials have a center layer of black plastic or metal (such as lead) to stop light from leaking through from one side to another.

    Scrim vinyl also has a webbing encased in the vinyl for strength. That is why the banner material has a texture. Without the scrim, vinyl banners are easier to tear.

    All this combines to make vinyl banners difficult to recycle. Combine that with solvent based printing inks on digitally printed banners and you add another problem to the puzzle.

    UV sunlight and/or heat will eventually start breaking down the vinyl. When the vinyl starts getting brittle or chalky, it is starting to break down. Cheaply made vinyl banner material can do this within a couple of years. When the vinyl itself starts getting really dusty get rid of it. You do not want to be breathing that dust.

    Alternatives to vinyl are polypropylene, polyester, canvas and tyvek (yes, the house wrap stuff). All can be recycled more readily than vinyl.

    PET poly(ethylene terephthalate) is a polyester material that is also an alternative to vinyl and can be recycled. PET does not contain polyethylene.

    The drawback is alternative materials are much more expensive than vinyl. For a printer a roll of vinyl can be $80-$100, a roll of the others can be double or triple that.

  18. Risa says:

    I’m looking for something like this to replace a torn vinyl roof on a kid’s playset. I’d say put them on craigslist and you’d have takers!

  19. May says:

    I am looking for a used vinyln banner for my kids homework project. Wondering any org or company, website, would offer unwanted / used vinyl banner ( after event, exhibition or promotion..etc) Need some help.

    • Kay says:

      I have some unwanted banners I would love to send you. Where are you located and when would you need them by?

      • Jonie says:

        Hey Kay, just wondering if you have any more banners & if so, whereabouts you’re located? We’re searching for some to use…thanks

  20. Adelaide Kuchler says:

    Hi , my name is Adelaide.
    Is it possible to come to take those used banners for my charity, I am interested in having those banners and tapolines. I don’t mind to come and get everything you have .
    Adelaide kuchler

  21. John V says:

    Hi the main and very simple question for this old thread is: how do you paint over them/what sort of paint (ie that won’t crack, peel etc)? Anyone? Then re-use them.

  22. Clara Ho says:

    Hi all,

    My organisation needs the banners.

    Can let us have it?

    My email is [email protected]

    Thank you

  23. Philippa Bond says:

    It was interesting to see shopping bags – or just big bags made out of old bouncy castles. Surfers Against Sewage shop I think. Great reuse.

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