If you are a retailer using graphics on your valuable interior wall space to increase your sales, reinforce your brand or introduce new products, you may be surprised to learn just how toxic typical custom wallcoverings printed on polyvinyl chloride (PVC) can be to your customers, your staff, and the environment.

"The production of PVC requires the manufacture of raw chemicals, including highly polluting chlorine, and cancer-causing vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) and ethylene dichloride (EDC),” states a report titled PVC Bad News Comes in 3s: The Poison Plastic, Health Hazards and the Looming Waste Crisis, published by The Center for Health, Environment and Justice; and The Environmental Health Strategy Center.

"PVC plastic also requires large amounts of toxic additives to make it stable and usable,” continues the report. “These additives are released during the use (and disposal) of PVC products, resulting in elevated human exposures to phthalates, lead, cadmium, tin and other toxic chemicals.” This is a problem when consumers are increasingly demanding eco-conscious business practices.

Adding to this ecological nightmare is the fact that, until now, many custom graphic wallcoverings have been printed with solvent based inks that emit VOCs, fumes, and noxious odors. Further, many are fixed in place using volatile, toxic adhesives. And when they are removed, they are not recyclable and wind up in the landfill.

“Retailers now have a better option,” says Pete Dilworth, who has over 20 years of graphics industry experience and owns a custom graphics manufacturing business in Baltimore, Md. “Custom printed, eco-friendly wallcoverings are great for business and good for the environment.” Any high-resolution image can be enlarged and custom printed onto a wallcovering with eco-friendly benefits. One such innovative wallcovering product called PUREGraphics (Post User Recyclable Environmental Graphics), for instance,is enabling those in retail, or any commercial enterprise, to create powerful sales, marketing or merchandising environment in any interior space.

“From current products and product milestones to logos and landscapes, it’s a 1-2, eco-friendly marketing punch,” adds Dilworth. For instance, a clothing retailer might feature wall-sized models wearing the hottest new fashions currently on the racks. A sports retailer could show great photographic moments in sports history or delineate the various sections of the store. An electronics retailer might highlight photos of product milestones in a timeline along a wall. A wine vendor could display a wall-sized vineyard landscape to create a natural, serene atmosphere as consumers select their choice of wine.

With printer output resolution up to 1200 DPI, there is no trade off of image quality for the eco-friendly benefits. There is also no limit to how big the images can go, from poster size to wall size and beyond, since print can be arranged in panels for any configuration. Designed for indoor use, with a class “A” fire rating, the wallcovering will last for three years when hung in a window and exposed to direct UV light, or up to 20 years away from UV light.

“Unlike conventional PVC-based vinyl wallcoverings, the eco-friendly wallcovering is designed to be totally green throughout its entire lifecycle, including its base material, printing, adhesive application, and eventual recycling,” explains Dilworth, who has invested in advanced printers using water-based latex inks that produce no detected hazardous air pollutants, and require no special ventilation or hazard warning labels.

Dilworth’s company has printed large format graphics for decades, and is one of the first printers to offer the new eco-friendly option, which is shipped directly to end users and applied by local contractors like wallpaper, but using more eco-friendly materials.

PUREGraphics start out green, as a proprietary polyester/natural fiber technology, containing 31 percent post consumer recycled material, the highest in the industry. The health conscious public, including customers and employees, will appreciate that it contains no ozone depleting chemicals, no PVCs, plasticizers, phthalates, chlorine, formaldehyde, or heavy metals such as lead, mercury, or cadmium.

It prints green with UV stable water based inks, with allergen-free properties for the health conscious public. As the inks contain 66 percent water by weight with non-allergenic synthetic latex polymers and pigments, there is no odor or harmful off-gassing. With extremely low VOCs, it meets California’s CA-1350 Indoor Air Quality specification, and as defined by the U.S. EPA Clean Air Act’s method 311, no hazardous air pollutants were detected.

It goes up green, using standard, low-emitting wallpaper primers and adhesives with mold and mildew inhibitors. And it ends up green, since it is cleanly and easily removable, and returnable to the manufacturer for recycling back into new product. This diverts waste from landfills.

Another plus of the eco-friendly wallcovering is that it is highly breathable, which helps to eliminate trapped moisture and the mold and mildew it can cause, according to Dilworth.

Architects, planners and designers will also appreciate that the environmentally friendly features of this wallcovering can contribute toLEED credits for their projects, as a green alternative for custom interior décor.

“Anyone in retail who’s responsible for sales, marketing, or merchandizing will find the PUREGraphics wallcovering an impactful way to promote and eco-brand their products,” concludes Dilworth. “From mom-and-pop shops, to national chains, and mall developers, the wallcovering is both attention grabbing, and in tune with the public’s health and eco-conscious sensibilities.”