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Environmental Sustainability - What is the best card material?


Date: Sun 10th January 2021

ID card made from Bamboo

What constitutes a truly environmentally sustainable material to print your membership card or ID card?


Carbon Footprint :

A truly environmentally sustainable material, is one that has the lowest carbon impact whilst still creating brand value and meeting your marketing needs. Nothing that we do as humans has zero impact on our environment, but as a race, both as a human race and a race against time, we are striving to decrease our impact and reduce our carbon footprint in our daily activities.


So when it comes to selecting the most appropriate substrate, for  the look and feel of your membership card or event card you should consider:


  • The environmental impact of that card
  • Its required purpose and the lifetime of the card
  • What brand impact that your choice will have
  • how you convey your choice to your audience

So, what are your choices – let’s take a look:


Bamboo Cards


Bamboo as a plant helps clean the air we breathe. Bamboo grass absorbs five time more CO2 from the air than the equivalent amount of hardwood trees. Not only that, two thirds of the carbon is stored in the soil and root system which, unlike trees, isn’t dug up when the bamboo is harvested. The carbon therefore stays in the ground. Bamboo releases 35% more oxygen than its hardwood tree equivalent.


Bamboo stage pass


Going green is everyone’s goal, choosing bamboo as your go-to material for card printing can be a great way to get closer to accomplishing it. When you’re considering your next marketing event or membership card print run choosing made a material that is practical and doesn’t damage the environment, bamboo printed cards are a great option.


There are many solutions subject to frequency, use and practicality. The National Trust recently switched their annual membership cards from plastic to paper board. Read the article here:


Bamboo Science

Of course suppliers of bamboo products will claim that their product is more environmentally friendly than others. We know that paper is recyclable, we know that currently many plastics – are not degradable and for many uses bamboo provides a strong resilient and sustainable alternative for event passes or access cards. The following article provides a well balanced review of bamboo


Is bamboo better – yes, we believe that it is. Ultimately its environmental impact for many uses far outweighs single use plastic. For short and mid-term card uses. However, there are other considerations when it comes to longevity. When does recycling and the energy it requires, compared with the carbon footprint of frequently used bamboo, become less sustainable than longer use plastics?



Single use plastic that leads to increased landfill and high environmental impact is as we all know to be avoided. That’s why at PDC, we provide a full range of environmentally sound card printing alternatives. However, for many practical uses the use of a plastic card still far outweighs the what are perceived as ‘greener’ more sustainable materials. If you can use a plastic card every day for 5 years, then the card would still be usable. Board cards made from wood pulp would not be viable under these conditions. Bamboo would more viable, but unless it was laminated (which removes all of its ability to be recycled in an environmentally sound way i.e. without additional harmful chemicals being introduced) then a plastic card for longer term use may well be the better choice.


Much of this requires a degree of education and awareness. At PDC are very happy to talk options through with you. “Horses for courses” – as they say – which solution is best for your brand, your client and your budget.


Event VIP pass


Board Cards

These are made of a highly absorbent, tough and resilient board. Similar to a beer mat material.

The benefits of cards produced using this substrate are:

  • made from recycled material
  • can be recycled after use.
  • The board used is 2mm thick, tough and provides an excellent print finish.

This card substrate is perfect for one off events, access passes and tickets as well as alternatives to plastic cards for single use purposes. They will improve your carbon footprint and brand credentials, whilst still providing a unique and high-quality feel.


Hygienic – Sterile Cards and Products for the hospitality industry

There are always considerations to be made around frequently handled products and how to ensure that viral transmission and hygiene needs are met. Applying sterile coatings such as ‘Touch Shield’ to the surface of hotel key cards, key fobs or key tags is a great way to reassure your visitors and residents in the hospitality industry that you are providing a safe environment for their comfort.


Alternative to a sterile coating on room door key cards or key tags, there is the option where your accommodation uses metal room keys that require a room number tag, to have a printed room key tag that can be submersed in appropriate disinfectant overnight without ‘bleaching’ the print or damaging the key fob.


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