Flitter finishes come under scrutiny

Environmental issues are firmly on the agenda.
Environmental issues are firmly on the agenda.

Coverage in the mainstream media yesterday (Jan 3) about a woman getting a particle of glitter from a Christmas card causing a lesion in her eye on top of the issues about recycling foiled and glittered wrap and cards, plus the serious message from David Attenborough on Blue Planet 11 has served to spark a debate about the relative merits of foiled, glitter and flitter finishes on cards.

Card publisher and designer Linda Wood (of Linda Wood Designs) has spoken out about the widespread use of flittered and foiled finishes on cards and wrap and the sustainability of these. As Linda told PG Buzz: “My main goal for the future is to make the planet cleaner and to hopefully try to cut down the amount of unrecyclable product our industry creates. I am probably not terribly popular to bring this up but I do feel strongly that steps should be taken to try to have as much recyclable product as possible for the future.”

Linda Wood.
Linda Wood.

Linda said it was seeing all the foiled and glittered cards and wrap on the market over the last two or three months that made her want to do something. As part of her action she has decided to discontinue her foiled range of cards and associated products from now on.

Linda’s concerns were heightened by watching BBC’s Blue Planet 11 and subsequent coverage in the media about how micro beads of plastic are making their way into our seas.

Is there more environmentally-friendly glitter out there?
Is there more environmentally-friendly glitter out there?

She claims that flitter is at risk of hampering the card industry’s high environmental credentials, exacerbated by its popularity, citing how Clintons’ recent research into changing Christmas card design trends has tracked a 27% increase in the use of glitter/flitter on Christmas cards.

Having posted her views on the popular Ladder Club closed Facebook page, Linda told PG Buzz that others agreed that as an industry there is a need to put these finishes under the spotlight and up the pressure for alternative environmentally-friendly glitter.

Linda Wood has discontinued her Metallica range as she has decided to move away from producing cards with foiling on.
Linda Wood has discontinued her Metallica range as she has decided to move away from producing cards with foiling on.

Already on the case is greeting card printer, The Sherwood Group and its sister company Loxleys). Jeremy Bacon, group ceo confirmed that the company “has already embarked on exploratory trials with bio-degradable alternatives to flitter and glitter. We are a way off proving their viability and suitability, but as the catering industry already use edible glitter it is most definitely worthy of investigation.”

A Linda Wood design.
A Linda Wood design.

With environmental credentials at the core of the group’s activities, Jeremy said: “We are also working on more environmentally friendly options for single use cellowrapping though the greeting card industry will benefit when larger use industries, such as ‘on the go’ food companies make a shift.”

However, Jeremy senses that the pace will change if the Government imposes legislation much in the same way as charging for plastic bags has done. That said, Jeremy points out, as long as the cards and wrapping paper, which include foiling and flitter are paper backed then the bulk of the product can be recycled. “The flitter and foiling are separated in the recycling process with the small residue dealt with responsibly, with incineration being the best option currently.”

The Art File’s md Ged Mace has highlighted that the environment will feature more on the agenda for the UK greeting card industry.
The Art File’s md Ged Mace has highlighted that the environment will feature more on the agenda for the UK greeting card industry.

Ged Mace, managing director of The Art File and member of the GCA Council cites environmental issues as being one of the key challenges the UK greeting card industry will have to face in 2018 and beyond. As he points out: “As an industry we have come a long way to ensure greeting cards meet the environmental credentials expected by the market. However, some of the finishes used on cards, like flitter, are likely to face further scrutiny about their recyclable qualities. Plastics are already a hot subject and as an industry we need to explore positive alternatives.”

* The run up to and immediately post Christmas saw a flurry of media coverage about recycling wrapping paper, highlighting how different councils have different facilities. In an article on the BBC website Simon Ellin, the chief executive of the Recycling Association, said: “It’s a nightmare for paper mills this time of year. Not all wrapping paper is actually paper.” Some is plastic-based. Simon goes onto say that manufacturers should “make wrapping paper with recycling in mind.”

The recyclability of wrapping paper is dependent on what different councils’ capabilities.
The recyclability of wrapping paper is dependent on what different councils’ capabilities.

* Away from the environmental issues, glitter also came under the spotlight from a medial perspective. The Guardian, Sky News online and the Metro were among those that ran an article yesterday about an incident occurring over a year ago, where a woman who was ‘nearly blinded’ when her eye got infected after she got a bit of glitter from a Christmas card she had handcrafted caught in it (read the story here). The glitter had formed into a clump, causing a lesion that mimicked the symptoms of a herpes infection, the report said. The article was shared on The Guardian’s Facebook page and prompted many comments about the necessity of glitter on cards, with many commentators linking back to the environmental impact of these types of finishes.

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