Building an Eco-Friendly Retail Display

3 minutes
Katie Kochelek

Building an Eco-Friendly Retail Display

3 minutes
Katie Kochelek


Let’s face it. Large retail display programs that roll out to hundreds of locations aren’t exactly a hallmark of eco-friendly practices. Between manufacturing, delivery methods, and disposal, displays can lead to waste and pose challenges to sustainability.

However, there are ways to be mindful of the environmental impact when planning for and designing a display program. Choosing the right type of display and material can support your commitment to eco-friendly practices.

Investing in Permanent Displays

When first considering point of purchase displays, it’s easy to assume temporary displays would be more environmentally friendly. They’re frequently made from corrugated cardboard which, of course, is easily recycled.

However, printed plastic and cardboard displays have a short lifespan in the field, causing more waste with each turnover.

Primarily manufactured with steel or plastic, permanent retail displays last much longer in a retail environment and are easy to update when designed with future proofing in mind.

At the end of the day, thinking long-term means a permanent display can be a lasting pillar in stores without the need to dispose and replace frequently.

Environmentally Friendly Display Materials

Did you know 70 percent of all steel ever produced is still in use? In addition, recycling it uses 25 percent less energy and generates only a quarter of the water and air pollution that producing it from raw materials creates. Thankfully, most permanent retail displays are manufactured with steel, making it eco-friendly because of its simplicity to recycle.

But using sustainable materials doesn’t end at steel. Below are more options for display materials that are eco-friendly:

  1. Plant-based, Biodegradable Plastics (PLA Bioplastic). This plastic is derived from sources like corn starch or sugarcane, making it an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional petroleum-based plastics. Under the right conditions, this material is biodegradable
  2. Fabric Graphics. Using fabric instead of traditional printed graphics on a display is also more eco-conscious due to the reusability of the graphics, ease of recycling, and because inks and dyes used for fabric can often be less toxic than those used in traditional printing method
  3. Soy-based Inks.Made from the renewable resource soybeans, soy ink is more environmentally friendly than traditional inks that are derived from non-renewable fossil fuels. It also costs the same as conventional inks.
  4. Bamboo.With such a rapid growth rate and a higher yield per hectare, bamboo has been a good substitute for wood when brands have been concerned with building an eco-conscious retail display. Keep in mind, however, it’s not as easily sourced as traditional wood products like MDF.
  5. Digital Signage. Investing in digital signage over monthly print kits can also reduce costs and the carbon footprint because it saves on materials like ink and print substrates as well as transportation. This type of signage is updated digitally instead of physically.

Keep in mind, sustainability doesn’t always come cheap. Investing in materials like PLA Plastic, bamboo, and digital signage can increase costs per display. However, if being mindful of the environmental impact is part of your brand’s values, extending that mission to your in-store marketing efforts makes sense.

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