Plastic Card Services (PCS) in Macclesfield has developed one of Europe’s first plastic loyalty card schemes manufactured with both green materials and processes for Denmark’s largest retailer Coop Danmark.

The Cheshire-based business has produced 2 million Coop DanmarkPlus Loyalty cards, working in partnership with their Danish agent, Logocard, using biodegradable polymers and KBA’s B3 GENIUS 52UV waterless print technology – the first in the UK to do so.

PCS’s GENIUS 52UV features KBA’s unique patented anilox inking system for keyless, waterless, alcohol-free printing, low product waste and consistent colour control across the sheet and throughout the run.

PCS Managing Director Rob Nicholls and the KBA Genius 52UV (1)

It has five printing units configured in a ‘V’ around a central impression cylinder so that each sheet is printed without gripper transfers true to register; the anilox roller, blanket plate cylinder and printing cylinder all have exactly the same diameter to guarantee ghosting-free print. Ink density and printing stability are controlled by temperature adjustment of the plate cylinder and anilox rollers and a powerful dryer is built into the delivery unit to cure the UV inks. Printable substrates include carton boards, paper, PVC, ABS, PS, PE, PET and PC from 0.1 to 0.8mm. Operation is via a CIP4-ready touchscreen and typical job changeover time is no more than 7 minutes with about ten sheets of run-up waste. Another significant factor is a footprint of less than 12m2.

The loyalty cards have been distributed from the PCS’s Macclesfield manufacturing site to households across Denmark in the country’s largest ever loyalty scheme.

In a recent development a further 50,000 additional cards have been ordered destined for Greenland – the first ever biodegradable card scheme in the rapidly-changing Danish sovereign state.

The bioPVC material is designed to decompose in less than three years, a considerable improvement on the conventional 300-1000 year cycle for PVC.

It conforms to the International Biodegradable Standard ISO 14855 and decomposes in water, soil, compost or standard landfill material, leaving no toxic effect on the environment.

Using a waterless print process significantly reduces emissions or harmful compounds into the atmosphere and is considered by the industry as market-leading in efficiency, waste management and quality.

The decision to ‘buy bio’ has cost Coop Danmark only a small percentage more than the standard PVC equivalent.

PCS produces over 50 million cards a year for household names across the UK including Next, Virgin, Ikea, Ford, Iceland and npower. The new bio offering will be made available to all existing clients and included alongside standard quotes for new work.

Managing Director Rob Nicholls has set ambitious targets for his firm and client base from the technology.

“We want 50% of our business converted to bio in the next five years and we think this is very doable. It is an easy, low-cost switch to make, which we believe will appeal to many companies who are interested in investing in sustainable businesses, but don’t want to compromise on quality.”

Coop Danmark’s loyalty scheme is the biggest in Denmark, reflecting the retailer’s market dominance. It accounted for 38% of total sales in the country in 2008. The bio card option was a perfect fit with the world-renowned ‘cooperative’ philosophy and is helping to support the company’s own sustainability goals.

PCS has invested over £2 million in developing sustainable print services in the last two years. The Company is one of the few manufacturing plants with a recycling, residual heat energy methodology, where machine processing heat is reused to heat the building. This has reduced the daily building heating in the winter from 16 hours down to four hours.

PCS is also proactive in recycling waste from its processes. “All of our waste PVC is turned into drainpipes, shoe soles and flooring and our waste paper products recycled also,” said Nicholls.

The company is focusing its ‘buy bio’ conversion efforts on retail, hotel and leisure, print management and advertising agency sectors. “This is where we have great existing relationships,” said Rob. “We’ve had a very positive response already.”

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