Tomorrow's World

Sustainable alternatives to plastic 2: Cygnus Eco Board

by FESPA | 27/04/2020
Sustainable alternatives to plastic 2: Cygnus Eco Board

The second of three alternatives that provide excellent printing performance without any of the environmental concerns associated with plastics.

Manufactured by the Swanline Group in the UK, Cygnus Eco Board is entirely made from environmentally friendly fibre but also has added resistance to water, meaning it can be used for temporary internal and external signage and moisture-sensitive packaging. Swanline Paper and Board MD Ross Griffin guides us through its abilities and applications.

Ross Griffin, Swanline Group

What sort of products is Cygnus Eco Board designed to replace?

Cygnus Eco Board is the ideal alternative to soft foam boards, foam PVC, fluted polypropylene, PE coated materials, HIPS and other plastic composites – and even aluminium composite

What are the benefits of Cygnus Eco Board in comparison with plastics? 

Cygnus Eco Board is easily recycled and re-used, in-fact it can be recycled up to eight times. It is compostable – it has EN13432 (compostability) certification - and biodegradable and it can be disposed of in normal paperboard waste stream. It is also made from up to 70% recycled content and is FSC certified. In terms of weight, one of the benefits is that it can be made in different callipers for specific applications. If weight is a key factor of the application, then it is our job to work with customers to propose the correct calliper of material that will perform yet not be overly heavy or light depending upon the requirement.

Mop tray in Waitrose supermarket made from Eco Board

Conversely, what can Cygnus Eco Board not do that plastics can? 

It won’t last for years as many plastics do – it disintegrates after 12 weeks and completely biodegrades after six months.

How does Cygnus Eco Board hold up to conditions outdoors? 

Unlike other ‘paper’ boards that absorb water and then very quickly lose their integrity, Cygnus Eco Board repels water, so it is a perfect alternative to plastic for temporary external signage and short-term moisture sensitive packaging. We have tested it in a wide range of weather conditions – rain, sleet, snow – and it continues to perform. 

How water-repellent Eco Board is made is a trade secret

Does Cygus Eco Board degrade over time?


How is Cygnus Eco Board made?

It is the result of more than five years of research and development by a mill in Sweden. It was initially designed to be a high-performance alternative for single-use plastic substrates used for external signage, but we have invested in our own R&D to develop over 40 applications. I can’t disclose how it is made – however, it is easy to manufacture in great volumes and can be to converted using litho, flexo, digital and screen print methods and conversion and gluing kits. 

How does brand representation in print and colour work on the board?

Cygnus Eco Board has exceptional ink adhesion due to its smooth print surface, so when compared to fluted polypropylene, there is no flute shadow. It can be printed on using offset, screen and flatbed digital print techniques. 

How easy is it to recycle Cygnus Eco Board at end of life?

Cygnus Eco Board can be disposed of in the normal paperboard waste stream. This presents a huge opportunity to brand owners and retailers as plastic substrates have a separate waste stream, which obviously costs more money. Once Cygnus Eco Board has served its purpose and enters the waste stream and can be recycled to eight times. It will start to disintegrate after 12 weeks and completely biodegrade after six months. As you would expect, the heavier weight Cygnus Eco Board, will last longer than the lighter ones. Also, we have launched a new plant-based coating, Cygnus Earth Coating, that extends the longevity of the board, especially for applications such as tree tubes, where they need to last for years. 

What other innovations are on the horizon? 

We have quite a number of other related Cygnus products. Cygnus Excellent Display Board is the market-leading display board for indoor signage and POS applications. This is another 100% fibre-based, smooth board with a clean white core which provides an ideal recyclable alternative to plastics such as foam PVC, styrene and foam boards. As I mentioned, we also have Cygnus Earth Coating, which is a plant based eco-friendly barrier that can be applied to Cygnus Eco Board to enhance resistance to water, oil and grease, and can also be used to protect ink as an overprint varnish. We also have a range of water-based coatings and foils that can produce metallic effects, but don’t contain any plastic or metal. 


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