Wallpaper is making a comeback and makes it possible to cover the walls with our favourite motifs. Far from the kitsch wallpapers of our grandparents, although they also have a crazy charm, designers are modernizing them. However, not all wallpapers are ecological and sometimes even harmful, with serious impacts on our health. This is an opportunity to review the materials that make up this wall covering and their VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) emissions. We will also discuss their impact in terms of ecology related to the printing process itself.
Polluting and harmful wallpapers
There are different paper compositions:
- Vinyl-free paper: non-polluting but only suitable for dry rooms (not to be used as a wall covering in the bathroom in particular), it remains a fragile paper. There are different paper weights. That is, the heavier the paper, the thicker it will be and therefore durable over time.
- Vinyl: a thin layer of PVC is glued to the paper. Relief papers are printed in relief thanks to a PVC layer printed by heating. The PVC contained in these papers emits Volatile Organic Compounds into our interiors that affect our health.
- Non-woven: it appeared in the 1980s and is essentially made of cellulose. Some are completed with a thin layer of PVC, however there are also 100% natural cellulose wallpapers made of 75% recycled paper, 24% natural pine wood chip fibres and 1% natural binders.
The cartridges of our household printers are recyclable into specific cartons, and that’s for a good reason. These empty cartridges contain components that are extremely toxic to the environment (iron oxide, aluminium, arsenic and silver nitrate in the photoconductive drum…). They contaminate the soil and pose a threat to our health. Ink also emits VOCs and dust when printed due to pigments emitted into the atmosphere. On the other hand, ecological and vegetable inks are not polluting and do not emit VOCs.
Choose a sustainable and non-toxic wallpaper
It is preferable to choose a wallpaper printed on a paper from sustainably managed forest, in other words, labelled PEFC (Pan European Forest Certification) or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).
As a reminder, in addition to reducing the quantity of wood available, deforestation also leads to poor air quality. Trees “recycle” CO2 through photosynthesis, in other words they purify our air. That is, young trees recycle more because they are necessary for their growth. However, today we produce more CO2 than plants are able to absorb, it is the greenhouse effect. Moreover, bringing a tree species from the other side of the world also has a significant ecological impact. That’s why it’s important to choose it carefully.
100% non-woven papers are to be preferred since they emit significantly less Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) once they are applied in our interiors. In addition, non-woven papers have a slight textile effect that makes them warm.
Labelled printing Imprim’Vert
This label ensures that:
- Printer waste, including cartridges, is collected by approved bodies for recycling;
- No toxic products are used, including the use of solvent-free inks. The environmental impact is of course positive, but it also limits the emission of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).
The label also requires awareness-raising among employees and the general public, the security of hazardous liquid storage, and quarterly monitoring of the printing plant’s energy consumption!
It is best to apply it with solvent-free wallpaper glue to limit VOC emissions.