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Another step on the path to sustainability

Another step on the path to sustainability

Signs Express first opened its centre in Chester in 2012 in order to service the sign and graphic requirements of companies operating in the areas surrounding the roman built city, including Deeside, Frodsham and Ellesmere Port.

Its clients include the world-famous Chester Zoo, which is not only the most visited zoo in the UK; it’s also a conservation and education charity that is committed to preventing extinction. The zoo, which is home to 27,000 animals, covers 125 acres of zoological gardens and, as it also attracts a whopping 1.9 million visitors each year, its wayfinding signs play a vital part in its smooth running and visitor satisfaction.

Commenting on his company’s relationship with Chester Zoo Signs Express Chester’s Production Manager, Tom Lloyd explained: “It started in 2013 when we produced a single banner and has grown from there, and we are now the zoo’s largest sign supplier. We cover everything from the production of the printed educational signs by the animals’ habitats, through to the catering signage, wayfinding and the decorative effects that are used to enhance the Zoo’s overall appearance, including those that are located inside some of the habitats.”

A key material that has been used throughout the zoo is the Endutex manufactured Terra Banner, which is distributed across the UK by Soyang Europe. In 2018, Chester Zoo signed up to become part of a plastic reduction scheme that has had a big impact on the way it uses printed materials.

Fred Howat, Senior Exhibitions and Interpretation Officer at Chester Zoo, confirmed: “As a conservation education charity, we’re always seeking to reduce our footprint on the planet by making the zoo is as sustainable as possible, which includes the production of the signage, and exhibition and marketing materials we provide for our visitors across the site. We’d been using PVC banners for some time as they were both durable and budget-friendly, but in order to achieve our sustainability goals, we decided to look for a recyclable option instead.

“After some research, which involved contacting Soyang Europe, we discovered the Terra Banner product, which aligned well with our requirements. Accordingly, Signs Express Chester provided some samples for us to test and we were immediately impressed. Terra Banner is lightweight, delivers great colour and clarity and is simple to install. Best of all it all met our durability and cost needs too. It’s since become our go-to product for banners and our PVC-based signage is being gradually phased out.”

Terra Banner is a PVC-free, 220gsm polyester banner with a special resin coating, which offers excellent whiteness and colourimetry.

Tom Lloyd takes up the story: “We originally used Terra Banner at the request of Chester Zoo, but it’s fast become our own material of choice too. As well as its environmental benefits, it’s also a signmaker’s dream, as it’s easy to print and finish and simple to install. It also it holds its colour brilliantly, even when used outdoors.”

As any sign and print company will attest, durability is one of the biggest concerns when producing print for use in outdoor environments, especially where signage is likely to be touched a lot by the public.

Lloyd continued: “ The Terra Banner offers excellent longevity in an outdoor environment and in this respect has exceeded anything else we’ve used. As well as using it for signage purposes, we’ve also used it for the games the Rangers play to help educate young people about the importance of animal conservation. Its tenacity makes it an option for many out of the box applications.”

Print installation at the zoo provides the team at Signs Express Chester with a rich and diverse working environment. Lloyd confides: it’s quite a privilege to be up close with the animals. The giraffes are my favourite and there’s one in particular that always comes over to say hello when I’m installing near its habitat!”

However, this unique installation environment also throws up challenges, which is why EcoStick , another product from Soyang’s portfolio of environmentally friendly materials, has been used to create the window graphics that feature on both the inside and outside of some of the animal habitats with glass frontages.

Lloyd observed: “We recently installed EcoStick, an optically clear PVC-free film, to the glass inside the tortoise habitat, which aroused some curiosity amongst the inhabitants. Thankfully, the only thing we have to worry about is how well the film will hold up to scratches from the tortoises’ feet, but EcoStick lasts very well and has a great finish. It is also very easy to apply, which enables us to get the job done in record time, a major consideration when you’ve got a hungry male lion just inches away from you on the other side of the glass!”

The last word goes to Fred Howat who said: “It’s great to see environmentally-friendly products emerging within the sign industry, and as environmental educators, it’s imperative that we make good use of them wherever possible. In this instance, Soyang Europe’s materials and Signs Express Chester’s expertise have combined to help us take one more step on the path to greater sustainability, and long may it continue!”

For further information on Soyang Europe visit: www.soyang.co.uk

 For further information on Signs Express Chester, visit: www.signsexpress.co.uk/branch/chester

 For further information on Chester Zoo, visit www.chesterzoo.org

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