As one of the largest global industries, the hospitality sector is a major contributor to the plastic waste problem.

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Until recently, most of the badges, lanyards and cards used within the hospitality industry have been made from a material now understood to be causing mass environmental damage…plastic.

To support efforts to help solve this pressing problem, Hampshire based company Made by Oomph – a leading producer of badges, lanyards and cards for the global hospitality industry – set out to find a credible and sustainable alternative to single-use plastic cards.

Matthew Payne, Founder of Made by Oomph tells the story and the impact the project has had so far…

The challenging path

“Plastic became so popular and widely used for a reason. As a material, it’s exceptionally useful thanks to it being lightweight, durable, cheap to produce, waterproof and mouldable.

“So, any alternative to single-use plastic must be commercially viable for the hospitality sector and deliver what consumers expect. A greener alternative must also be affordable. While many hospitality businesses are working hard to reduce their reliance on plastic, they also must remain profitable.

“My own personal mission from the beginning has been to create more sustainable solutions, way before the war against plastic became “trendy”. Back in 2008, Made by Oomph created some of the first eco-friendly cards from recyclable PET / biodegradable plastics which were revolutionary at the time. We also made cards from recyclable PET1 that can be recycled the same way as plastic bottles.

“We then turned our attention to natural materials which shared the properties of plastic, either in their raw form or after being processed, to offer cards to the hospitality industry which had all the features, finishes and functionality of the products they – and their customers – were used to.

Looking to mother nature for inspiration

“Finding a material which offered the durability of plastic without the pollution wasn’t easy but that didn’t dissuade us from pressing on with the project.

“The most environmentally friendly card Made by Oomph ever developed was a paper card with flower seeds within so you could simply ‘plant’ your event badge once you’re done with it.

“There were limitations with the paper types available at the time – and the durability was somewhat missing, yet the idea was there! It took a decade of research, development and testing of many variations of paper cards for quality and durability before we arrived at a solution that we were satisfied with and were confident that our event organiser clients would agree.

“Based on our research and development, pulper made from wood fibre was by far the best material for the job, being strong and durable yet 100% natural. It’s also an ideal base to add brand customisation and personalisation.

Pulper material is sourced from sustainable forests and can be manufactured using 100% renewable wind-powered electricity, meaning the process is carbon-neutral. It’s hardy stuff too; it tolerates the harshest conditions like mud and water without any help from plastic.

“Pulper can be precision cut to any size and shape – perfect for hospitality brands looking to inject a bit of personality into their badges, lanyards or key cards – and can accommodate technologies such as magnetic stripes, NFC and RFID chips.

“Pulper also prints crisply with premium colour reproduction using standard offset printing techniques without the need for a plastic coating or laminate, so there is no trade-off between aesthetics and functionality.

“Being a completely natural material, it’s also fully recyclable in the mixed paper bin after use. Reincarnation is a beautiful thing.

Delivering on our promise

When we introduced our customers to the Pulper card the response was incredible and made the whole process, which was challenging at times, 100% worth it.

“As consumers start to demand more from businesses when it comes to protecting the environment, those who don’t evolve and decide to keep with the status quo risk being left behind. Just look at Glastonbury, which banned single use bottled water in 2019. Instead of getting a backlash from inconvenienced music fans, they were praised the world over as a best practice example of fighting plastic waste at scale.

“We’re certainly seeing more of our hospitality customers investing in becoming greener and being able to offer them competitively priced recycled plastic and pulper cards, lanyards and badges has made phasing out single-use plastic easier for them.”