Frequently Asked Questions

What is so bad about a PVC card?

  • PVC and Bio PVC are made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource. 
  • PVC and Bio PVC require large amounts of energy to manufacture, most of which comes from non-renewable sources of energy such as coal and petroleum. 
  • Among other things, PVC and Bio PVC emit dioxins and furans in the factory, in the home, in the trash and when it is incinerated. These poisonous chemicals are linked to cancer and birth defects. (Just Google "PVC" to see what we mean.) 
  • PVC will remain in landfill and waste sites for hundreds of years.

What makes a card Eco-friendly?

An eco-friendly card is just that, friendly to the environment. The substrate does not stay in a landfill forever. The inks are not toxic. The energy used to produce the card is not polluting the air we breathe.

  • Card thickness: Many card producers use 30pt plastic to produce their cards, we use 25pt plastic. This is a 16.6% reduction in raw materials.. WITHOUT any loss of performance or durability. Now that's environmentally friendly! 
  • The Inks: We use 100% vegetable-based inks for our PentaGONE GREEN Card. Vegetable-based inks and varnishes have been around for many years and both are 100% biodegradable. 
  • The "Look": Excellent graphic reproduction. No problem with personalization or magnetic stripes. Ask us for samples so you can see for yourself.


What safe and responsible options are there to PVC?

  • Paper: The infrastructure for recycling paper based cards already exists. Paper cards are 100% recyclable and biodegradable as long as they are not married to dissimilar materials such as laminates. 
  • Styrene: Like paper, Styrene is readily recyclable in most municipalities but must be identified with recycle code #6 inside the chasing arrows logo. 
  •  The PentaGONE GREEN Card: Uses a bio-based plastic that is certified 100% biodegradable and compostable. The PentaGONE GREEN Card is not a PVC card! It is a unique agri-based (non-petroleum) polymer made from renewable, bio-based materials such as corn, soy, wheat, potatoes and tapioca. The material is especially designed for the graphic arts industry and is manufactured in a plant utilizing renewable energy. It is certified biodegradable and compostable by the Biodegrable Products Institute (BPI) and the United States Composting Council.


Degradable, Biodegradable & Photodegradable: What is the difference?

Degradable products start with the petroleum base and at the end of its life cycle will break down leaving some remnants in the soil. Biodegradable products start with renewable resources and at the end of its life cycle will convert to carbon/dirt ; Degradable means that if the plastic is placed into a commercial composting facility, the plastic will degrade into millions of molecules of plastic. The plastic itself does not decompose back into it's original organic components! Biodegradable means that a plastic card like The PentaGONE GREEN Card will decompose into its basic organic elements. Photodegradable means that ultra-violet rays from the sun break down the plastic into smaller plastic pieces - but plastic nonetheless. The remaining plankton-sized particles, known to scientists as "mermaid's tears" remain in the food chain as disguised toxins. Biodegradation and degradation can only occur in personal and industrial compost facilities.

How is the PentaGONE GREEN Card different from other "enviro-friendly" cards? 

The PentaGONE-GREEN Card is BPI & USCC certified! Our product uses PLA without the petrochemical modifiers! The manufacturer uses plant/crop based starches (potato skins and wheat starches) along with natural mineral binders to enhance the impact strength. Through the use of these materials, our sheet remains compostable and biodegradable . . . and it is certified by BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) and the USCC (United States Composting Council). Many of the other "enviro-friendly" plastic cards have polylactic acid (PLA) as their main ingredient. PLA, in and of itself, is biodegradable and compostable but it is too brittle to be printed on. To make this product usable for the printing industry, petroleum-based impact modifiers are added to the PLA. These modifiers do not compost and the resulting sheet cannot be certified

What other "Green" features does The PentaGONE Green card have?


  • The manufacturer who produces our plastic is a certified EPA Green Power Partner. They use renewable energy (electricity) generated from wind (vast majority), landfill gas generation (methane) and some hydropower. 
  • Our standard card thickness is 25 pt (your credit card is 30 pt.). This represents a 16.6% savings in raw materials. This contributes to reduced energy consumption when it is manufactured, transported and handled. It also means that there is less material to compost.


Is there a compostable laminated card? 

If you really want to ensure that you are buying a completely compostable and "Green" card, ask your supplier the following questions:

  • If the card is made from PLA, is it certified biodegradable? 
  • What is the laminate made from? If it is made from PVC or other non-degradable material, it is stopping the micro organisms from doing their job of breaking down the core plastic. 
  • What kind of adhesive is used to glue the laminate to the card? Many adhesives are toxic and come from petrochemicals. Is the adhesive certified compostable? 
  • What kind of ink is used to print the graphics? Many plastic printers use UV inks because they are easy to apply to plastic but most UV inks are quite toxic. We use vegetable based inks. 
  • Do the cards have to be shipped halfway across the country to complete the different production steps? and finally . . . 
  • Do you really need to laminate your gift card at all? Unlike the credit and debit cards issued by your bank, gift cards are only used once or twice before they are thrown away.

To Laminate, or Not to Laminate . . . what is the alternative?

Many gift cards are produced by laminating a PVC plastic core with PVC laminate. PVC does not biodegrade. So applying a vinyl laminate (PVC) to a biodegradable plastic core would be counterproductive. In fact, it would create a barrier to the natural process of biodegradability and defeats the purpose of having a biodegradable card. We do not recommend laminating a PentaGONE GREEN Card. If you want a gloss look to the front of your card, we recommend a UV coating. UV is not considered "environmentally friendly" but a thin coating on the front represents a very small percentage of the total card. UV is the "lesser of two environmental evils."

Bar Codes and Magnetic Stripes

The amount of ink required to print variable information (bar codes, PIN's, account numbers, etc.) is so small that it does not affect the "biodegradability" of the card. We are still examining the biodegradability factor of the iron-based particles of a magnetic stripe, but they represent such a small portion of the card's mass that we believe this is a non-issue.