A Minneapolis-based company is attempting to redefine the phrase “paper or plastic” with a new product for big-box and quick-serve merchants.

The Meyers Printing Companies Inc., a company that creates point-of-sale and promotional products, created the Meyers greencard, an environmentally friendly alternative to the PVC cards commonly used throughout the quick-serve industry for couponing and loyalty.

The greencard, made from 100 percent recycled content paper, can be used as a gift, identification, download, loyalty, and point-of-sale card for consumers.

“For the quick-serve industry, these absolutely can be used for promotions such as coupons and games,” says Gregg Temple, president of the company’s label and card group.

While big-name companies such as Alltel, Disney, and Nokia have taken advantage of the greencard, no quick-serve brands have gotten on board yet.

The cards are made of paper, and the company developed a way to coat them with a hard, shiny finish, much like what is found on credit cards. It can handle holographic images, hot stamping, bar codes, pin encoding, and magnetic strips.

According to Temple, the greencard fits with the environmental initiatives of many large retailers and restaurant chains, which call for the elimination of PVC from packaging and promotional products.

“Recycled paper is great because paper is so widely recyclable that in almost every community across the country, you can recycle it,” says Michael Oshman, the executive director of the Green Restaurant Association, a national organization that promotes environmentally friendly practices throughout the industry.

Oshman says one of the hurdles Meyers faces is the perception that the paper greencard is not durable, especially for uses that involve reloading the card with money or accumulating points for frequent-diner programs.

While Temple says the greencard can be used multiple times, the company does not yet have data regarding how many times it may be reused.

The greencard is generally less expensive than a plastic card alternative, particularly in higher volumes. Temple says a large volume order for the greencard can be made in a couple of days rather than the 10–12 weeks that typical plastic card makers set for their lead time.

Ultimately, the greencard at least satisfies the environmental demands of those who will use them the most: consumers.

“The consumer is the one that has become more vocal and more educated … this is a consumer-driven movement,” Oshman says. “By and large this is the reason why restaurants are trying to be environmentally friendly.”

By Brendan O’Brien