Leaving a Lasting Impression
Emediagroup is producing race bibs that blossom in the spring.
In the past, thrown-out race bibs often represented an ending or loss. But thanks to a South Carolina print shop’s innovative bib creation, beauty now blossoms from the “number,” leading to a lasting memorial of a runner’s hard work and dedication.
Emediagroup creates its eco-friendly bibs for running events made from post-consumer waste. The bibs’ “eco-friendliness” has an in-ground twist: The seed bibs themselves are infused with Black-eyed Susan seeds. So, once the race has been completed, contestants can plant them in their home garden to bloom.
Utilizing its HP Indigo Press 3050, Emediagroup prints the 7.5 x 7.5-inch bibs on seed paper with HP Electro ink. The print shop makes bibs available in full color print with personalization and backprint. Because the bibs are made from fragile seed paper, use is restricted to races 10K distances and under, unlike the more durable Tyvek bibs, which can withstand longer use.
With the trend of races “going green,” race directors are using seed bibs to emphasize the eco-friendly nature of the event. Emediagroup began creating the bibs as part of its “finish green” program to end the paper waste of past running events.
“Being a full-service printing agency, we were wasting so much paper. Our first green initiative was to simply provide a recycling program for our Tyvek bibs,” says Beth Evansek, Emediagroup’s event media specialist. “The idea for the seed bibs sprung out of a brainstorm for how we could be even more environmentally cautious.”
Emediagroup then embarked on a four-month trial process to determine the best type of seed paper that could not only withstand wear and tear while running a marathon, but would also be compatible with the HP ink. After the lengthy trial period, Emedia was able to decide the best makeup and thickness of seed paper for the bib job. Although most seed paper prints well, says Evansek, it presents a challenge in that it must sit overnight because it does not cure as quickly as the typical Tyvek bibs.
Since 2009, the company has produced more than 45,000 100-percent recyclable race bibs for clients, which include running-event directors and management companies. “Now the bibs are not only easily recycled, they are beautiful to look at once they’re planted,” says Evansek.
Although Emediagroup also has wide-format machines in its printer array, the company has yet to attempt to print on seed paper using wide-format technologies.