Filing and storage enclosures for records management and archives in tropical areas
The climate in tropical areas can make the filing of management records and archival storage a serious challenge. Humidity, fungal growth, rust and rodent activity are the enemies of paperboard files, metal ring mechanisms and boxes. An Australian company - Albox Australia Pty Ltd - has developed a range of polypropylene products that provide a welcome option for members of PARBICA.
This range of products includes alternatives for each step, from office to archive, in records management. There is also a complete system for the filing of photographic items.
Albox is well known in Australia and its products have been in widespread use for many years including customers in the tropical North and amongst our Indigenous Communities. The Public Records Office in Hong Kong and the Island of Yap ( 3 typhoons per year, annual rainfall 120 inches, average humidity 83%) use the Albox archive boxes.
The change from paperboard to polypropylene also has environmental benefits that meet today's stringent requirements.
Polypropylene (PP) is a plastic material produced from the previously waste gases in petroleum refining plants. Instead of being burned off (a high CO2 emission) the gases are used to produce PP and the other plastic polymers. The production of PP therefore reduces greenhouse emissions and the production process is energy efficient.
PP contains no lead or heavy metals or leachable components. It is much less flammable than paperboard and it gives off no toxic gases when burned.
PP is chemically un-reactive and biologically inert. It is pH7 neutral.
Albox PP products can replace traditional paperboard items in records management thus saving the cutting down of trees to make the paperboard.
PP is much more durable than paperboard and the much longer lifestyle reduces the amount of waste. PP is not damaged by water and will not tear or deteriorate with frequent handling. It does not propagate bacterial growth or attract rodents (it has no food value)..
Paperboard products such as ring binders that have metal rings that can rust in tropical areas and they are not recyclable. The Albox alternative files have nylon ring mechanisms and are recyclable.
The old fallacious argument .for the use of paperboard in tropical areas is that paperboard can absorb moisture. The problem with that idea is that moisture absorbed activates chemical reaction and fungal growth. The life of the enclosure can be very short indeed and boxes can turn green with mould growth. Polypropylene is inert.
Polypropylene should not be confused with one of the earlier plastics - PVC - which is not good for records management and storage products. As PVC ages it releases acids that attack the contents of PVC enclosures. This is particularly bad for photographic items.