Everybody is doing it. How Records Managers can help.

"Reduce, re-use, recycle" are the catch cries of the environmentally aware. Governments, companies and individuals are all being asked to do their bit; Records Managers can help too.

The first target is right at our fingertips - metal rings in folders. Whatever the cover material, metal ring fittings such as in lever arch files render them non-recyclable. Until recently there were not many alternatives but now there are suppliers of folders with nylon rings. These folders can be recycled - even shredded if necessary. The nylon rings also contribute to longer life folders because they cannot misalign.

The second target is folders using paperboard covers. Polypropylene covered paperboard became popular when everyone realised that PVC was a noxious undesirable material for records management. But the bulk of these new folder covers is still paperboard. The paperboard gave the rigidity that consumers were accustomed to. Paperboard means cutting down trees and even though it can be re-cycled - if it does not have metal rings attached - reprocessing is relatively expensive and the recycled paper products are not always attractive.


How much better is it to use a product that is made from waste products anyway? One of the attractive features of polypropylene - that ubiquitous plastic that now bobs up everywhere in food packaging - is that it is produced from those waste gasses that we use to see burning at the top of refinery chimneys. Polypropylene is now at the leading edge of the new products available to Records Managers.

Compared to paperboard, polypropylene in record enclosures is virtually indestructible - and it is recyclable. The only perceived disadvantage is that polypropylene is flexible, but that is also a virtue. "Flexibility is strength" is the old saying. So the developers of alternatives to lever arch files designed a freestanding folder that stands upright on the shelf - takes up less room too.

Polypropylene is also naturally Ph neutral and thus perfectly suited to archiving. And the nylon mechanisms run rings around metal fittings for archives.

These new polypropylene folders with nylon rings fit perfectly with the environmental guidelines. They will reduce consumption because of their longer life, and they can be reused and are recyclable. In addition, they don't use natural resources; no trees are cut down and no animal products are used to make them.