Sustainable Signage: 8 Substrates for Planet-Friendly Printing

At The Bernard Group, we pride ourselves on doing the best business in the best way, so we’ve just added lots of new eco-friendly materials to our ever-expanding sustainable printing repertoire. Get ready to do online printing differently and make your strategy a green one with sustainable signage.

Seven sustainable signage materials with nature imagery and two hands holding the one in the middle.

Transparent Tactics

With a variety of recycled paper stocks, plus innovative hemp paper available on tons of products, we’re already an eco-friendly online printer. So why keep taking the next sustainable steps? Because green printing is part of who we are. And we know it’s part of who you are, as small business owners and socially conscious customers.

Now we’ve gone beyond eco-friendly paper stocks to eco-friendly signage substrates, ensuring all your marketing collateral is as green as it can be. (Did you know we already had two sustainable signs? Keep reading to find out which ones they are!)

And these aren’t just any green materials, by the way. Matt Hazel, senior director of Supply Chain Management at the Bernard Group explained why: “Sustainability is more critical than ever. And we’re passionate about sourcing the best materials with the least environmental impact.”

That sourcing includes testing various sustainable materials to ensure their viability. Meaning? These new materials give you the same, if not better, quality than less-sustainable alternatives. When it comes to sustainable products, we don’t settle.


As an eco-focused online printing shop, sustainability is a must. Learn more about our environmental efforts: Sustainable Printing: Smartpress’ Carbon Neutral Program

Ethical Electives

So what are these new materials? What makes these eco-friendly signs such comparable green alternatives? Hazel broke down the process.

“There’s a lot that goes into finding a sustainable material that works for the printing industry,” he said. “When we secure one, we put it through a series of tests.” Testing includes seeing if the white point of the material will be white enough to match customers’ colors, if it will hold ink properly and if it can be cut without chipping that ink.

“If it passes the initial tests, we do some pretty sophisticated color testing and profiling,” Hazel said. “Once we’ve established that the material is indeed sustainable, prints the way it should and hits the colors needed, we share it with our clients.”

Now available on five of our existing indoor sign products, check out our six new substrates’ sustainable specs:

A rigid paper board sign printed with an image of tree rings.
A styGreen sign printed with a beach and ocean image.
A paper-based styrene alternative sign printed with an image of trees with white and black trunks.
A foamless foamcore sign printed with an image of dark green leaves.
A hand pulling back the corner of a paper-based backlit film sign printed with a tree design.
A rolled up post-consumer waste cardstock sign printed with an image of dark water.

Rigid Paper Board

  • Sustainable alternative for PVC Foam Signs
  • Rigid surface that’s moisture-resistant
  • 100% recyclable and compostable
  • 10% FSC certified post-consumer waste


  • Sustainable alternative for Styrene Signs
  • 100% plant-based and recyclable
  • Produces up to 80% fewer greenhouse gases than its non-eco counterparts
  • Ocean-safe (dissolves in water) and biodegradable (breaks down in landfills)
  • Uses up to 52% fewer non-renewable resources in its manufacturing process

Paper-Based Styrene Alternative

  • Sustainable alternative for Styrene Signs
  • Smooth, coated substrate that’s static-free for smoother, faster printing
  • 100% paper-based and recyclable
  • PVC-free and FSC certified
  • Resistant to fingerprints (paper-based composition does not capture oils)

Foamless Foamcore

  • Sustainable alternative for Foam Board Signs
  • Multi-layer paperboard with a smooth surface and embossed paper core
  • 100% recyclable and compostable
  • FSC certified

Paper-Based Backlit Film

  • Sustainable alternative for Backlit Signs
  • Bright white coated substrate
  • 100% recyclable
  • 10% FSC certified post-consumer waste

Post-Consumer Waste Cardstock

  • Sustainable option for Cardstock Signs
  • Recycled paperboard with clay-coated surface
  • 100% recyclable
  • 100% post-consumer waste
  • When building this type of sustainable option, consistency is always critical because it’s using a different mix of recycled content to try and make an identical product. Hazel said, “We’ve worked to make sure the quality and performance of this substrate is one of the most consistent products available. The frosting on the cake is that it’s all collected and made in Minnesota.” (And since The Bernard Group is based in Minnesota, we say “Skol!”)
The corner of a cardstock sign with a pale pink and red design.
The corner of a honeycomb cardboard sign with a white and teal design.

Remember those two eco-friendly custom signs we said were already part of our online printing services? We’re talking about Cardstock Signs and Honeycomb Cardboard Signs. Ideal for marketing, trade shows, presentations, retail and more, both of these sign products have always been excellent green alternatives. Here’s why:

Cardstock Signs

  • Coated substrate that’s pliable yet rigid
  • 100% recyclable
  • FSC certified

Honeycomb Cardboard Signs

  • White cardstock with a Kraft honeycomb core
  • 100% recyclable and compostable

As you design your signs with custom artwork and content, might we suggest one more detail? One you won’t want your customers to miss? We love being an eco-friendly printer and love letting people know it, so do the same and add our Sustainable Printing logo to your signs. It’s free to download here and an easy way to score some environmental points with your customers.


Not sure which sign material to choose? We can help with that: Vital Signs: Choosing Custom Signage for Indoor or Outdoor Use

“Together, we have the power to change the world.”

Six sustainable substrate options lined up in a row.

Printing with the Planet

As your eco-friendly printer, we’ll continue to search for innovative and convenient green alternatives to better your business and our planet. Sustainability is one of our core values, and with recycled paper stocks, green sign substrates and a 100% carbon neutral program, we’re just getting started.

“As your print partner, we are doing our part in finding the greenest and most renewable materials that exist,” said Hazel. “I’m convinced that together, we have the power to change the world.”