We all love to display our most prized possessions. In a K-Pop stan’s case, that might be our bias’s photocard. Unfortunately, for many, they’re discovering theirs damaged.
While we tend to store our photocards in products like sleeve binders to protect them, these products might actually be the culprit of damage to our possessions. A lot of sleeve binders, including those sold by companies like Big Hit/HYBE, contain PVC. Over time, the chemicals from the PVC will bring damage to the photocards rather than protect them.
Polyvinyl chloride (also known as PVC and vinyl) is a thermoplastic, and “as such, its physical properties change with temperature variations.” This material is used in just about everything from children’s toys to pipes to photo storage pages!
In order to make PVC more flexible, plasticizers have been added to the compound that should be considered dangerous and damaging to archival materials. These plasticizers will not only release chemical gases into the air, but will cause the breakdown of the material over a surprisingly short period of time. Photo pages will seem ‘oily’ to the touch and will begin to soften and yellow. To protect your photos from damage, say no to PVC and look for polypropylene pages instead.
— KMC Sleeves
Even the clear plastic phone cases we tend to use to display our favorite photocard usually contain PVC!
This is why you may have seen some people sleeve their photocards all of this time with clear penny sleeves. Most of the items we think of as being a protectant and storage for our photocards, especially phone cases and sleeve binders, are actually going to damage them. So, if you do choose to continue to store them that way, it’s best to invest just about $5 USD in a decent pack of sleeves.
It is also important to buy “acid-free” in addition to no PVC. This term was popularized in the 90s by sports card collectors. Some had discovered that the materials used to store their cards had caused them to yellow and harden, leaving their collection damaged.
There are also some sleeve binders like the ones used to collect Pokémon trading cards that are both PVC-free and acid-free, which is what you should look for and check first before purchasing. If you have a binder like that, you do not need to worry and buy sleeves for your photocards. Additionally, PP or Polypropylene material is better when looking to properly keep photocards because it’s both heat-resistant and provides a protective layer.
If you happen to have some photocards left in your albums, don’t worry! That is also a perfectly fine place to store them.