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Sustainability and Responsibility at Printful in 2021

Sustainability and Responsibility at Printful in 2021
Elizabete Fleismane

By Elizabete Fleismane

6 min read

Our team is dedicated to improving Printful’s business practices every year, and we’re always working towards being more transparent. You can read all about Printful’s progress and commitments on our Sustainability and Responsibility page for a more general and up-to-date perspective.

Printful views overproduction as one of the biggest sustainability challenges the world faces today, and on-demand manufacturing is one of the tools we can use to address it. In addition to tackling overproduction, we’re focused on providing transparency and consistency to our customers.

Looking back at 2021 in particular, Printful introduced multiple new initiatives and improved existing features as well as our product range. Keep reading to learn all about the steps we took during the year to get closer to our sustainability and responsibility goals.

1. Doubled the number of eco-friendly products launched per year

In 2020, we introduced ten new eco-friendly products, and last year, we challenged ourselves to add twice as many. Our team has worked hard at expanding our eco-friendly product collection so that our customers can have a wide variety of sustainable options.

eco-friendly all-over print bikini
Source: beatrizlina

We’ll continue adding premium quality products made from sustainable materials in the coming years, with improved product availability in North America. Our team is also looking into raising the threshold for products to be considered eco-friendly. We proactively share our criteria with customers for them to make informed decisions based on their values.

Currently, our eco-friendly product collection consists of items that are made of at least 30% organic, recycled, or biodegradable materials.

When introducing eco-friendly products, we try to get better with every new addition. Currently, our eco-friendly product collection consists of:

  • Over thirty products made with more than 80%–100% sustainable materials
  • Only three products containing 40%–51% sustainable materials

This means we may reconsider and improve our eco-friendly product definition in the future. For now, we suggest looking at individual product descriptions if you want to know more about the materials.

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Learn more: How to Start a Sustainable Fashion Brand: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide

2. Released our first Printful Original product

For Printful, the obvious way to make sure our customers get the best products is to make them ourselves. After working on it for a while, we were finally able to launch the first product in our Printful Original line—the Premium Eco Hoodie

Our customers will be able to sell Printful Original products without any external designs, giving them the option to offer minimal and timeless items.

eco-friendly printful original premium hoodie
Source: Printful

We’re planning to launch more Printful Original products in the near future, focusing on premium quality, sustainability, and size inclusivity.

All Printful Original products and their materials will be carefully developed to achieve the best print quality. We are putting our expertise to good use by making products that are specifically made for print-on-demand. This gives us the ability to be less dependent on supplier stock levels or color options, and to alter products based on customer feedback.

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3. Added a Source tab to every product in our catalog

To make our product sourcing more transparent, in 2021, we added a Source tab to every product in our catalog. These details are there to help our customers keep their audience informed.

printful source tab user interface
Source: Printful

You can find the Source tab under every product in our catalog, and it contains information about the country of origin and manufacturer of the product, including links to the pages of each manufacturer. Some products also contain additional information, like the sustainability practices and most common materials used by the manufacturer.

Our eco-friendly products also contain links to supplier certificates like GOTS and OEKO-TEX in the Description tab. Our customers can download them and share this information with their audience.

4. Introduced post-consumer recycled plastic packaging

As of May 2021, our in-house facilities have started using packaging made of post-consumer recycled plastics for all apparel orders. Post-consumer recycled plastic (or PCR) is a material made from everyday recyclables like plastic bottles and other containers. This saves raw materials and requires less energy for production.

The recycled content share in our packaging varies, but it’s at least 50% for outer packaging and at least 30% for inner bags, which are only used for multi-item shipments. In Europe, the amount of recycled content for both layers of packaging is 70%–100%, and we’re planning to adapt the packaging in North America to also meet this standard.

In addition to this goal, we are also planning to test out new packaging solutions throughout 2022 to create more sustainable solutions for all our in-house facilities.

5. Established a Code of Conduct

In 2021, several teams across Printful joined forces to create a Printful Code of Conduct which contains a detailed list of guidelines we’ve set for our partners to maintain an ethical supply chain. We want our partnerships to support our values, and this is a way to communicate that with clarity and consistency.  

Printful aims to improve production sustainability, support employees and communities, help combat climate change, and encourage ethical working standards. Our Code of Conduct is centered around these areas of corporate responsibility, including a requirement for our suppliers not to support forced labor and not to collaborate with organizations that use illegal employment practices.

As of right now, we’re taking our time with introducing all Printful teams and our partners to this set of guidelines before bringing them to our suppliers and customers. We’re planning to publish our Code of Conduct in 2022.

6. Created products to reduce all-over print fabric waste

All-over print products are made by printing every part of an item on a roll of fabric, cutting them out, and sewing them together. This inevitably leaves some leftover fabric scraps that have to be thrown out. In the past, we have reduced the amount of fabric waste by optimizing our print layouts, but in 2021 we found a new way to put more of the fabric to good use.

all-over print product layout cutting process
Source: Printful

By now, we’ve launched two new all-over print products that can fit between the larger product layouts—the All-Over Print Scrunchie and All-Over Print Headband. These products help us fill some gaps in the fabric that would have otherwise become waste scraps while also providing our customers with new products.

7. Supported the communities around us

Printful encourages formal and informal education and supports different initiatives geared toward diversity, equity, and inclusivity. In the past, we’ve partnered with organizations that teach the skills needed to launch an online business or succeed in a technology-driven career. 

In 2021, we created a dedicated Sponsorship page to make the process of applying for our support easy to navigate. It contains our sponsorship policy, as well as information about some of the causes we’ve supported in the past.

Printful partnered with several local organizations throughout 2021, including Junior Achievement Latvia, Ecommerce Star, and Baltic Pride. In the future, we hope to also establish new partnerships in other Printful locations across the world.

baltic pride parade
Source: Baltic Pride

Room for growth

We are happy to share our achievements, but our sights are still firmly set on the future. There will always be things we can improve and we are excited to take on every challenge that comes our way.  

Seeing how much our customers care about sustainable practices motivates our entire team, so thank you for being with us. If you have any feedback or ideas on how we can become better, please leave them in the comments below.

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By Elizabete Fleismane on Jan 20, 2022

Elizabete Fleismane

Elizabete is a Content Writer with an affinity for brand building and strategic communication. She's an eager communicator with a mindful approach to adapting content for a diverse range of audiences and platforms.

Elizabete is a Content Writer with an affinity for brand building and strategic communication. She's an eager communicator with a mindful approach to adapting content for a diverse range of audiences and platforms.

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Elizabete Fleismane

By Elizabete Fleismane

6 min read Jan 20, 2022

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