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Blog / Beginner's handbook / Sustainability and Responsibility at Printful in 2022

Beginner's handbook

Sustainability and Responsibility at Printful in 2022

Sustainability and Responsibility at Printful in 2022
Alise Zindiga

By Alise Zindiga

5 min read

In the US alone, a staggering 11.3 million tonnes of textile waste is produced each year. As an on-demand production and fulfillment company, we aim to reduce that number and be part of the solution.

Printful only creates products once an order is placed, and 80% of our orders are delivered in the same region they’re fulfilled. That means that overproduction is greatly reduced, and strategically-located fulfillment centers ensure lower CO₂ emissions when transporting orders. 

What’s more, our team is always seeking new ways to improve our business practices—whether that’s through sustainable packaging or eco-friendly product development.

Curious about what we managed to do in 2022? Keep reading to learn more.

Infographic with sustainability-related stats

Source: Printful

Improving our sustainable packaging

In 2022, we increased the post-consumer-recycled (PCR) plastic content from 30%–70% to 90%–100% for all our apparel mailers in North America. It’ll take a while to deplete existing packaging stock, but with this change, we’re bringing up the minimum PCR plastic content threshold to 70% worldwide.

PCR plastic is made from everyday recyclables like plastic bottles. Recycled content saves raw materials and requires less energy to produce.

We’ve also modified our eco-friendly packaging design in North America. It’s still white-label packaging, but we’ve added an informative QR code and recycling information to improve the end customer’s experience. 

Post-consumer recycled plastic mailer

Source: Printful

 Before implementing these changes, we also did research on other sustainable packaging materials. For more details on our sustainable packaging journey, check out this article or watch the video below. 

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Expanding eco-friendly product availability in the US

Last year we added 22 new eco-friendly products. That includes switching from regular to recycled polyester fabric for certain Printful bestsellers like the All-Over Print Men’s Recycled Athletic Shorts and our All-Over Print Women’s Recycled Athletic Shorts

In fact, we’ve launched more recycled all-over-print products than ever and introduced eco-friendly SOL’S products in the US, improving the global availability of our eco-friendly product collection.

You can learn more about SOL’S approach to sustainability from their CEO, Audélia Krief, in this recent Ask Printful episode.

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Strengthening our eco-friendly product collection

We strengthened our eco-friendly product collection by increasing the minimum sustainable material content threshold from 30% to 70%.

Now our eco-friendly product collection consists of items made of at least 70% organic or recycled materials, or such material blends.

Girl in a high-waisted bikini, and Printful's eco-friendly product definition

Source: Photo by beatrizlina and text by Printful

 Currently, that includes organic cotton, recycled cotton, recycled polyester, recycled nylon, and organic cotton/recycled polyester fabric blends.

We also revised certification requirements for our eco-friendly product collection. As proof of the product’s organic composition, we now only accept either GOTS or OCS certificates, and for recycled composition, either GRS or RCS certificates.

Abbreviation Full certificate name What is it?
GOTS Global Organic Textile Standard GOTS is a leading textile processing standard for organic fibers that includes ecological and social criteria.
OCS Organic Content Standard OCS is a certification for non-food goods that confirms the organic material presence in the final product.
GRS Global Recycled Standard Both GRS and RCS set requirements for recycled content and verify the supply chain. The GRS includes additional criteria for social and environmental processing requirements and chemical restrictions.
RCS Recycled Claim Standard

Source: Printful

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Enabling CO2 offsetting for customers

Reducing our impact on the environment has meant improving packaging, reducing fabric waste, and introducing sustainable fabrics. What else have we made strides with? Empowering our customers to make better shopping choices.

We recently partnered with Native to give our customers the option to offset all CO2 emissions associated with their orders through our standard shipping rate with CO2 offsetting. At the moment, this rate is available for live shipping rate users and personal orders placed from your Printful Dashboard.

Although it wasn’t the first time calculating our footprint, last year we improved data quality and dug deeper into our indirect emissions (things like business travel, employee commutes, waste management, shipping, etc.). 

We’ve also made the decision to be transparent about our numbers. More transparency empowers our customers to make better-informed decisions.

We found that, on average, one Printful product emits 27.99 lb. (12.67 kg) of CO2. This number may fluctuate from year to year based on the previous year’s data. This happens because of new products, different shipping patterns, consumer habits, and other variables.

Footprint reduction icon

Source: Printful

Continuing to reduce fabric waste

We continued improving our all-over-print product layouts, resulting in a fabric waste decrease of 2.5 percentage points compared to 2021.

At Printful, we make our all-over-print products from scratch, printing product parts on rolls of fabric, cutting them out, and then sewing them together. Gaps between product cutouts result in fabric scraps that we are successfully reducing year after year.

We were also able to recycle or upcycle 787,524 lb. (357,215 kg) of damaged products and unclaimed product returns. But not everything goes straight to the recycling bin—whenever possible, we donate products that are in good condition. This year, most product donations were given to Ukrainian refugees.

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Partnering with Sedex

While we’re working to improve our internal processes, we acknowledge that our impact also goes beyond Printful walls. That’s why we’re working to map our supply chain, improve our sourcing processes, and gather key ethical data from our suppliers.

To get there, we’ve partnered with Sedex, one of the world’s leading ethical trade service providers. Their platform provides practical tools and enables members to improve working conditions in global supply chains.

Currently, we’re in the process of onboarding our suppliers and making sure they’re registered on the Sedex platform.

Sedex member badge

Source: Sedex

We’re not stopping there

Printful’s vision is to make on-demand manufacturing the norm for a planet with finite resources and people with infinite ideas. It’s an ambitious goal, so we’re taking it one step at a time, and look forward to implementing more sustainable initiatives in the future. We appreciate you being along for the ride.

 

author

By Alise Zindiga on Jan 26, 2023

Alise Zindiga

CSR Project Manager

Alise is a CSR Project Manager at Printful with a fondness for sustainability and intentional living. Her background in environmental business management helps to turn the passion into practice.

Alise is a CSR Project Manager at Printful with a fondness for sustainability and intentional living. Her background in environmental business management helps to turn the passion into practice.