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Blog / Style & trends / Year in Review: Sustainability and Responsibility at Printful in 2023

Style & trends

Year in Review: Sustainability and Responsibility at Printful in 2023

Year in Review: Sustainability and Responsibility at Printful in 2023
Alise Zindiga

By Alise Zindiga

5 min read

It’s no secret that overproduction is one of the biggest sustainability challenges the world faces today. At Printful, we take pride in being part of the solution by providing on-demand manufacturing as one of the tools to address the dead-stock-filled warehouses.

Printful only creates products once an order is placed and delivers over 85% of them within the region they’re fulfilled. That means overproduction is greatly reduced, and strategically-located fulfillment centers lead to lower CO₂ emissions when transporting Printful orders.

However, if you’ve been our customer for a while, you might already consider this information old news. If that’s the case, or you simply want to learn more about Printful’s latest Sustainability and Responsibility updates, this article is for you.

Measuring our carbon footprint

To assess our environmental impact, Printful adheres to the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, which is a step-by-step guide for companies to measure and manage their GHG emissions.

While we’re finalizing the data for 2023, the average carbon footprint for a Printful product in 2022 was 16.89 lbs (7.66 kg) of CO2, categorized into three scopes: 

  • Scope 1: in-house natural gas, propane, and fuel consumption 

  • Scope 2: in-house energy consumption 

  • Scope 3 (all indirect emissions)

About 96% of Printful’s emissions come from Scope 3 or indirect activities, which aligns with industries producing consumer staples. The remaining 4% stems from direct emissions (Scopes 1 and 2). Key impact areas include:

  • Purchased goods and services (50%) 

  • Use of sold products (28%) 

  • Downstream transportation and distribution (10%)

Currently, none of our competitors disclose their CO2 footprint data, making it hard to assess our performance against other players in the POD industry. Nevertheless, at Printful, we believe transparency empowers our customers to make informed decisions.

For customers seeking to offset CO2 emissions associated with their orders, we have our standard shipping rate with CO2 offsetting. This option is available to customers using live shipping rates and for personal orders placed through your Printful Dashboard.

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Completing the switch to improved packaging in North America

We’ve been using post-consumer-recycled (PCR) plastic to package customer orders for several years. However, in 2022, we embarked on a quest to increase the PCR plastic content and improve the design for all our apparel mailers in North America. 

Last year, we completed the transition to mailers made from 90%–100% post-consumer recycled plastic in all North American facilities. At the same time, our minimum PCR plastic content threshold has reached 70% worldwide.

Printful’s packaging is always white-label, but we’ve added a handy QR code with recycling information to improve the end customer’s experience. 

Check this article to learn more about PCR plastic and our research on other sustainable packaging materials. 

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Giving back to the community

When it comes to sponsorship activities, Printful extends its support beyond financial aid to engage with communities on a deeper level. Primarily, the causes we endorse align with our mission to help people follow their passion and turn ideas into brands and products. 

In our case, sharing knowledge is the most impactful way of giving back. We organize lectures, provide internship opportunities, and give expert advice to local higher education institutions, such as Riga Technical University, the Swedish School of Economics, the BA School of Business and Finance, and the Latvian Academy of Culture.

When hands-on support isn’t possible, we provide long-term fulfillment discounts for Printful products. By giving discounts, we empower our sponsorship partners to cut costs and gain extra income that they can reinvest in their projects. Moreover, stores like Diversity Shop, Atomic Hands, and Games for Love unite their followers and increase brand awareness.

Finally, our unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusivity motivates Printful teams worldwide to participate in Pride events, advocate for at-risk children and young people, support various educational campaigns, and more.

Explore our Sponsorship page to review our sponsorship policy and learn more about the projects we’ve supported in the past.

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Fulfilling more orders locally

Printful produces items only upon receiving an order, and historically, around 80% of our orders were delivered within the region they were fulfilled.

Thanks to improved product availability, in 2023, we successfully raised the percentage of locally fulfilled orders to over 85%.

This number proves our commitment to minimizing overproduction through on-demand manufacturing and highlights the effectiveness of our strategically positioned fulfillment centers. Moreover, locally fulfilled and delivered orders reduce shipping-related CO₂ emissions, which we take pride in.

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Improving our sourcing processes

Printful teams work tirelessly to improve internal processes, from optimizing fulfillment equipment and shipping routes to measuring our environmental footprint and giving back to local communities. But we recognize that our impact extends beyond Printful walls. To move toward supply chain transparency, in 2022, we decided to partner up with Sedex, one of the world’s leading ethical trade service providers.

Throughout 2023, we focused on onboarding our suppliers onto the Sedex platform, collecting crucial ethical data, and mapping our supply chain. Simultaneously, we developed and launched our Vendor Compliance Manual to set forth various business ethics, product safety, and social responsibility-related requirements and mandate suppliers to comply with all applicable laws prohibiting slavery and human trafficking. Additionally, the Vendor Compliance Manual also commits our suppliers to Printful’s Code of Conduct and sets forth our standards and expectations in key areas of corporate responsibility. Existing and new vendors are asked to acknowledge and sign this manual as a mandatory condition of working with Printful.

This experience again underscored the significance of building and nurturing strong supplier relationships. In the coming year, we’ll keep collecting supplier information and analyzing it to improve working conditions in global supply chains.

Making on-demand manufacturing the norm

As we reflect on the strides made in our sustainability practices, Printful remains dedicated to continuous improvement and responsible business practices. From the meticulous measurement of our carbon footprint to the transition to eco-friendly packaging and community support through sponsorships, each initiative reflects our commitment to creating positive change. 

Looking ahead, we aim to refine our sourcing processes further, strengthen ethical trade partnerships, and continue our journey toward making on-demand manufacturing the norm for a planet with finite resources and people with infinite ideas. 

Starting a clothing brand with print-on-demand has never been easier. Delve deeper into our efforts and initiatives and use the knowledge to strengthen your brand’s sustainability message.

Read next: What Is Sustainable Fashion and Can I Dress Cool While the Earth Is on Fire?


By Alise Zindiga on Jan 28, 2024

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.