The ecological footprint of the promotional products industry has, historically, been excessive. Sadly, our sector has a reputation for being a heavy user of packaging and generating vast amounts of waste

There have been efforts made by some companies, especially throughout the last decade, to reduce the impact their business has environmentally. Thankfully, this has now become a huge focus for our entire sector. The tide has turned, and companies across the industry are making changes. From switching plastic bags for compostable alternatives to reducing paper usage, rarely a week goes by without us hearing of new initiatives. The race to reduce waste is hotting up. It’s time for us to all own the situation.

The world is waking up to the issues, and CSR demands from end user clients are becoming a key driver. Brands want to ensure they know exactly how their products have been manufactured, and which products are being used in the manufacturing and packaging process. This includes the need to reduce waste. To give an example, it could be as simple as garment embellishers and decorators looking at their supply chains of wholesalers and manufacturers to supply garments bulk packed in one individual, protective, biodegradable bag, as opposed to the all-too-common double-bagging scenarios. If we all took this one simple step it could begin to make a real difference.

The world’s demands are helping the industry to become greener. And I would argue there is now a need to educate on all sides – from the end user to the manufacturer. We need to ensure that the work we are doing today is focused on creating real industry change. There can be no half-hearted efforts or ‘flash in the pan’ initiatives. We have to make sure our actions are well thought through, proper investment is made and the whole industry – from manufacturers, through to suppliers, and those on the shop floor – are fully on-board with reducing packaging and improving sustainability.

Clive Allcott sits on the BPMA’s Board, and heads up the BPMA Branded Clothing Group. He is also UK and Ireland trade sales director at Screenworks.