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The Eco Trend: Gifts You Can Feel Good About

15 Feb

{reprinted from PCNA newsletter 01/18/2022}

Sustainability is becoming a higher priority for people everywhere, and demand for eco-friendly products is on the rise. Consumers are more mindful of their purchases, and businesses are taking strides to be more environmentally conscious.

The “green” movement is making big waves in the promo industry, so we sat down with AJ Dickson, PCNA Senior Category Director, to learn more about one of the biggest trends of 2022.

Q: It seems like in the past five or so years, we’ve seen a huge increase in eco-friendly promotional products. Why do you think that is?A: “Whether you’re talking about consumers or corporations, there’s been a seismic shift toward sustainability. In retail, shoppers are seeking out eco-friendly products. And at the corporate level, sustainability initiatives are driving decisions. Everyone is waking up and realizing the importance of preserving and protecting our environment, and the promo industry is doing its part by offering a bigger selection of eco-friendly products.”

Q: More and more retail brands are taking sustainability seriously. What’s the driving force behind this change?A: “I think there are a few factors. For starters, people want to buy from brands whose values are aligned with their own, and the brands have taken notice. Also, brands have a responsibility to the environment, and they’re stepping up in big ways. Whether it’s tentree planting 10 trees for every item sold, Karst making tree-free paper from 100% recycled stone or Welly donating more than one percent of sales to provide clean drinking water, it’s wonderful to see companies doing their part. These are the kinds of brands we like to partner with, and we’re always looking for others that share our commitment to the environment.”

Q: Why do distributors who are focused on sustainability look to PCNA?A: “Our commitment to making a difference goes far beyond offering the industry’s biggest eco-friendly collection and partnering with likeminded retail brands. Yes, we want to make it easy to create promo gifts everyone can feel good about, but we’re also taking big steps toward sustainability as a company. Three of our facilities locations have earned Chain-Of-Custody certification from the Forest Stewardship Council®, a global, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of responsible forest management worldwide. Chain-Of-Custody certification traces the path of FSC®-certified products from forests through the supply chain, ensuring that the FSC®-certified products you buy from us come from responsibly managed forests. It shows that we’re not just here to sell products, but we genuinely want to do our part for the planet as well.”

Q: Recycled materials are becoming more commonly available in manufacturing. Which categories are benefitting the most?A: “It’s nearly impossible to pick just one. Almost every new apparel item we’re launching this year is made with recycled materials. We’ve also added lots of new bags made from recycled cotton and drinkware made from recycled plastic. Aside from recycled materials, we have food storage made from wheat straw and tech accessories made with natural bamboo fiber. Safe to say that all categories are moving in the right direction, and we’ll keep pushing them that way.”

Better For The Planet

Make a difference with eco-friendly and sustainable gifts. Click here to see our entire collection.

If you are interested in this product to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Promo Companies Respond to Recycling Crisis

28 Jan

Visstun is the latest supplier to offer products made with recycled content.
{from ASI Christopher Ruvo}

The United States is experiencing a recycling crisis. The trouble stems, in significant part, from China’s decision in 2018 to restrict imports of certain recyclables, including most used plastics and mixed paper, such as office paper and junk mail.

That was a big problem for the U.S., which had been shipping massive quantities of such recyclables to China. As a result, some communities in the U.S. and other nations, including Canada, “are running out of room to store the mounting stockpiles [of recyclables] and have stopped collecting plastic, paper products or glass,” Bloomberg News reported. “Some places in the U.S., Australia and Canada are sending material to landfills or burning it.”

Such practices present environmental hazards. Still, some private companies are stepping up to mitigate the impact. Last year, for example, Mars, PepsiCo and Unilever vowed to reduce their use of new plastic in favor of used plastic.

Forward-thinking promotional products companies are getting in on the sustainability initiatives, too. The latest example comes from Visstun (asi/49716).


On Friday, the Las Vegas, NV-based supplier announced that all of its paper cups, containers and paper lids contain Sustana’s EnviroLife post-consumer recycled fiber. It had been Visstun’s goal for 2019 to make all the products using 30% recycled fiber. But Visstun exceeded that goal: As of Dec. 17, 2019, the products contained 35% post-consumer recycled content.

This eco-friendly upgrade applies to all paper cup, container, and lid products, including Visstun’s paper hot, cold and microwave cups and containers, as well as its Vx2 double wall cups and P2 paper lids.

“We felt it was too important a step to only go halfway. So, at no additional cost to our customers, we jumped in with both feet, upgrading all our material. The response has been awesome,” said Joe Davis, Visstun’s national sales director. “With this first major step towards more sustainable products behind us, we’re continuing our research and testing of advanced eco-friendly materials. We’re looking for that perfect sustainable cup.”

The U.S.’s recycling challenges were an important factor in motivating Visstun to get greener. “Right now, the United States has a recycling crisis,” said James Lake, Visstun’s cup production manager. “Consumers are recycling paperboard products more than ever, but there’s nowhere for it to go. Visstun decided that providing a use for post-consumer recycled fiber in our cups and containers is an important, socially responsible first step.”

The Nevada firm might be onto something. Leading industry executives have said that sustainability will be a top trend in the promotional products industry in 2020 and beyond. That was backed up by trend-spotting at the ASI Show Orlando. The boots-on-the-ground research revealed that suppliers are placing a strong emphasis on eco-friendlier options. For instance, several apparel companies, including Top 40 supplier SanMar (asi/84863), debuted T-shirts made from recycled materials. The new Re-Tee from SanMar’s District brand is 100% recycled, made from plastic bottles and cotton scraps. “It takes cotton scraps, combines them with recycled polyester, and creates a new yarn and a new T-shirt that doesn’t use water (or) new dyes. It’s one of the most environmentally friendly T-shirts that you can have, and it feels really great, soft and easy to wear,” said Jeremy Lott, SanMar president.

Other industry firms have been weaving a focus on recycling into their business models and products. Founded in 2014, Upcycle Goods (asi/92767) has become a market leader in using recycled materials in its promo products. The company has worked with major brands like Microsoft, Apple, HP, AT&T, GE, Home Depot, Boeing, Dr. Pepper, Google and more.

Meanwhile, Grossman Marketing Group (asi/215205), a $35 million distributorship based in Somerville, MA, last year launched SwagCycle. The new startup initiative focuses on helping businesses manage the lifecycle of their logoed merchandise in a responsible, ethical and affordable way, according to Ben Grossman, the distributorship’s co-president and founder of the firms’ Green Marketing and Sustainability Practice.

To enable organizations to address the sustainability challenges presented by obsolete merch, SwagCycle offers a three-step process: Assess the inventory of unwanted items; confirm brand guidelines to determine if excess items can live on with charitable partners or should be recycled; and match items with an appropriate charity or one of Grossman’s recycling partners.

While such efforts alone won’t solve America’s recycling challenges, the initiatives from Grossman, Visstun and others in promo aim to contribute toward a solution. Visstun intends to keep pursuing the creation of products that are more environmentally friendly.

“There are a lot of important pieces to the eco-friendly ‘green’ puzzle, and using renewable and recycled resources is just the beginning,” the company said in a statement. “Visstun has explored many different options and is working to get to a cup that is compostable or biodegradable and Made-in-the-USA. Stay tuned for future developments.” Learn more about Visstun’s commitment to green here.

Founded in 2007, Visstun launched what it says was the world’s first hi-definition convolute cups. The technology improved traditional cup imprinting methods by first printing high-quality images on flat sheets and then forming them into cups on custom-engineered machinery.

If you are interested in these products to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Printing and Sustainability

19 Nov

Got an email from FOREMOST GRAPHICS this morning, outlining the TWO SIDES! paper initiative. Worth taking a look if you have concerns about commercial printing and the environment.

Print and paper have been the preferred communication medium for more than 2,000 years. By gaining a better understanding of printing’s environmental impact today, we’re positioning print and paper to continue as the communication medium of choice.

The Two Sides initiative explodes the myths and sets out the facts about print media’s sustainability in a clear and concise manner. By helping people gain an understanding of why Print and Paper is a versatile and sustainable communications medium.

Two Sides is telling the sustainability story of print and paper. By tackling the relevant environmental and social issues head-on with factual, authoritative information that exposes the myths, explains our industry’s true sustainability and gives stakeholders a solid foundation for making well-informed decisions about the use of print and paper.

Check out how Two-Sides can help clear the air on Printing and the Environment:


Might also want to take a look at their fact sheet page,

If you are interested in learning more about what you can do to lower the impact of your promotional printing, email for information.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Recycling Symbols: A Review

15 Oct

This is a guest post by John Simonetta, owner of ProformaGreen, an eco-friendly promotional items consultancy. John’s blogs are designed to keep us up to date on the “greening” of his industry.

When Proforma Green goes to events we often get asked questions on what the different recycling symbols on plastic items stand for. I thought this might be a question some of our readers would like answered as well and so decided to re-post here information on the symbols first put together by

PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate)

Found in: Soft drink, water and beer bottles; mouthwash bottles; peanut butter containers; salad dressing and vegetable oil containers; ovenable food trays.

Recycling: Picked up through most curbside recycling programs.

Recycled into: Polar fleece, fiber, tote bags, furniture, carpet, paneling, straps, (occasionally) new containers

PET plastic is the most common for single-use bottled beverages, because it is inexpensive, lightweight and easy to recycle. It poses low risk of leaching breakdown products. Recycling rates remain relatively low (around 20%), though the material is in high demand by remanufacturers.

HDPE (high density polyethylene)

Found in: Milk jugs, juice bottles; bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles; shampoo bottles; some trash and shopping bags; motor oil bottles; butter and yogurt tubs; cereal box liners.

Recycling: Picked up through most curbside recycling programs, although some allow only those containers with necks.

Recycled into: Laundry detergent bottles, oil bottles, pens, recycling containers, floor tile, drainage pipe, lumber, benches, doghouses, picnic tables, fencing.

HDPE is a versatile plastic with many uses, especially for packaging. It carries low risk of leaching and is readily recyclable into many goods.

V (Vinyl) or PVC

Found in: Window cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, wire jacketing, medical equipment, siding, windows, piping.

Recycling: Rarely recycled; accepted by some plastic lumber makers.

Recycled into: Decks, paneling, mudflaps, roadway gutters, flooring, cables, speed bumps, mats.

PVC is tough and weathers well, so it is commonly used for piping, siding and similar applications. PVC contains chlorine, so its manufacture can release highly dangerous dioxins. If you must cook with PVC, don’t let the plastic touch food. Also never burn PVC, because it releases toxins.

LDPE (low density polyethylene)

Found in: Squeezable bottles; bread, frozen food, dry cleaning and shopping bags; tote bags; clothing; furniture; carpet.

Recycling: LDPE is not often recycled through curbside programs, but some communities will accept it. Plastic shopping bags can be returned to many stores for recycling.

Recycled into: Trash can liners and cans, compost bins, shipping envelopes, paneling, lumber, landscaping ties, floor tile.

LDPE is a flexible plastic with many applications. Historically it has not been accepted through most American curbside recycling programs, but more and more communities are starting to accept it. Continue reading

Greening Business

18 Jul

This is a guest post by John Simonetta, owner of ProformaGreen, an eco-friendly promotional items consultancy. John’s blogs are designed to keep us up to date on the “greening” of his industry.

The world often perceives marketing as a wasteful practice. However, it is still essential in every business.

The good news is that companies like ours, are manufacturing with greener, more resourceful printing processes and materials now more than ever. Mugs, pens, tote bags, the list continues to grow of items that are both eco-friendly and/or promote eco-friendly lifestyles.

My name is John Simonetta and I want to let businesses know that they really can go green. From packaging to uniforms to promotional items to printing needs, there are cost effective marketing solutions that allow businesses to lower their impact on the planet without sacrificing the quality of their brand.

In my posts I will highlight some of the new promotional and print solutions that are now available to businesses and organizations looking to Go Green with marketing collateral.

Photo Credit: spoons at Flickr Under Creative Commons License

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