In recent years, sustainability has come to drive discussions at every level of business in the promotional products industry. That traces all the way back to the consumer level.
A recent survey from Gartner on consumer sustainability implies that this is not a trend that has or will be slowed down by inflation.
The expectation for sustainable practices and products from a consumer standpoint isn’t going anywhere, and the necessity for it from an environmental perspective will only increase. PPAI is aware of that and continues to encourage and educate its members through resources like PPAI Product Responsibility Summit.
The Association wants to ensure those same members that PPAI and its staff are also taking their own steps to hold itself to the same standard by forming an internal environmental group.
“PPAI strives to provide leadership by example to advance sustainability efforts in the promotional products industry,” says PPAI’s public affairs manager, Maurice Norris. “We will engage in carbon monitoring activities and waste diversion techniques and seek other methods of reducing or offsetting our emissions and waste.”
The policy relates to PPAI events, staff travel, and office operations.
“We will improve as we learn, measure our progress and share the lessons we learned with the industry,” Norris says.
Input will be welcome and encouraged from all PPAI staff members, but the internal environmental group currently consists of Norris, Director of Member Engagement Anne Stone, Show Manager Khris Harris and Facility Specialist Tyler Denison.
PPAI Product Responsibility Summit, which took place last month in Long Beach, California, made sustainability a core subject and featured outside perspectives as well as industry leaders making clear that this topic is a “triple bottom line of people, planet and profit,” as Hit Promotional Products Business Sustainability Manager Natalie Sheffey said at the Summit.
How each company should take action in terms of sustainability will vary, but there are basic practices that any promo company – any company in general – should exercise, and PPAI hopes to be a common reference for leaders in our industry to look to.
“As part of a heightened focus on CSR, PPAI aims to be the industry’s leader on environmental responsibility,” say Norris, Stone and the group in its sustainability statement. “Our relevant efforts entail implementing the ‘learn/do/teach’ method for implementing a sustainability policy.”
These efforts will go beyond simple brainstorming meetings. At the behest of the group and PPAI’s leadership, the Association has gone through environmental assessments that will help it understand its strengths and weaknesses in this area.
This process will also require accountability, something the entire industry will need to practice in order to reach the necessary goals of sustainability.
“PPAI staff completed an initial assessment with the Green Business Bureau, and we found that while there are opportunities for improvement, we have strategies in place to reduce or offset our impact on the environment,” the group statement says. “As we continue to seek new methods of expanding our activities in this area, we will also publicize our results so the entire industry can benefit from our learning process.”