Branded merchandise that doesn’t cost the earth

Cost effective Merchandise

Branded merchandise that doesn’t cost the earth

Cost effective Merchandise

In my last guest blog for Green Umbrella Marketing, we looked at my predictions for 2022. This blog will look deeper into the increase in demand (and availability) of great, eco-friendly branded merchandise.

When I set up Chilli Promotional Products in 2008, eco-friendly merchandise was broadly limited to recycled paper for Sticky Notes and desk pads. It wasn’t a big thing in the merchandise industry.
It wasn’t helpful as, in my opinion, the recycled paper quality was inferior, and the costs were a lot higher! It just didn’t add up, so demand was reasonably low.

There’s been a massive increase in demand

Fast forward to 2022, and wow, what a difference! We’ve experienced a massive increase in demand for cotton bags as an eco alternative to plastic – this was supercharged by the introduction of the so-called “bag tax” in October 2015. However, awareness has now been raised about how much water cotton production uses. So many eco-savvy buyers are currently looking for an alternative again and are moving towards bags made from recycled cotton and recycled drinks bottles, for example, and Jute which uses much less water and is a more sustainable product.

There are now eco alternatives to many popular products – USB memory sticks made from biodegradable corn starch, bamboo, cork and cardboard. Pens are made from recycled tin cans, bottles, plastic, bamboo, corn starch, etc. Coasters and mouse mats made from recycled tyres. Travel cups are made partly from sugar cane or from 100% recycled PP. Notebooks where the pages can be wiped clean and reused… There are so many fantastic products on the market now!

UK manufacturers of promotional merchandise are also striving to be eco-conscious wherever possible. One of the main factories we use has a zero to landfill policy. Due to the wide range of products they manufacture, they are able to use their waste from the production of some items in the production of other products such as mouse mats, coasters and travel mugs.

Brexit and Covid

Brexit and the impact of Covid have really helped UK manufacturing to become even more popular as it’s now able to be more competitive with many items from a cost point of view, but it’s also invariably faster and more flexible than overseas production.

When considering eco-friendly merchandise, we need to be aware of and avoid Greenwashing – where products are given an eco-spin that maybe hides the fact they are not as eco as they may appear. I am attending a course run by the British Promotional Merchandise Association later this month, which covers this area. I am looking forward to learning more about this as it’s something that we still see too much of.

One of our suppliers gives all products it markets as eco a “green score”- this gives a score to the product in various areas, including the material it’s made from, packaging, if it’s recyclable, where it’s made, the supply chain, and any certifications (social and environmental). This is a great way to weigh up different products to help make an informed decision. We can share the green score certificate with you for any of the products that have been scored.

Important steps continue to be taken

As an industry, I feel some really important steps continue to be taken to move towards much more UK manufactured merchandise, and there’s been a definite and sustained move away from single-use. The ranges now available mean you no longer feel like you have to compromise on choosing eco-friendly branded merchandise.

If you’re like to investigate eco-friendly merchandise for your business, get in touch with your promotional merchandise specialist, or let us know – we’d love to help!

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