AB Thinks  →  27th July 2022

Sustainable operations: Green and plastic-free

Plastic Free July has got us thinking about how far we’ve come as an agency on our sustainable operations journey.

As an internal communications agency, we’ve been involved in the creation of some resource-heavy publications since our inception in 1964. As we’ve evolved as a business and the world has become more mindful, we’ve embedded environmentally friendly practices into the production and distribution of materials. Whether we’re publishing a magazine or designing merchandise, our approach has constantly evolved.

Of course, one huge way we’ve built sustainability into our every offering is through our pivot to digital. Today, we advise a number of clients on their digital comms transformation, partnering with them to create a seamless shift to online platforms. But digital is not always the route of choice for our clients, so what do we advise when print is still the channel of choice?

Today, there are myriad vendors that use wholly recycled and recyclable materials. There are now alternative materials out there that we would never have believed possible a mere decade ago, and the future looks increasingly exciting, as innovation continues to disrupt the sustainable material market.

At AB, we currently work with a range of these innovative products to consistently deliver communications that make an impact with your workforce, not on the environment. Let’s take a closer look:

While a vast number of our clients have made the transition to digital, sometimes a hard copy is the correct choice for your comms.

When it comes to driving more sustainable print, we focus on the source and production process. Paper is a finite material, and many years of harmful deforestation has left some ecosystems on their knees. Ensuring any paper we use is sustainably sourced is of huge importance to our team and our clients.

Every printed product we produce uses materials certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Per its website, “FSC forest management certification confirms that the forest is being managed in a way that preserves biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers, while ensuring it sustains economic viability.”

As well as ensuring FSC certification, we also use part or fully recycled stock where possible. This keeps paper in use for longer, giving it a second or third lease of life.

Went it comes to mailing, paper or potato starch wraps are both sustainable options for sending out publications. We try to advise our clients to use paper wraps when possible – because while potato starch is compostable and biodegradable the ink used to print on the potato starch can harm the environment as the wrapper degrades.

Long-gone are the days of branded pens – today’s businesses have ample options for more sustainable (and more fun!) merch that are earth and people-positive. Where possible we source merchandise from UK-based suppliers that use recycled materials in their products. We also consciously question whether our clients really need to include merch products at all or if items can be re-used from previous campaigns.

To get an idea, here’s a merch package we offered up just last year:

  • The bottle: The UK’s most eco-friendly reusable bottle! Designed in London with industry experts, it’s the only bottle made from 20% recycled steel, reusable for 10 years and recyclable at end-of-life – a true circular economy gift!
  • The extra: Trees planted in your company’s name, with a shareable photo timeline of them being planted. This is also a great initiative to boost social media engagement, publicly demonstrating your commitment to the environment.
  • The packaging: Reusable and recyclable the gift bag explains the eco benefits of the bottle and tree planting initiative, along with the technical features of the bottle.

Our commitment to going beyond the pale to source and produce merchandise with sustainability factored in shows not only our clients, but our own workforce that environmentalism is one of our key priorities. Look out for more on our blog about how best to build sustainability into your organisational structure, coming soon.

If you’re looking to reduce your impact whilst getting your message across, talk to our operations team to find out how we can help.