Focus on Eco Clothing

a store and printed T shirts. What counts is the quality and the manufacturing method underlying those products. Driven by ever stronger demand, garment decorators have to respond accordingly and adapt to change. Garment decorators have to raise retailer and shopper awareness about their productsʼ compliance with certain standards and demonstrate transparency in their manufacturing processes.” You may have concerns over the manufacturing quality of eco garments, but as Clare explains, clothing made by environmentally friendly means often turns out to be more robust and therefore provides greater longevity, factors which means customers will be willing to spend that little bit extra. And as Jada adds, there is no need to be concerned about the final print quality either: “The print surface is just as good to use as other fibres, so printers neednʼt worry about quality control. Responsible clothing can still be affordable and the stigma that all things good for you cost so much more must end now.”

What, what, what?

So what aspects should you consider if looking to become a more sustainable garment decorator?

The number one consensus shared by the experts is that you should be aware of your supplierʼs ethical and environmental policies, including industry-wide standards and certifications. These include; Oeko-Tex, OCS, GOTS, REACH, GRS, WRAP, SEDEX, BSCI, Bluesign and Fairtrade to name but a few. “These policies and standards will hold key information about your suppliersʼ respective approaches to garment manufacture,” explains Clare.

Other suggestions include changing the way that you run your own print shop. Jada explains: “There is so much that garment decorators can do to swap out traditional consumables for eco- friendly alternatives. Low impact inks and emulsions and going chemical free would be the first step. Conserving energy during the production process and recycling all materials used such as dye sublimation paper would make a huge impact long-term. You can use 100% water-based or vegetable oil-based inks which still deliver great print quality. In the future you can look into using renewable energy, minimising water usage and reducing waste overall. Using carbon neutral paper and delivery methods are just a few ideas to practice being more sustainable.”

Larissa advises: “To become eco-friendlier in operation you should perhaps consider using recycled boxes, try to reduce the amount of polybags and plastic waste, recycle where possible, buy ethically sourced and sustainable products and use print consumables that have less chemicals such as water- based screen printing inks.” Once all of this is done Andreas suggests seeking out information on options for certification at regular intervals and if these match the production methods and production proper you should obtain the necessary certifications for your business. To conclude, Kirsty suggests that just as customers are asking decorators questions about sustainability, decorators should be encouraged to ask the same questions in return to the brands to not let sustainability standards slide.

As consumer awareness

grows, the demand for eco-friendly clothing is growing much bigger. The future of the printwear industry will be much greener.

– Jada Simone Li, brand marketing and business development at Continental Clothing Co.

The Erawan Organic Long Sleeve T-Shirt (EA021) from Écologie by AWDis

Top tips D

ave Roper, managing director of Screen Print World, provides some top pointers for any garment decorator looking to become a little more environmentally-conscious. ● Use less harsh solutions when reclaiming your screens. ● Ensure you only use drain safe solutions. ● Invest into a dip tank, this means you can control waste ● Use water-based inks over plastisol, as you can use water to clean up the screens.

● If you use plastisol, use low cure plastisols as they require less energy to final cure.

● If youʼre doing a small run use a manual press, as less energy is being used than an auto.

● Check for Oeko-Tex class standards, or other ʻgreenʼ certifications on your consumables.

● Be more aware of the energy used to produce the garment: turn dryers down or use them at the specified level, turn off the following if not being used dryers, drying cabinets, exposure units and flash cure.

● Changing from aerosol pallet spray to a water-based pallet glue will be more printer friendly and eco-friendly.

● Choose an electric dryer that can be powered by renewable and sustainable energy.

● Look to fit solar panels and use a grey water tank for screen reclaiming.

● Reuse all cardboard boxes and packaging. July 2019 | 29 |

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