Hit Promotional Products is a leading supplier of eco conscious promotional products

Hit Promotional Products provides a wide range of more eco friendly promotional products, from apparel, awards, calendars, blankets, and custom packaging. Yet, what makes Hit stand out in this industry is their commitment to sustainability. The brand offers green and ethically-sourced products.

Hit is committed to offering sustainable, ethically-sourced products and holding ourselves accountable to social responsibility.” – Hit Promotional Products

Eco friendly promotional products are designed to meet the needs of the environment and society

Eco friendly promotional products are items used to promote your business while also working to meet the needs of the environment and social systems.

The use of promotional items is an effective marketing strategy, 40% of consumers keeping promotional products for over a decade – that’s according to a 2020 Global Ad Impressions Study. Yet, these promotional items can be damaging to the environment and the communities within which they’re manufactured. This can undermine a business’s sustainability efforts.

It’s for this reason that Hit Promotional Products is working to transform this industry – which has a heavy environmental footprint – to one that works to meet the needs of our environment and society with every business decision.

Sustainable progression in the promotional business

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The goal for Hit Promotional Products is to remain diverse, relevant, and transparent, especially as they develop their sustainability program. Since the company is undergoing a period of rapid growth, it’s difficult for the business to nail down a numerical figure goal that showcases continuous improvement for the brand. Instead, the business is pushing to stay focused on big sustainability subjects such as emission reduction, waste diversion, social responsibility, and natural resource conservation.

2021, and leading into 2022, have been the inaugural years of Hit Promotional Product’s sustainability program. Yet, despite this, many green initiatives began well before then. Originally, sustainability initiatives for Hit focused on workplace safety and the following of environmental regulations. Examples of these initiatives include reducing HAP and VOC levels in the brand’s inks and solvents, and pre-filtering wastewater before returning it back to the grid.

Then, as the COVID-19 pandemic kicked off in 2020, other sustainability opportunities presented themselves, and Hit Promotional Products jumped on them! Below we’ve detailed the two main opportunities seized by Hit Promotional Products, to showcase how this brand has transformed the business to provide more eco friendly promotional items.

Opportunity #1: Adopting a circular economy with an effective waste management system

Hit Promotional Products has worked hard to take control of business waste using an effective waste management system. This system diverts hazardous and nonhazardous waste products to be used in waste-to-energy processes, or recycled to be reused as fuel.

For instance, the brand has partnered with a large manufacturing company, Nu Cycle, which turns manufacturing (pre-consumer) waste into fuel pellets. These pellets are then sold to other industries – such as the cement industry – to be used in place of coal.

In another example, Hit Promotional Products has partnered with a local contract company to divert broken, unusable ceramic products from landfill. They will instead be used to make concrete and in local construction projects. This will reduce waste by hundreds of tons per year!

And on top of all this, Hit Promotional Products supports a circular economy by ensuring a good majority of paper, cardboard, and electronics are recycled.

Hence, we’re looking at a brand that takes waste reduction very seriously. Hit are always searching for new ways to divert manufacturing waste.

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Opportunity #2: Pushing supply chain sustainability through transparency

Hit Promotional Products are pushing for more transparency throughout their supply chain. This means holding suppliers responsible for the materials they’re using and the waste they’re producing throughout the manufacturing process.

The company’s VP of compliance is building his team both domestically and internationally so Hit Promotional Products can assist their suppliers in the process to become more responsible and sustainable.

In 2021, the brand hired Business Sustainability Manager, Natalie Sheffey, to manage all current programs, as well as launching new ones. Sheffey is also in the process of writing an annual sustainability report that will be published on Hit Promotional Product’s webpage, to be used by the company’s sales and marketing teams, which will display the brand’s accomplishments.

Green Business Bureau certification provides vetted and applicable green initiatives

In the beginning, Hit Promotional Products had a VP of Health and Safety who ran both a safety program and looked for sustainability initiatives that would be applicable and proactive for Hit.

The Health and Safety VP used the guidance of the Green Business Bureau’s initiatives, which gave a good starting point for the program. The GBB program proved especially useful with the limitation of time and a means of vetting the effectiveness of each initiative.

Getting the GBB certification helped Hit show they were actively pursuing ways to reduce their impact without a huge upfront financial investment.

Educating an industry on sustainability to remove corporate greenwash

As a family-owned private business, Hit Promotional Products do not have the requirements from stakeholders that a public company would have. Their initial sustainability commitments grew organically from pursuing employee safety and making a difference in the industry. The brand is working to show its customers and sales teams what sustainability initiatives mean for them and to train them on how to communicate these initiatives transparently without greenwashing.

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Hit’s goal is to do everything soundly from the beginning, to avoid greenwashing and ignorance around sustainability – issues that seem commonplace in this industry and other connected industries.

Rising to the challenge: The importance of stakeholder communication for sustainable design

Hit has experienced challenges at every step of their sustainability journey so far. These challenges were expected as the brand was starting their sustainability program from scratch. The team had to ask: Where do we start? What focuses should we have?

However, the most significant challenges revolved around consumer, customer, client, and employee education. While sustainability is a day-to-day concern for the Business Sustainability Manager, Natalie Sheffey, there are many people out there that still don’t know what it means to be a sustainable business and how sustainability affects them.

For instance, recycling cans are labeled with images and verbiage in the two main languages spoken on Hit’s sites, but the brand still finds people aren’t paying attention to this information, or taking it as a suggestion rather than a requirement. That is, communicating the connection between the stakeholder and the benefits a sustainability program offers a company and the future is proving difficult.

Another huge challenge Hit has faced has been fighting corporate greenwash in the industry. It’s been hard for Hit to keep their sales and marketing team from falling into the trap of using greenwash language. With their sustainability program, Hit is trying to do and say everything correctly – or at least up to the accepted knowledge by sustainability professionals – from the beginning, so that they don’t have to backtrack on anything later.

Hit Promotional Product’s green team orchestrates a smooth sustainable transition

As the Business Sustainability Manager for Hit, Natalie Sheffey monitors and manages all active initiatives. She works with many departments across the company as each sustainability initiative fits into different company aspects.

On-site, Natalie manages the recycling program and works with the production and environmental teams to keep the program running smoothly and efficiently. Behind the scenes, Natalie is also working with marketing and sales to answer customer questions, and to produce content that she pushes via social media or events. This includes writing the annual sustainability report.

Natalie is also engaged with purchasing, looking for more sustainable options for packaging, waste management, and materials. As the team grows the sustainability program, this list of responsibilities also grows. With the development of this list, Natalie is able to find more and more allies within the company who are welcoming sustainability into their jobs.

Overcoming ignorance with education: How to develop more eco friendly promotional products

Below is Hit Promotional Product’s owner and CEO’s statement taken from the company’s first sustainability report (published earlier in the year):

Sustainability, to me, means becoming more aware of how substances and processes in our world impact each other. We can no longer consider ignorance as an excuse and use it to pass off responsibility. Here at Hit, we’re working to understand what our business operations mean to all our stakeholders, and we are determined to cause the least negative impact possible. Our teams are always looking forward to not only meeting the needs of customers but also establishing ourselves as a sustainability leader for our industry. I see our sustainability program as a catalyst for the industry, but we will also lean on valuable partnerships as we work to grow into a more sustainable business. I am grateful for the team we have built, and I look forward to seeing how our program progresses and the positive social, environmental, and economic impacts we help achieve.” – CJ Schmidt

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