According to the World Economic Forum, the textile industry remains the third-largest supply chain sector in terms of carbon emissions. The industry is responsible for between 5% and 10% of emissions worldwide with some reports estimating it reaching up to 26% by mid-century.
Companies are increasingly analyzing their impact on climate change and how to decrease their carbon footprint. Switching to a sustainable uniform program is a great way to support corporate sustainability goals.
What is Sustainability in Uniforms?
Sustainable uniforms are progressively the result of supply and demand. Uniform manufacturers are making conscious decisions regarding materials and manufacturing to provide customers with more environmentally-friendly, sustainable, and attractive uniform solutions.
While sustainable uniform products can be relatively scarce, companies like Unitec Distribution Systems are dedicated to assisting organizations in discovering and acquiring the most suitable options that align with their sustainability goals.
How Are Uniform Manufacturers Making Uniforms More Sustainable?
There are many ways that uniform manufacturers make their apparel more sustainable. In the pursuit of carbon neutral and decreased or zero-waste goals, manufacturers are implementing sustainable strategies including:
Applying Eco-Friendly Production Methods
Some sustainable uniform manufacturers are able to reduce energy because they own and operate their manufacturing plants and distribution centers. They also invest in more efficient machinery and can therefore cut down on staggering waste and overproduction, both of which are contributing factors to climate change.
Using Recycled, Natural or Renewable Materials
Whereas the creation of synthetic materials from low-cost fossil fuels such as petroleum-based polyester were previously a boon to the uniform apparel sector, sustainable uniform manufacturers are now responsibly sourcing long-lasting materials that are easier on the planet. Whether it’s recycled plastic bottles, hemp fibers, organically-grown cotton or biobased polyester, sustainable apparel is more accessible than ever before.
Joining Coalitions, Participating in Programs and Benchmarking Their Progress
Uniform manufacturers are becoming more sustainable and meeting the increased demand for sustainable apparel by:
- Following the Higg Index, which allows for tracking, measuring and sharing progress, and further improving efforts that defend the planet
- Becoming members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition
- Participating in recycling programs
- Earning a Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production certification
- Joining the NAUMD Uniform Sustainability Collaborative
Ultimately, sustainable apparel progress depends on disrupting the centuries-old supply chain around the world. The more customers demand sustainable apparel, such as uniforms, the more manufacturers are incentivized to make changes to their practices.
4 Easy Ways to Make Your Uniform Program More Sustainable
If your company requires employees to wear uniforms, you have the power to choose more sustainable apparel for your workforce. Here are some easy ways you can make your uniform program more sustainable:
Know How Your Clothes Are Made.
Read more about the uniform manufacturers and their practices to fight climate change. Also, pay attention to the materials they use and how they label their sustainable apparel.
For example, alphabroder|Prime includes descriptions about how their manufacturers’ products are made. They share information such as what materials are used, how to find sustainable uniforms in their catalog, as well as, a glossary of terms to help you understand what to look for when deciding which are the best sustainable uniforms for your company.
Choose a Durable Uniform.
Durable uniforms are sustainable because they are long-lasting and don’t need to be replaced frequently. This cuts down on consumption and reduces overall waste. In addition to its sustainability, durable uniforms are also dependable.
Try to choose easy-care fabrics that are machine washable and can withstand everyday wear and tear from your employees.
Get Help From a Managed Uniform Provider.
Sustainable uniform options are being added to the market each year, so let a managed uniform provider like Unitec Distribution Systems help you find the right sustainable apparel for your workforce.
Unitec’s team of uniform apparel experts can quickly identify workwear that’s not only good for your employees but also the environment.
Participate in a Reissuance Program.
This environmentally-friendly uniform program option assures that functional uniforms are kept in service after an employee leaves your company or no longer needs specific uniform items.
Reissuance programs clean, repair, and reissue usable uniforms and other uniform gear per client specification. Unitec Distribution Systems may re-issue your custom uniform apparel for emergency or routine use, a less expensive option than issuance of a complement of new uniforms.
Uniform Brands with Sustainable Practices
Unitec Distribution Systems recognizes the challenge of finding sustainable uniform products, as they are not widely available in the market. We diligently review our list of suppliers and their sustainability practices to ensure that we can offer our clients a selection of apparel that aligns with their increasing preference for sustainability. While the availability of sustainable options may be limited, we strive to carry a full range of popular uniform brands that have implemented various sustainability initiatives.
If sustainability is important to your organization, we encourage you to get in touch with our team. We understand that each industry and employee requirement is unique, and our uniform experts will be happy to discuss the options available specifically tailored to your uniform needs. Together, we can navigate the challenges of sourcing sustainable uniform products.
Make the Switch to Sustainable Uniforms
Once you roll out the new sustainable apparel in your organization, make sure to educate your employees about their new look. It will make them feel good about what they wear to work and it will help improve employee uniform compliance.
Still not sure if a managed uniform program is right for you?
Uniform Program Evaluation Tool
Use this free online evaluation to see how your program is performing and find opportunities for improvement.
See it in Action
We can customize a demo of our Proximity System™ for your team to see how it works and better understand how Unitec can save you time, money, and headaches.