The ESG roadmap at XD Connects incorporates all entities in our holding. A key link in this chain is our decorating facility in Romania – Printmasters. Attached to our warehouse is a massive operation involving machinery, materials like ink and packaging, and many (many) colleagues.
Naturally, Printmasters has impact areas of focus different to office environments like we do at HQ. Things like the impact of printing techniques on workers and environment, or best-practice occupational health and safety are much more relevant.
Printmasters is an integral part of the XD Connects ESG roadmap. On this page we will cover topics like decorating techniques and their impact on people and planet; managing resources use (energy, water, waste); and how we make sure we always meet the best standards of quality and safety.
Multiple ESG initiatives are taken at Printmasters to contribute to the ESG roadmap. Here are some highlights:
Catch a glimpse of life at Printmasters in our company video!
Installation of solar panels
Solar panels have been installed on the roof of the facility, totalling 1,072 solar panels with a maximum capacity of 419 kWh. This renewable energy already covers the electricity needed for the decorating machines! In future 30% of energy needs will be met this way.
Reducing water usage
In 2022, water consumption at Printmasters was 45% that of the year before. How? An example from a traditionally water-intensive technique: we recycle used print screens instead of washing for reuse.
Responsible purchasing of inks
Considering safety of workers, end-users, and the environment, all inks meet the strict requirements of the OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100, GRS, and – of course – the REACH SVHC.
Printmasters is certified according to the following ISO Standards:
- ISO 14001: environment
- ISO 9001: quality
- ISO 45001: OHS
To reduce waste classified by the EU as ‘dangerous goods’, reusable wipes are used to clean items prior to decorating. Furthermore, the pad printing machines are outfitted with an ‘eco-cup’ to reduce dangerous goods waste and decrease employee exposure to chemicals.
The impact of decorating
Although the impact of decorating an item relative to the impact of producing an item is low, it still contributes to making a responsible choice. We consider the below key impacts when it comes to decorating our items. Printmasters monitor progress on key performance indicators for all of the below areas. Their ISO audits (see above) also cover most of these areas. This is how we stay on top of our impact at all levels of our organisation.
Scroll down to the next section for the impact per technique!
Energy used to run the facility (heating, cooling, lighting, etc.) and to power the machinery contribute to our / a product’s CO2 footprint. This footprint is included in our annual emissions report! Find it in our Library. Read the mention of our solar panels project above which contributes to lowering our CO2 footprint!
Some printing techniques require water to clean or wash items or used machinery.
Most (if not all) inks include chemicals. Chemicals can be harmful to the environment if they are not disposed of properly. Moreover, applying printing techniques that use a lot of chemicals may be harmful to human health. Ensuring proper personal protective equipment is available and worn at all times by staff is key!
At Printmasters waste is separated and treated accordingly; where possible waste is recycled. Another important aspect is separating waste by ‘regular’ and waste that is classified as a ‘dangerous good’. As part of their ISO 14001 certification, Printmasters has annual reduction targets for this type of waste.
Occupational health and safety is monitored through ISO 45001 certification. To be extra vigilant and maintain best practice, Printmasters is also audited according to Sedex SMETA framework once a year. Already mentioned are the chemicals to which workers may be exposed, but monitoring noise levels and air quality (dust or particles from inks) is also important.
Impact by technique
Below the decorating techniques offered by Printmasters are listed alongside their relative contribution to key impact areas. This judgement is based on input from various ISO assessments, records, and certifications. For more detailed descriptions of the techniques and how they can best be applied to your products of choice, visit the Decorations section of our main website.
* Includes waste categorized as dangerous goods according to Directive 2008/98/EC.
** VOCs released.
*** Based on the use and intensity of chemicals to apply the technique.
Decorating certified products
XD Connects is licenced to sell GRS, RCS, OCS, FSC, and OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 certified products. In order for these products to remain compliant to their respective certifications after decoration, Printmasters is licenced and certified according to these standards as well. Decorating your certified items with Printmasters guarantees the values of each certification remain and the end users receive fully certified product. After all, what is an OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 claim on a t-shirt worth if it is printed using harmful chemicals?
The Global Recycle Standard has requirements regarding chemicals used in production of a GRS-certified product. This also applies to decoration of an item. We offer only the approved techniques for our GRS-certified items. Furthermore, GRS has a minimum labour standard which has to be met by the facility.
RCS- & OCS-certified products
The Recycled Claim Standard and Organic Content Standard relate to recycled and organic material, respectively. These standards do not have chemical specifications nor do they include minimum labour requirements. They can be widely applied to our products and decorating techniques.
Forest Stewardship Council®
Printmasters is FSC®-certified meaning it can decorate FSC items and use FSC-certified packaging material, like for MyBOXD. FSC also applies labour requirements to certified organisations.
OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100
Our OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 products are certified undecorated AND when decorated by Printmasters. The printing techniques have been tested by the licenced laboratory to be compliant with the standard. Embroidery is also compliant.
What about packaging?
Packaging is very present in the work flow at Printmasters. Goods are received from our suppliers in their product packaging, and bulk packaged for protection. After decorating, products are put back in their packaging. For shipment, bulk packaging comes into play again. You’re probably asking yourself: what material is our packaging made of, is anything re-used or recycled, and how do we handle waste?
Designing product packaging
Product packaging is designed by the Product Development team at XD Connects. Plastic is removed as much as possible and the design aims to avoid as much excess packaging as possible. In fact, together with our Innovation team at Printmasters a guideline has been created for suppliers to this end. Our product packaging is more often than not FSC-certified. Our suppliers pack items in their individual packaging.
From our supplier to Printmasters
Our suppliers package items (in their packaging) protect them during transportation to Printmasters in Romania. The choice of packaging is with our supplier for this leg. When shipments arrive at Printmasters, items are left in their packaging until they need to be decorated.
Packaged to the customer
No additional packing material is added by Printmasters. After decoration, items are replaced in their packaging. An order to a customer is packaged in FSC-certified boxes and sealed with FSC-certified, plastic-free tape. Boxes used to ship from the supplier to Printmasters are re-used to send decorated items to customers.
End-user guidance on packaging
Item packaging contains information on the material of the packaging and disposal instructions through the Triman symbols to help the end user dispose of packaging as responsibly as possible.
Our MyBOXD offering comes with a packaging story of its own. All sleeves and the box itself are FSC-certified. For void filling, two choices, both taking into consideration environmental impact, are offered: FSC-certified recycled paper or biodegradable chips. Read more details here!
Safety as a top priority
The nature of decorating – use of machinery, use of inks with chemicals, warehouse environment – makes occupational health and safety (OHS) a primary concern when it comes to ESG at Printmasters. Making sure that staff can do their jobs safely is done through a combination of training, monitoring, and external auditing.
All new staff at Printmasters receives extensive safety training. To make sure that all safety measures meet the highest recommended standards, Printmasters is audited annually according to ISO 45001 and Sedex SMETA frameworks. A SMETA audit also considers labour standards, environmental topics, and business ethics.
Want more details about Printmasters’ latest SMETA audit report? Read it here!
The Printmasters team
It takes a large workforce to deliver quality decorations on all our items! At Printmasters there are around 500 employees working at any given time. As for demographics, approximately 76% of staff are women. There is a relatively even split between age brackets in the range of 21 to 55 years, but the largest group (29%) are employees between 46-55 years of age (Dec. 2023).
Printmasters is covered under a collective labour agreement ensuring local minimum standards are always met and employees are represented. At Printmasters we make a point to exceed the minimum standards in our offering to employees. Next to the CLA, at Printmasters an employee representation exists: 4 employees (50/50, male/female).
ESG progress at Printmasters is achieved through cooperative action by designated personnel. Environmental and health and safety (including emergency response) have designated responsible parties. They implement the necessary policies. Support on projects related to ESG topics is offered by all departments through an assigned Innovation team member. An example includes the testing and ensuring compliance of products used (inks, auxiliaries, equipment) to all our relevant certifications.
Team efforts and resources are invested in projects like monitoring, reporting and improving our carbon footprint; decreasing consumption of chemicals in general; reducing our VOC level; reducing levels of dangerous goods waste and waste in general; reducing water consumption; constantly improving working conditions; and doing all this with interested parties in mind.