article Image for A Christmas Message To Our Customers

A Christmas Message To Our Customers

As 2019 draws to a close, we’d like to take the opportunity to inform you about what we’ve been up to over the last year and our exciting plans for 2020. 

New Premises 

During the Christmas shut down we’ll be making the much-anticipated move to our new premises, Innovations House, located less than one kilometre from our current operational units. With over 58,000 Sq Ft in office and production space, we’ll be maintaining our existing staff level of 240 with plans to recruit further staff as our turn-over continues to increase.

The reception area in our new HQ!

The new space will help us to continue to meet customer demand with a variety of facilities designed to benefit production capabilities and staff wellbeing. Investments to the premises include a clean room for Digital Printing, a fully equipped Quality Control Department, R&D Laboratory, dedicated Print & Production areas for Bags, Drinkware, Notebooks, Paper Engineering, Laser Engraving and of course Screen and Pad Printing. Additionally, we have invested heavily in an advanced photographic and video studio, product showroom, and training and conference facilities. Our training facility has been designed to offer coaching to both internal and distributors’ staff in all matters technical and commercial relating to our industry. Further details will be available shortly.

Working towards a more sustainable future is now a core value for both The Pen Warehouse and Snap Products Ltd and a great deal of time has been spent on planning our new premises to ensure we minimise our CO₂ footprint. This will always be a work-in-progress as we learn to exploit the full potential of new materials, technologies and processes. We intend to keep everyone in our industry abreast of all developments as we believe we should all be a catalyst for change. Please join us each Wednesday for our ‘EcoSense’ blog series where we explain these developments along with other business and sustainability insights. Read the EcoSense blog here.

2019 saw the launch of EcoSense: a weekly blog focused on navigating sustainability in a practical way

Customer Service 

Strategies for optimising customer experience are constantly under review and we believe that combining the Customer Service teams of both Snap Products Ltd and The Pen Warehouse is a positive and natural step. Amalgamating the Customer Service teams will provide distributors with a single point of contact for both companies – an absolute necessity when dealing with the increasing number of linked orders we are receiving. The revised set up required additional roles, including Customer Success and Training Managers. We believe these new additions are vital to support our plans for growth as we approach 2020. You will be informed of all changes very shortly but there will be no change to order processing and you will be able to continue to contact us via sales@pens.co.uk or sales@snapproducts.co.uk.

Product Development

We’ve introduced a number of exciting new ranges to our existing product offering, including our lifestyle essentials range, Mood® Collection, and a number of eco-friendly products crafted from responsibly sourced, sustainable materials. We have expanded our collection of soft-feel pens to reflect the true capabilities of our innovative spot-colour printing process, with a number of different models to cater for all budgets and campaign styles. Lastly we have launched our new one-stop-shop website, print and digital catalogue trendz®., a collaboration between both companies as well as six guest suppliers, covering promotional products from writing instruments and headwear to general promotional items including an extensive range of drinkware.   

Mood® Collection: A lifestyle essentials brand designed with self-expression in mind

These are just some of the many exciting developments that have kept us busy in 2019, and we can’t wait to share the benefits they will bring during 2020. We look forward to our relationship continuing to grow, into the new year and beyond, and we wish you all a very enjoyable Christmas break and every success for 2020. Thank you for your continued support.

Yours sincerely,

The Directors

Neil, Mindy, Helen and James



blog Image for Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Policy Conference: Reducing Avoidable Plastic Waste Via Incentives, Targets & Policy Priorities

Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Policy Conference: Reducing Avoidable Plastic Waste Via Incentives, Targets & Policy Priorities

“We Made Plastic. We Depend On It. Now We’re Drowning In It”, states the title of a recent article published by the National Geographic (1) – a sentiment being echoed across the globe. The point is, what can we do about it? Are alternatives to plastic the only way forward, or can we find a new way to deal with the billions of tonnes already on our planet?

Here at Pen Warehouse, we agree that sustainable products and green trends are a great way forward in reducing both the amount of plastic being used and our product’s end of life effect on the environment. But what do we do with what we already have?

Plastic is everywhere within the promotional products sector, in our products and our packaging. In fact, 40% of plastic produced worldwide is being used for packaging purposes (2) and over 350 million tonnes of it was produced in 2018 alone! (3) Our director, Helen Dyl, and our Head of R&D, Dr Rebecca Townsend, recently took part in a one-day conference, looking at precisely this problem; How to reduce plastic waste across the board without limiting our product quality.

Many of the speakers present at the conference stressed the same key topics, “Circular Economy”, “Product Impact Assessments” and most importantly, “Plastic is Not the Enemy.” So, we looked into these concepts in more depth and how we could apply them to our own business!

“Plastic is not the enemy!” was the opinion expressed in the first talk of the day, delivered by Professor Rosalind Malcolm (Director of Environmental Regulatory Research Group at the University of Surrey). A world without plastics is almost unimaginable – they’re found everywhere, from our mobile phones to space rockets and from food packaging to essential medical supplies. In fact, many people have tried to live without plastic, all you have to do is search YouTube for their accounts and it’s safe to say, it was a struggle! So how do we combat this? Do we really want to give up plastics entirely?

Our answer to this question is an emphatic no! Plastic is an important part of our lives and, more specifically, it plays a vital role in the promotions industry with its versatility, abundance and cost effectiveness. In fact, the plastics industry employs 1.6 million people in Europe alone (3). What we really need to do is change our behaviour. This point was made categorically by Dutch speaker Arnoud Passenier, (Senior Program Manager Circular Economy, Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management). We need to stop thinking of plastic as a single-use commodity, thrown into the rubbish as soon as we’re done with it. Plastic is recyclable, our pens are recyclable and even the insides are recyclable when separated. So, why aren’t we doing this?

The biggest buzzwords of the day was “Circular Economy”, so we looked into this in more detail and the effect it would have on our society and business.

Circular Economy

A circular economy is an alternative to our current model (make, use, dispose). Instead of disposing of products at the end of their life cycle, we keep products and resources for as long as possible, extracting their maximum value at all stages of the supply chain and then recovering and regenerating these materials at the end of each service life. This approach in particular is seen as the way forward by many of the experts on the panel, including Dr Marcus Gover (Chief Executive Officer at WRAP), and is gaining increasing popularity worldwide as a means of tackling our plastic pollution problem among others. Look out for our upcoming blog post where we’ll be delving into this topic in more detail!

To learn more about Circular Economy, check out this interesting video by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, or visit their official website for more information.

To make such a drastic change to our behaviour and how we treat our plastics, the change needs to be taken up by everyone from the supplier to the end user. At The Pen Warehouse, we’ve been putting this into action by working with our suppliers to make sure they use the most eco-friendly packaging and transport methods while reducing the amount of plastic packaging needed, among many more initiatives. Read more about our packaging changes here.

Out of a number of valuable suggestions we took from this conference,  an immediately implementable action is “product impact assessments”, which prompts us to examine our products, their impact on the environment and what we can do to reduce this impact. In fact, many of our products have minimal end of life environmental impact, such as our Mood® Collection reusable water bottles.

As for pens, how about opting for one of our sustainable fountain pens? Nicknamed the Pen for Life, this refillable fountain pen is the only truly environmentally-friendly pen. And what makes it the perfect environmentally-friendly pen? Well, apart from requiring the odd top up with fresh ink, nothing else is used or disposed of. This is because each refillable fountain pen comes with a device that enables the user to draw ink from an ink bottle with minimum mess and fuss. Watch this space for a future article on the Pen for Life.

Our sustainable Pen for Life Fountain Pen. Click here to view.

In Summary

We were incredibly inspired by the discussions at the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum and we can’t wait to start putting all of the innovative ideas we learnt into practice. Attending forums such as this is a great way for businesses to see the long-term picture of sustainability and to learn effective methods of waste reduction that make a real difference.

Please see below for some upcoming events which we urge you and your colleagues to get involved with. Covering all aspects of sustainability, these forums provide a platform for education and discussion hosted by experts in the field of sustainability. Events such as these are guaranteed to get you thinking and motivate you to become part of the change, providing forward-thinking ideas which you can weave into your own business practices. 

Edie Sustainability Leaders Forum: 4&5/2/2020 – A multi-award-winning event uniting business leaders and sustainability decision-makers from the world’s most influential companies, along with climate experts, policymakers, NGOs and investors with a collective purpose: to transform business, for good.

Guildford Environmental Forum – Climate Emergency Talk: 15/1/2020 – A discussion on climate change emergency held by members of the GEF’s Climate Crises Group.

The Future of Waste Management and the Circular Economy Forum: 25/2/2020 – Practical guidance on how the local government and voluntary sector can work together in partnership to reduce the amount of waste and improve recycling across the UK.

References

  1. https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/2018/05/we-made-plastic-we-depend-it-now-were-drowning-it 
  2. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782 
  3. https://www.plasticseurope.org/application/files/9715/7129/9584/FINAL_web_version_Plastics_the_facts2019_14102019.pdf

To download this image displaying the process of Circular Economy Vs. Linear and Recycling Economy for use on your own social media channels, click here.








blog Image for The (Environmental) Cost of Christmas: Top Tips and Considerations for the Festive Season

The (Environmental) Cost of Christmas: Top Tips and Considerations for the Festive Season

Is there any better feeling than when it begins to look a lot like Christmas? The comforting sight of lights twinkling against the prickly pines of a fresh-cut tree. The smell of mince pies and mulled wine scenting the air with spice. The look on your loved one’s faces as they tear through sheets of wrapping paper while choruses of excited squeals ring out through the house.

It’s all part of the joy of Christmas. The giving, the togetherness and perhaps most importantly, the uninhibited indulgence we’re permitted (and even encouraged!) to enjoy over the festive season. It’s a time to eat, drink and be merry and it’s so easy to become wrapped up in the excitement. 

This year, however, try to remember that it’s not just your bank balance that feels the impact of Christmas. The environmental cost of Christmas is one that is undeniable but often overlooked, so let’s consider the main aspects as we look for ways to reduce our impact without losing any of the cheer.

Gifts 

We’re all guilty of faking a polite smile after receiving a gift we’re not too excited about. But did you know that we generate around £700m of unwanted Christmas presents in the UK alone, each year? 

That’s why it’s better to do your research and make sure you shop responsibly to get your friends and family something they’ll really like. Natural, ethically sourced cosmetics, reusable food containers, drinks bottles, coffee cups and organic cotton clothing are great starting points for sustainable gift ideas which last a long time and can be safely recycled with minimal impact to the environment. 

Our Considerations

  • Avoid disposable, single-use products or last-minute panic buys which will likely end up in landfill, and instead opt for a gift which can be reused for a substantial amount of time.
  • If you’re really worried about getting someone the right gift, why not take the stress out completely with a thoughtful donation in their name? Events such as the National Trust’s tree planting initiatives benefit British forestry and provides a sustainable gift option for those who want to avoid creating unnecessary waste at Christmas.
  • Opt for no-waste products. We love the Zero Waste Nerd blog for tips on reducing plastic and general waste. Check out this post on zero waste gift ideas for some inspiration around the festive season.
  • Choose ethically sourced products and always looks for badges of authentication. We recommend shopping for Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Energy Star and Palm Oil Free products. 

Christmas Lights 

Christmas lights are a huge culprit in contributing to the environmental cost of Christmas. An article published to Global News stated that: “In London, for example — a city known for its Christmas decor — 750,000 light bulbs are used, and the lights go up months before Christmas.” As well as draining massive amounts of energy, the increased use of lights also contributes to light pollution and causes disruption to certain ecosystems and nocturnal wildlife.     

Our Considerations

  • Swap standard incandescent lights for LED (which use up to 80% less energy!). This could save more than £11m and 29,000 tonnes of CO₂ over the 12 days of Christmas.
  • Use solar powered outdoor lights which generate energy from the sun during the day.
  • Make your own handmade decorations instead of store-bought Christmas lights. Try using biodegradable or recyclable materials such as paper, twine, brass, glass, wood or even foraged natural materials from outdoors like berries or holly leaves. 

Wrapping Paper, Christmas Cards and Gift Tags 

Is it really Christmas morning unless you find yourself (or Mum) wading through a sea of discarded wrapping paper, gift tags and brightly coloured bows with a black bin bag in hand?

Although the glisten of glittering gifts under the tree is a quintessentially Christmassy sight, the waste generated from wrapping paper, Sellotape and tags is substantial. The Commercial Waste website states that here in the UK, we use an estimated 83 sq km of wrapping paper each Christmas – that’s a huge 3.2 sq m per household. Combine that with the 1 billion Christmas cards we send every year which uses 200,000 trees, and the impact to the environment becomes very apparent. 

Our Considerations

  • Remember that foil, glitter and plastic can’t be recycled, so use plain wrapping paper which can be placed straight in the recycling.  
  • Make your own handmade wrapping paper and gift tags. Use eco blogs for inspiration on designs and materials, such as this post on Stylist and this one on Little Green Space.
  • FatFace have some great ideas about reusing your old gift bags to make new wrapping. Learn more and get inspired here.
  • Make your own Christmas cards from recycled materials. Eco BnB have an amazing blog post on how to make beautiful homemade Christmas cards using felt, found objects, natural materials, herbs and spices!
Check out this great video from Goodful for ways to cut back on waste while creating beautiful eco-friendly festive packaging

Christmas Trees

We cut down roughly 8 million trees in the UK alone every Christmas. What’s more, most of these trees are disposed of in unsustainable ways which cause further damage to the environment. Throwing your old tree out with your rubbish will likely lead to the tree ending up in landfill, where it will produce the harmful greenhouse gas, methane.

Our Considerations

  • Plant a tree in your back garden which you can replant and reuse next year. It saves on trees being cut down and means you have a pretty pine or fir tree in your garden all year round!  
  • Recycle your real tree responsibly. We recommend using Recycle Now’s facility locator to find your nearest recycling plant for disposing of old Christmas trees.
  • Buy high-quality artificial tree that can be reused for years to come and, once it does reach the end of its life, make sure you recycle rather than throwing it away with your general waste.

These are just a few ideas on how we can cut back on waste without cutting back on cheer by working together to reduce our environmental impact over Christmas. 

We work with the Salvation Army and Trussell Trust to donate food supplies and gifts over the festive season. Opportunities like this are a great way for businesses to give back and make a real difference in their communities. Check out The Trussell Trust to find out how you can help, or visit The Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal to set up a donation box of food and gifts for people in need at Christmas. You can even donate money to provide companionship for elderly people, or an hour of one-to-one support for homeless people currently living in residential centres.

Staff Tips! 

Let’s finish by asking our very own Pen Warehouse team members for their crafty tips and festive tricks to a greener Christmas! 

“It’s only small, but I don’t use gift tags as lot of them have a shiny or plastic coating on them. I tend to use the actual paper I have used to wrap the gift and cut out tags.”

“Last year, instead of buying shiny ribbons and those bows that are everywhere at Christmas (which are all a bit 1970s anyway) for my family’s presents, I put pine cones and bits of pine tree on the presents as decorations once wrapped.” 

“I always reuse bags given to me and I unwrap presents like a ninja so I can reuse the paper for next year!”

“Keep all the little plastic toys from Christmas crackers and instead of them being thrown away and adding to the world’s plastic problems – use them to make your own crackers the next year! Websites like Etsy are great for inspiration and ideas:  https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/563161128384369598/?lp=true

“Buy a real Christmas tree as there’s far less environmental impact (even compared with reusable plastic) and most councils will recycle them. Just make sure you check ahead with your local recycling facility.” 

“When it comes to wrapping paper, remember this top tip! If it scrunches up, it can be recycled.”

“Buy solar powered Christmas lights which come with a timer and set them to turn off at a certain time rather than leaving them on all night.”  

“If you’re shopping Amazon, buy more than one gift at a time and request that they be packed together to avoid waste from excessive or unnecessary packaging.”

“Don’t just fill your recycle bin and send the overflowing waste to landfill.  Utilise local recycling centres too.”

Further Reading 

Have a look at these interesting links to learn more about the environmental cost of the festive season and how you can have a more conscious Christmas: 

Business Leader: The Dark Environmental Impacts Of Our Christmas Season

Burges Salmon: The Environmental Impact Of Christmas: Chemicals In Toys & Plastics In The Environment

UK Christmas World: How Much Do Christmas Lights Cost To Run?

Wired: From Tinsel To Turkey, Here’s The Truth About How You Can Have A More Climate-Friendly Christmas

Gov UK: Don’t Increase Your Christmas Waste-Line

Commercial Waste: The True Cost Of Christmas