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GuidesApril 21, 2021

How to tell if your print on demand service is eco-friendly

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One of the greatest benefits of the print on demand model is the significant waste reduction it offers. In a typical retail setting, although forecasted, there are products that will be discarded either by the supplier or by the consumer. The print on demand model produces only what the consumer orders which keeps inventory low and waste at a minimum. Printing what the consumer wants makes their products incredibly targeted and more likely to be kept as a keepsake.

Did you know that it takes 2700 liters of water to produce 1 cotton t-shirt? Aside from the natural resources apparel utilizes, most apparel ends up in landfills. We’re talking 14 million tons of clothing waste per year with an average decomposition life of 200+ years. Although print on demand cannot control what consumers do with their pieces, companies are taking strides to reduce the overall environmental impact.


Brands are starting to recognize and take steps to reduce and reuse. Many popular clothing brands are offering either a clothing swap program or, are recycling their apparel to make new products rather than using more resources. In the world of print on demand, companies are purchasing more from their suppliers who are eco-sustainable as consumers are demanding this more and more. Additionally, print on demand companies are expanding their product offerings by introducing environmentally friendly products such as reusable drinkware. Reusable drinkware helps to combat the overall plastic waste issue our oceans are facing. A whopping 8 tons of plastic bottles are dumped into our oceans each year and by 2050, it is estimated that there will be more plastic bottles in the ocean than fish.


Eco-friendly drinkware not only combats the issues mentioned above, it is the perfect canvas for artists and an easy product for POD companies to supply. For the consumer, the smooth, cylindrical surface proves easy to print logos, graphics, family photos and more on. Have a popular tik toker running a short campaign? Put it on drinkware! Another Bernie meme? Put it on drinkware! The possibilities are truly endless. Finally, drinkware fits every consumer, unlike apparel which turns gifting into a guessing game which could end up awkward.

For the POD company, drinkware has low inventory costs because there is only one mouth size. No need to have an elaborate inventory control system for different sku’s based on size, color, etc. Drinkware is easy.


If you decided drinkware is for you, congratulations! You are one step closer to brand differentiation and doing your part to reduce plastic bottles in the ocean. But wait, there’s more. It is not only eco-sustainable to offer reusable drinkware, you need to find the most environmentally friendly way of decorating it as well. For starters, there are a few ways to decorate drinkware. For the purpose of this post, we will only focus on those methods that make sense for a print on demand company.


Dye-sublimation is one of the most recognizable print on demand printing methods offered today. In short, the artwork is printed on sublimation paper and heated to adhere to the drinkware’s surface. Unfortunately, the drinkware needs to be polyester for this method to work probably and you end up with a ton of waste. Dye-sublimation utilizes sublimation paper, powders, cutters and many more supplies to get 1 piece completed. Taking into account many orders, this results in a ton of paper and plastic waste. While it is successful for print on demand processes, it doesn’t help companies stay sustainable.

Digital Printing Print on Demand Drinkware

Digital printing offers a whole new playing field for eCommerce. Full-color, full-coverage, seamless graphics are easily achievable with digital printing and the substrates are limitless. Print on pint glasses, stainless tumblers, sports bottles and more with inkjet printing. Aside from the ability to use reusable drinkware as a canvas, inkjet printing is also sustainable in nature. The graphics are manipulated on a computer and sent to the machine to print. There is no plastic or paper waste. Let’s compare the two methods by using the birds in trees analysis. By switching to digital, you are doing the following:

  • Waste reduction – avoid 9,375,000 square foot of waste
  • Tree savings – save 1,732 trees
  • Bird preservation – preserve home for 24,248 birds
  • Water savings – save 86,600 gallons of water (used for paper production)
  • Oil-use reduction – avoid using 22,168 gallons of oil (used for paper production)

Digital on Demand’s Pledge to an Eco-Friendly Print on Demand Process

At Digital on Demand, we make sure we are sticking to our core values of better the planet. Not only do we use a green printing method (pun intended), we also make sure the substances we are using on the products are eco-friendly. For example, for our pint glasses, we use a water-based primer to ensure optimal adhesion and a UV ink that is heavily tested. All misprints are donated instead of thrown away.

Contact Digital on Demand for your Eco-Friendly Print on Demand needs.

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