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Feature article
23 November 2022

APPA Member Promo Brands Paves the Road for a Greener Promotional Products Industry

Melbourne-based supplier Promo Brands recently added the slogan “Conscious, Responsible, Sustainable” to their company logo to reflect their increasingly green product lines and business operations.

“Our first conscious decision to be more sustainable as a company came back in 2017 when we stopped selling bottled water,” Promo Brands CEO and founder David Torelli (pictured below) explained.

“It just didn’t feel right selling 400,000 plastic bottles every year.”

This decision to cease sales of single-use plastic water bottles catalysed David and his team to look at their operations and assess how they could show greater responsibility to the environment and be a better corporate citizen overall.

“When we started the High Caliber Line (now Promo Brands) in 2006, we were selling predominately low-cost plastic items that would inevitably end up in landfill. Two years later, we introduced a biodegradable plastic called Bio-Green which lifted our eco-credentials but failed to gain traction with clients as the products were 10% dearer than regular plastics.”

“In hindsight, I believe we were too early in going to market with eco-friendly products. Nonetheless, we were still adamant on pursuing greater environmental responsibility as a company and believed our clients wanted to do the same,” Torelli explained.

Undeterred by the disappointing initial response to the company’s Bio-Green plastic products, Promo Brands began to discontinue many of the harmful plastic products in their range, instead stocking ample sustainable, reusable products made using eco-friendly materials like fast-growing bamboo and wheat straw.

Promo Brand’s ongoing quest to “drop the plastic” is not only relevant to the products they supply but also to the way the items are packaged and presented. When new products are selected for their range and a purchase order is placed, standard company practice is now to include a request on this form that the purchased products are not sent in plastic packaging.

At this year’s Promo Show in Melbourne, the Promo Brands team was thrilled to receive so much positive feedback from clients who repeatedly praised their commitment to being a sustainable company. This, according to David, is a huge motivator for the team and drives them to pursue their sustainability goals even more intensely.

Promo Brands currently donates $0.50 per unit of drinkware that is sold to marine conservationist organization Sea Shepherd, and plants one tree for every 100 jute bags that are purchased. This year, the team collectively agreed that they wanted to make an even bigger commitment to sustainability, and are subsequently in the process of implementing Environmental Management System ISO 14001. Promo Brands anticipates that the process should be completed by February 2023.

“It is my belief that as an Industry we need to address sustainability head on and show greater social and environmental consciousness in our purchasing patterns. We need to remember that while we are responsible to our clients, we have an even greater responsibility to protect the environment and the future of our planet,” said David.

“I challenge us all to take a step towards sustainability.”


Over the next few months, APPA will be profiling innovative suppliers within the promotional products industry to find out how they have transformed their operations to stay at the forefront of a rapidly modernising industry. Visit the APPA website every fortnight for a new discussion with one of our leading supplier members.

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