Socially responsible labels and tags.
No more hangtags for our brand SIP Protection
What if we no longer hang labels and tags on the garments we produce? That was the question we’ve asked ourselves. We’d use less raw materials for sure, and using less raw materials means a lower carbon footprint, but would this be feasible, accepted in the market? We’ve started a pilot project for our SIP Protection brand, where we omit hangtags. We will no longer add them, but this doesn’t mean the information will no longer be available.
In apparel, it’s not only handy to find labels and hangtags, when it comes to lifesaving garments (commonly referred to as P.P.E. – Personal Protective Equipment), providing information to the wearer is obliged by law.
To comply with those requirements, we’ve been sewing and hanging tags and labels in and on the garments we produce.
Hangtags and labels are tiny pieces of what goes into a garment, but they are created for each garment sold and act as essential consumer communication tools. They often are printed on paper or cardboard, using a plastic connector to attach them onto the garment.
Hanging from the garment by a tack or permanently fastened inside the seam, these pieces of material hold extensive product information. This may include: logos, brand names, company statements, prices, sizes, style numbers, bar codes, and even (alarm) sensors. Some information such as care instructions, country of origin, manufacturer identification, and fabric composition are even mandatory by law. In addition to the physical aspect, psychological aspects are also passed through hangtags and labels. We’re well aware that perceptions of prestige and wealth, social concerns and ethics, or branding messages act as a powerful motivator in a consumer’s selection process.
Hence, omitting the hangtags altogether, is not such a straightforward decision as initially thought.
Hangtags gradually disappearing
Therefore, we’ve started a pilot project for our SIP Protection brand, where we will omit hangtags. We will no longer add them, but this doesn’t mean the information will no longer be available. We might print some info directly on the garment’s fabric wherever possible (feasibility study and sustainability assessment ongoing) and our website will contain even more information than you could ever find on the hangtags.
We have already started producing our new SIP Protection garments without the hangtags. You might, however, find or buy some garments that still have hangtags. We haven’t forgotten to leave them out. It just means that that garment was produced before the decision about the hangtags was made.
Not using hangtags also means that there is no need to use that small plastic connection piece between the hangtags. Thanks to omitting the plastic connectors on our SIP Protection garments, 150 kg of plastic less is used each year. If you can’t really imagine how much that is: it’s about 46 km of plastic connectors when you place them next to each other.
Of course, we also save a lot of glossy paper and cardboard when we no longer add hangtags.
“We know that we’re not a 100 percent sustainable company. We acknowledge that. But it’s a journey, and we’ll get there” Paul Verhelst, product manager of the SIP Protection brand says. “We strive to improve ourselves every day and we are really motivated to incorporate sustainability and technology in our daily operations. As CSR and sustainability are integral parts of our company’s vision and long-term business strategy, we aim to promote sustainability in an economically appealing and consumer-satisfying manner.”
Paul Verhelst: “We absolutely want to encourage conversation and education about the 5 CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) topics “People, Planet, Profitability, Peace and Partnership”, keeping sustainability as a central part of our business ethics.”
Eventually CO₂ Neutral
Our SIP Protection brand has taken a number of steps towards becoming a CO₂ neutral company in the long term. As a producer of P.P.E., we take sustainability seriously, and we aim to fight climate change, to reduce waste and to look for alternative sources of energy, and packaging materials among others. We have made some major decisions in the past, but we also believe that every small step brings us closer to our goal. That is why we decided to omit the hangtags.
Paul Verhelst: “We’re part of the Sioen group that even goes way further than any individual brand can do when it comes to sustainability. The group has chosen to measure and has organised its actions in circularity working groups in order to achieve sustainable results on all operational levels. Up to the design phase of a garment where we apply some rules of thumb: 1. design to disassemble 2. design to repair and 3. design to recycle.
This approach is not the answer to everything, but it is a big part of the story because then you actually present data and people can start making some changes,” Paul explains.