How we’re making your Canva Prints environmentally-friendly 💚
Jim Towle

How we’re making your Canva Prints environmentally-friendly 💚


With our print partners Medio Pliego in Mexico

With our print partners Medio Pliego in Mexico.

Launched in 2017, Canva Print offers an end-to-end solution for our amazing community of designers. With just a couple of clicks from within the Canva editor, anyone can bring their designs to life as professional hard copy prints, delivered straight to their doorstep in a couple of days.

Today, Canva Print is available in 44 countries including the US, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand, as well as across Europe and Southeast Asia, where millions of unique business cards, letterheads, posters, invitations and flyers are being designed and delivered each day. We’ve also started to roll out print-on-demand T-shirts in the US—opening the door to ever more expressive designs to suit every style.

When it comes to choosing the right print partners and suppliers for Canva however, it’s not just about finding a company which is happy to negotiate at the right price. I’m looking to collaborate with people who share the same drive for excellence and customer success—because we want everyone to enjoy their hard copy prints as much as their digital designs. Another non-negotiable requirement is that our print partners embrace the same values when it comes to adopting environmentally-friendly and sustainable practices.

Why?

When you look at the number of hard copy prints Canva delivers, whether on paper or apparel, you can see how important it is to reduce the impact we have on our planet by reducing our environmental footprint. Savvy customers demand and expect companies to have an environmentally conscious production line, and are likely to choose a company that is transparent with their supply chain practices. People want to know where a product came from, from where the cotton is sourced and who picked it, all the way to the factory and the final point of sale. On the flipside, what this means is that any lack of transparency has the potential to create a negative image for the brand.

So it makes both dollars and “sense” to look for print partners who are as invested in offering a sustainable supply chain as we are.



With our print partners Medio Pliego in Mexico

With our print partners RPI, Inc in Kennesaw, GA.

As a major player of the print-on-demand category, we take our responsibility to the earth and to our supply chain very seriously. We do this by:

  • Thinking about environmental sustainability with every product decision we make.
  • Committing to continuous improvement of environmental sustainability.
  • Complying with all relevant environmental laws and policies.
  • Routinely auditing our facilities for compliance.

There are many players in this industry, and who we choose to partner with is a difficult decision we don’t make lightly. In this blog, I’ll share the approach behind how Canva selects its print partners. But first, let’s look into the problem with waste in our industry.

The problem with print wastage

Historically, the print industry was governed by clients requiring large bulk runs—typically orders in the thousands for brochures and books. What this meant was that any revision to the end product—be it minor or major edits—would mean that old prints were no longer relevant and would require reprints to update to the newest versions. The old material would have to be disposed of (though hopefully recycled), especially if there was no other way to repurpose this material for another use. As time went on, companies started to see a direct correlation between operational costs and revisions to print merchandise. The realization was clear—we needed to find a way to run smaller print batches to reduce waste.

Customer demand has been trending to shorter, frequent and personalized print projects for a while now, so the print industry had to start accommodating demand through better supply chain, logistics, and print technology—and so print-on-demand was born.

In theory, waste is minimized through the print-on-demand process and everything should be alright. But the truth is, without looking into the day-to-day workings of every process within the supply chain, waste is still a problem. This is why it’s important for us to dive deeper into how each print order is fulfilled.

Our print partners

We handpick our print partners for Canva based on a multitude of factors. Every decision - from the products we produce, suppliers of materials, supply chain, manufacturing partners and shipping carriers are considered against our values. Doing the right thing when it comes to the environment is hard work, but we believe it’s a critical responsibility.

We look into 3 key areas when considering who to partner with:

  • State of the art processes;
  • Conservation of raw materials and resources; and
  • Adoption of lean manufacturing principles.


1. State of the art processes

One of the things we look for in our partners is that they are equipped with state of the art machinery. Modern equipment typically equates to better quality, fewer production setups, and has been optimized for less wastage in the print process

For example, on the paper production side, we look for partners who use HP Indigo digital presses. HP boasts a global presence which means we can standardize our print platform around all markets we operate in, ensuring our customers everywhere can expect the same premium color quality. When it comes to our custom tshirt offering, we choose partners with Kornit Digital equipment for the same reason—finished products that meet our high quality standards. Both HP and Kornit have a strong sustainability policy that mirrors ours.


2. Conservation of raw materials and resources

It’s important for us to find partners who have existing relationships with their supply chain. When it comes to how and where our raw materials are sourced, transparency is key, as we have a responsibility to ensure they have the right sustainability certifications and fair labour practices.

How we source raw material

At Canva, we’re committed to developing and implementing innovative solutions that reduce our environmental footprint. Below is our process for sourcing our production, raw materials and packaging for our print service.
  1. Use papers from sustainable sources and those which include post-consumer waste (PCW).
  2. Source apparel from sustainably grown cotton for our garments.
  3. Source packaging made from recyclable materials.
  4. Source other raw materials or products following green principles or certification guidelines.
  5. Made-to-order production that focuses on minimal waste and storage
  6. Select printing equipment platforms that are eco-conscious in their manufacturing processes
  7. Locate production centers in close proximity to customers, to reduce emissions from transit of orders. Manufacture in-country wherever possible.


For example with our apparel offering, we choose Hanes as our T-shirt supplier. Not only do they have a strong product catalog, they also have a strong, proven environmental and corporate sustainability strategy in place.

“Hanes Brands strives to expand its use of sustainable materials in its products, including cotton yarns made from spinning technologies that require less energy to manufacture, recycled cotton fibers derived from cut fabric waste, and recycled polyester filament yarns and fibers, both from plastic bottles. The company has a decade of experience in using recycled PET in its products and, during this time, has fine-tuned manufacturing processes to incorporate recycled fibers without impact to quality. Recycled polyester is used in all of the company’s fleece products and in cotton-polyester EcoSmart T-shirts sold to screen printers. Annually, Hanes brand products contain 6 million pounds of recycled materials.

In 2017, Hanes achieved a landfill diversion rate of 84 percent, recycling more than 118 million pounds of fabric-cut parts, corrugate, plastic and other materials. By monetizing its dynamic recycling program, along with cost savings from energy reductions, the company created Green for Good – a unique philanthropic effort that takes environmentalism to the next level by combining it with community improvement and volunteerism. Since the program’s inception, more than 11,000 employees have donated 420,000 hours to complete nearly 70 distinct projects supported by $2.5 million in company funding. Projects have included school and hospital refurbishments, medical clinics, clean water projects, tree plantings and beach cleanups, among others.” —Excerpt from Hanes website


Ink with a purpose

Did you know that during the coloration process, a large percentage of dye does not bind to the fabric and is lost to the wastewater stream? Approximately 10-15% of the dye is released into the environment during this process. Prolonged contact with our skin (which happens to be the largest organ in the human body) means toxic chemicals are often absorbed into our system, posing serious health threats. All Canva Print apparel uses inks that are safe for our skin and for our environment.
  • 100% water-based biodegradable inks
  • Oeko-Tex 100 safety applications for Garment manufacturing facilities
  • 100% non-toxic inks
  • Inks that contain no animal by-products and are completely vegan friendly
  • Adherence to California Prop 65 regulations, CPSIA and many other global regulations.



3. Lean manufacturing principles and reducing production waste

One of the great things about today’s digital printing process is that setup waste is drastically minimized.

Traditionally wastage of 10-15% is factored into traditional offset printed orders. So for example, if you wanted 10,000 brochures, a printer would factor in an additional 1000-1500 prints to ensure the machine is set up properly for color quality, and to accommodate for errors with trimming and binding. Digital printing reduces the need for set-up waste as there is a drastically less need for machine setup and bindery waste.

With lean manufacturing principles, we’re looking out for waste areas such as the example above. In addition, we also review the entire process, looking for ways to improve the manufacturing workflow, reduce reprints and reworks, the way packaging is assembled, where materials are stored and how technology is used to help identify the location of each order throughout the factory.

Experience in the print-on-demand industry is crucial. The ability to fulfill bulk and single orders at the same time is not something that can be easily done without an in-depth understanding of the needs of each customer. We need to consider whether our partners have the processes in place to cater to multiple, small, individualized orders and the ability to expedite delivery for each customer. This is immensely different to printing 20 huge jobs in one day—we need companies which can manage tens of thousands of orders each day, and are also able to cater to unique individual orders. We have moved from a timeframe of days or weeks for a project to a timeframe of just hours as our customer demands change. Customers want highly customizable and individualized print projects with ability to order what they want when needed.

We also make it a point to work with regional print partners to reduce transit shipping costs and to ensure customers’ deliveries reach them faster.

Final thoughts

The rule of thumb here at Canva is to provide as much accuracy and transparency within our supply chains as possible. We believe this will also help reduce our long-term overhead costs and improve efficiency in the long run.

The truth is that it’s not all just about reducing waste. It’s about making decisions across the entire process—raw materials, distribution, supply chain, production, transportation and recycling. As a consumer, you should have the choice to align your purchase decisions with companies that share your opinion regarding the importance of environmental responsibility.

We all know that the earth’s resources are not infinite, and while our company mission is to give anyone the ability to ‘Design Anything, Publish anywhere’, we need to be conscious of how this affects the world in which we live. A core value at Canva is to ‘Be a Force for Good’, and for us on the print team that means asking questions about where and how things are made, so we can help preserve this beautiful planet we all share.




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