Manufacturing with sustainability in mind

Here at the Umbrella Workshop, we have been working hard to make sure that we leave as little impact on the environment as possible.Read on to see how we insist on being different from our competitors when it comes to manufacturing our luxury branded umbrellas.

Here are a number of ways we are approaching this challenge.

Sustainable merchandise
Unsplash-Nicholas Doherty

1. Using recycled materials for the Printed Umbrella Canopies

Where possible, we choose sustainable materials such as RPET for the canopies of the umbrellas. RPET is a material often used in manufacturing clothing, bags, and umbrellas, it’s made from recycled PET plastic such as water bottles, reducing the need to manufacture virgin PET plastic.

RPET fabric is used for making stunning umbrella canopies with the same structural integrity as standard umbrellas.

The environmental benefits of using of RPET umbrella fabric are,

  • Environmental benefits: RPET fabric is made using recycled plastic bottles, which reduces the need for virgin plastics and therefore reduces the demand for new petroleum-based resources.  On top of this, the production of RPET generally uses less energy in comparison to the manufacturing of virgin plastics.
  • Reduction of waste: By re-using PET plastics, less material ends up in landfills and the ocean. Value is given to the discarded bottle.
  • Characteristics: RPET fabric often has very similar characteristics to virgin PET, including durability, moisture-wicking properties (helpful in manufacturing umbrellas), and resistance to wrinkles and abrasion.
  • Consumer appeal: Many consumers are increasingly environmentally conscious, and products made from recycled materials may appeal to those seeking more sustainable options.

2. UV printing

UV printing (ultraviolet printing) is a digital printing technology that uses ultraviolet light to instantly cure UV-sensitive inks, similar to normal inkjet printers you may have in your home but on a much larger, industrial, scale and can be used on a vast array of materials.

UV printing is becoming a popular technique in the manufacturing of umbrellas and is also popular in the printing of fabric, flooring, banners etc. Anything that covers a vast space tends to be UV printed and is now often favoured over screen printing.

  • Energy efficient: UV printing technique doesn’t require as much energy as most older techniques, largely because UV printing instantly dries whereas other printing techniques involve a curing process.
  • Reduced carbon emissions: UV printing produces minimal volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other harmful emissions. Traditional solvent-based inks release VOCs into the atmosphere during the drying process, contributing to air pollution.
  • Reduced waste: As previously mentioned, UV ink cures instantly, which reduces the likelihood of smudging the ink whilst in the drying process or misprints. In addition to this, inks used in UV printing tend to apply better to a variety of fabrics which means less rejection and less waste.
  • Variety of materials: UV printing can be used to print onto a number of different materials, including glass, metal, paper, and even many fabrics, and can often be much longer lasting and hardy than many other print techniques.
  • No solvents: In traditional printing techniques such as screen-printing, the inks contain solvents that are harmful to the environment, and the printworkers who breathe in the chemicals on a regular basis. UV printing inks, however, do not contain any solvents which makes them a much cleaner and more sustainable choice.

3. Low Carbon Wood Walking umbrellas

We manufacture several stunning umbrella models for printing, some made from steel and others from wood. Our wood walking umbrellas are the most timeless and classic in terms of their aesthetic appeal making them a popular choice for many of our clients.

We love this style of branded wood walking umbrella, not just for its classical elegance, but because it can be considered an eco-friendly alternative to our other models. Manufacturing products from wood can be much more environmentally friendly than the use of many other materials, for several reasons such as:

  • Renewable recourse: Trees can be re-planted and grown. When sustainable forestry practices take place, this ensures that for every tree harvested, new ones are planted which helps maintain a continuous wood supply.
  • Carbon Sequestrian: Trees store carbon as they grow and when wood is used in products, they continue to store carbon which helps mitigate climate change by removing carbon from the atmosphere. In contrast to this, some materials such as plastic and metal produce carbon emissions during their production and have a more significant environmental impact.
  • Energy Efficiency: The manufacturing process of wood products often requires less energy compared to other materials like steel or concrete, which can have high energy-intensive production processes.
  • Biodegradability: Wood is biodegradable and can decompose naturally, causing minimal harm to the environment when it reaches the end of its life cycle. Unlike, non-biodegradable materials like plastics can persist in the environment for centuries, contributing to pollution.
  • Lower Toxicity: Wood products are typically less toxic and harmful to human health compared to some synthetic materials that may contain hazardous chemicals or emit harmful fumes.
  • Local Sourcing: Using locally sourced wood reduces transportation-related emissions, supporting regional economies and reducing the carbon footprint associated with the product.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Wood products often have an aesthetically pleasing and natural appearance, which can be desirable and long-lasting, reducing the need for frequent replacements.
  • Versatility: Wood can be used in a wide range of products, from furniture to construction materials, providing a sustainable alternative for various applications.

4. UK factories

The Umbrella Workshop is based in the UK, and because of this we also love to manufacture our umbrellas in the UK, as this can often be a much more sustainable option than manufacturing in the Far East.

Our primary manufacturing facility in the UK has been working hard since 2009 to keep things green and is proud to be Carbon Neutral, powered by 100% renewable energy, all generated using windmills, solar panels, and a hydro installation.

To add to this, a special type of RPET plastic called ‘Green Plus’ yarn can be used. Old water bottles are processed into polyester yarn, which is then used to manufacture the umbrella canopies, whilst still possessing the same hardy, water-proofing qualities as conventional umbrellas.

Manufactured in the UK
Manufactured in the UK

5. Greener Freight Shipping

Due to the nature of our business, we tend to do a lot of international shipping all over the world, sending out boxes of umbrellas, custom bespoke bags, or custom garments to our beloved clientele or on their behalf through our pick-and-pack service. So, because of this, we have tried to combat our carbon footprint as much as possible, such as:

  • Getting the most out of every move: Here at the Umbrella Workshop, we believe that a fuller move is a greener move, we strive to combine deliveries and maximize how much we safely transport to reduce unnecessary transportation of goods.
  • Favour ocean over air: Shipping by sea is much more carbon-efficient than transporting goods by air and because of this, we always recommend choosing sea freight shipping over air freight. This is highlighted by the Environmental Defence Fund (EDF) which claims that ‘long-haul air freight has an emissions factor of 868.3 tonnes of CO2 compared to Ocean freight which is 68.1’. However, we know this is not always possible as air freight is much quicker and can meet those extra-tight deadlines.
  • We demand cleaner practices and equipment: We work closely with our logistics partners to guarantee the use of cleaner cargo handling equipment and employ other air pollution-reducing practices at busy transport hubs.
  • Manufacturing in the UK: As mentioned previously, our main UK manufacturer is a completely carbon-neutral facility, running on 100% renewable energy.
  • Closer to home: Our offices, located in Frome near the lovely city of Bath, are powered by 100% renewable energy.

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