The PPAI Expo 2024 was a resounding success.

With my focus on sustainability, I had a unique lens with which to view our annual event, the largest gathering of industry professionals to collaborate and learn.

This year, you couldn’t walk more than a few steps on the show floor or through the education panel halls without seeing a word that ties into sustainability: eco, environmental, corporate social responsibility, ESG, transparency, renewable, regenerative, circular, etc.

We’ve highlighted some of the top product takeaways from the show, and now I’d like to share with you how The PPAI Expo 2024 emphasized the industry’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Here are the seven most captivating sustainability trends that stole the spotlight at the event.

  1. Energized Momentum Towards Sustainable Growth

I was blown away by the level of optimism surrounding how our industry is moving in the right direction to grow in a sustainable manner. There have always been several champions leading the charge, but this year, it felt like a huge increase in folks eager to collaborate on how to explore opportunities, embrace rather than endure and not just mitigate risks.

  1. Measurable Impact Reporting

There was a noticeable uptick in both conversation about and supplier focus on measurable impact reporting. Sustainability claims are increasingly being backed by robust metrics and data, marking a significant shift towards accountability. Is a product made from recycled content? Great! What percent and where did that recycled material come from? Did the collection of marine plastic waste generate jobs and help uplift a community?

  1. Transparency, Transparency, Transparency

Transparency was another hot topic, especially with suppliers like Rupt offering fully transparent product breakdowns. There was an increased focus on visibility throughout supply chains to prioritize responsible sourcing. I also had many conversations with attendees on the transparency of the initiatives MGM and Mandalay Bay run to ensure events like The PPAI Expo generate minimal waste.

  1. Technological Innovations

More suppliers are collaborating with technology firms to enhance trust in sustainability claims, leveraging blockchain technology to vet material traceability and supply chain transparency. Meanwhile, companies like To The Market are providing a software platform to enable responsible vendor compliance and automated impact reporting. Cutting-edge digital processes and AI will be an important part of promo’s path to becoming a more sustainable industry.

  1. Sustainable Booths

Sustainable booth design was something I saw catching on this year. From Numo Manufacturing’s minimal “This is a booth with our stuff in it” design to the fully reusable and cardboard booth setup from Raining Rose, these eco-friendly displays not only reflect a dedication to sustainability at a show level, but also signal a holistic integration of green practices throughout their operations.

  1. Community Impact Initiatives

The PPAI Expo 2024 showcased a growing emphasis on community and social impact products and companies, with initiatives like PromoCares’ For Good campaigns gaining more traction and visibility while companies like Gulu Gear showed that promo products can have wide ranging positive impacts in the communities they are sourced from.

  1. B Corporations On The Rise

I also noticed an uptick in companies on the show floor that were certified B Corps, underscoring a shift towards a more inclusive and sustainable business model that’s gaining a foothold in our industry. B Corps, with their focus on social and environmental performance, are driving positive change and setting new benchmarks for corporate responsibility.

The PPAI Expo 2024 showed me that the sustainability movement in promotional products is well underway, revealing trends that will continue to help shape the industry. I’m already fired up about how we’ll see this continue to grow and evolve over the course of this year, and how sustainability will manifest at The PPAI Expo 2025!

Elizabeth Wimbush is PPAI’s director of sustainability and responsibility.