Embroidery - Shirt printing

Australia is witnessing a growing trend towards sustainability across various industries, and the T shirt printing sector is no exception. As the demand for eco-friendly products continues to rise, businesses are increasingly adopting sustainable practices to minimise their environmental impact. This article delves into the green initiatives shaping the Australian shirt printing industry, focusing on eco-friendly inks, sustainable materials, and recycling programs. 

The Shift Towards Eco-Friendly Inks 

In the traditional world of T shirt printing, the use of inks has been a major concern due to their environmental impact. Conventional inks often contain harmful chemicals and solvents that contribute to pollution and health hazards. However, a growing number of Australian businesses are shifting to eco-friendly inks to mitigate these issues. 

Water-Based Inks: Water-based inks have become a popular choice for shirt printing due to their reduced environmental footprint. These inks are free from PVC and phthalates, making them safer for both the environment and human health. Unlike plastisol inks, which require chemical solvents for cleaning, water-based inks can be cleaned with water, thereby reducing the release of harmful chemicals into the environment. 

Soy-Based Inks: Soy-based inks are another sustainable option gaining traction in the Australian shirt and screen-printing industry. Derived from renewable soybean oil, these inks offer vibrant colours and high print quality. Additionally, they are biodegradable and produce fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) compared to traditional petroleum-based inks, reducing air pollution and contributing to cleaner air. 

Digital Printing with Eco-Solvent Inks: Eco-solvent inks used in digital screen printing provide an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional solvent-based inks. These inks have a lower concentration of VOCs and are typically used for producing high-quality prints with minimal environmental impact. Many Australian T shirt printing companies are adopting digital printing technologies that use eco-solvent inks to offer sustainable printing solutions.

Embroidery - Subiaco shirt

Sustainable Materials: Beyond Just the Ink 

While the type of ink used in shirt printing is crucial, the choice of materials also plays a significant role in sustainability. Australian companies are increasingly turning to sustainable fabrics and materials to reduce their ecological footprint. 

Organic Cotton: Organic cotton is a preferred choice for sustainable T shirt printing in Australia. Unlike conventional cotton, which requires large quantities of water and synthetic chemicals, organic cotton is grown using natural farming methods that minimise water usage and avoid harmful pesticides. This not only reduces environmental impact but also ensures a healthier working environment for farmers. 

Recycled Polyester: Recycled polyester is made from post-consumer plastic waste, such as PET bottles. By recycling these materials, shirt printing companies can significantly reduce the demand for virgin polyester, which is derived from non-renewable resources like crude oil. Recycled polyester offers a sustainable alternative without compromising on quality or durability, making it a popular choice in eco-friendly screen-printing practices across Australia. 

Hemp and Bamboo Fabrics: Hemp and bamboo are emerging as sustainable alternatives to traditional textiles in the Australian shirt printing industry. Both plants are fast-growing and require fewer resources compared to cotton. Hemp, in particular, is known for its durability and resistance to pests, making it an eco-friendly choice for T shirts that need to withstand frequent wear and washing. Bamboo, on the other hand, offers a soft, breathable fabric that is biodegradable and renewable. 

Innovative Recycling Programs 

In addition to using eco-friendly inks and sustainable materials, Australian shirt or screen-printing companies are implementing recycling programs to further reduce their environmental impact. These programs aim to minimise waste and promote a circular economy in the industry. 

Garment Recycling: Several Australian businesses have introduced garment recycling initiatives to encourage customers to return old T shirts for recycling. These returned garments are either repurposed into new products or recycled into raw materials for new fabrics. This approach not only reduces textile waste but also conserves resources and reduces the environmental impact associated with producing new garments. 

Ink Cartridge Recycling: Ink cartridge recycling programs are becoming increasingly common among Australian T shirt printing companies. These programs collect used cartridges, which are then cleaned, refilled, or recycled to recover valuable materials. By participating in ink cartridge recycling, companies can significantly reduce waste and lower the carbon footprint of their printing operations. 

Zero Waste to Landfill: Some progressive Australian shirt printing companies are adopting zero waste to landfill policies, striving to eliminate waste sent to landfills. This involves a comprehensive approach to waste management, including recycling, composting, and reusing materials. By committing to zero waste, these companies are setting a new standard for sustainability in the industry.

Embroidery - Press

Leading the Charge: Australian Companies Making a Difference 

Several Australian shirt printing companies are leading the way in sustainable practices, setting an example for the industry. 

Custom Branded Workwear: Custom Branded Workwear is a prominent player in the Australian screen-printing market, known for its commitment to sustainability. The company uses water-based inks and organic cotton for its products, and actively participates in recycling programs to minimise waste. Their efforts in promoting eco-friendly shirt printing practices have earned them a reputation as a leader in the industry. 

The Print Bar: The Print Bar is another Australian company making strides in sustainable T shirt printing. They use eco-friendly inks and offer a range of garments made from organic and recycled materials. The company also engages in various environmental initiatives, including offsetting their carbon footprint and supporting local environmental projects. 

Tsarinas T-Shirts: Tsarinas T-Shirts is a small, yet impactful, Australian business that specialises in sustainable shirt printing. They use water-based inks and organic fabrics, and their production processes are designed to minimise waste and energy consumption. By focusing on sustainability, Tsarinas T-Shirts is setting an example for other small businesses in the industry. 


The T shirt printing industry in Australia is undergoing a significant transformation as businesses adopt sustainable practices to meet the growing demand for eco-friendly products. By embracing eco-friendly inks, sustainable materials, and innovative recycling programs, Australian companies are not only reducing their environmental impact but also leading the charge towards a greener future. 

Whether it’s through the use of water-based or soy-based inks, the adoption of organic cotton and recycled polyester, or the implementation of comprehensive recycling programs, the shift towards sustainability in shirt printing is evident across the country. As consumers become more conscious of their environmental impact, the demand for green printing practices will continue to grow, driving further innovation and change in the industry.

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