Not only are they superbly crafted and repeatedly awarded international designer prizes: the writing instruments produced by the Swiss quality brand Prodir also fulfil the criteria demanded by the ecological and socially-responsible. They stand for a new generation of green products that no longer has anything in common with knitted jumpers and grey recycled paper. They represent the coming together of what belongs together: a high appeal factor for buyers and users in terms of design and quality, as well as comprehensive sustainability.
When it comes to social responsibility, Prodir Sales Manager Guido Casparis reacts with a smile: “Our Swissness alone is a guarantee for the upholding of the highest social and labour law-related standards.” Current Swiss employment and social standards cover the some 200 employees who work at the various Prodir locations in Ticino. The frequent enquiries from key customers requesting verification that child labour is in no way part of the manufacturing processes, practically answer themselves.
Prodir is the only European manufacturer of promotional writing instruments that handles all of its own production processes from A to Z, exclusively in Switzerland. And the same thing applies to environmental considerations. “Our production locations,” continues Casparis, “are subjected to some of the most stringent environmental laws and legislation in the world.” Switzerland regularly holds the top position in ecological rankings, most recently at the WEF in Davos. And as far as recycling, economical use of energy and general resource conservation is concerned, Switzerland is further along than anywhere else. “In contrast to competitors who have their products manufactured in countries where cheap labour holds the costs down, we rely on state of the art technologies in order to remain competitive.” The cutting-edge equipment used in Ticino not only ensures better quality and flexibility. Dealings with natural resources are also more thoughtful and efficient: pollutants are filtered out and, wherever possible, recyclable materials are reintegrated into the production processes.
“Made in Switzerland is basically a promise that we pass on to all of our customers with each and every one of our writing instruments.” Sustainability, however, also implies longevity. And in order that people use a product readily and for a long period of time – the principal success indicator for promotional media – it must be pleasing and stand the test of time. Writing instruments that need to be disposed of after only a short period of use due to defects in the casing, mechanism or refills are ecologically dubious – even if their exterior is made from 100% recycled paper. Designs, as well, with a short half-life reduce the lifespan of a product and thereby worsen its eco-balance; at the same time, the effective period as a promotional medium is drastically reduced. Top-notch design and excellent writing quality are therefore always sustainable investments in the effectivity of a promotional product.
The ballpoint pen’s refill is of crucial importance. Prodir’s writing technology is developed by its Swiss sister company Premec, the world’s leading manufacturer of writing components. The refills provide for pleasantly soft and flowing writing, without smearing and staining. With a total writing performance of over 5 kilometres and an assumed daily writing performance of 2 metres, they last for at least 7 years or around 500,000 signatures – in any case, a very high benchmark indeed. Many ballpoint pens that are intentionally marketed as environmentally friendly often have refills with a performance of less than 2 kilometres. The unusually long lifespan of Prodir refills also raises the average number of writing instrument users to 8 – 10. This, in turn, markedly increases the ratio of promotional contacts per 1000 writing instruments – a number that also documents a service that customers in the promotional media market acquire. From an ecological viewpoint, this actually means that a Prodir ballpoint pen lasts and writes up to 20 times longer than other commercially available products, and that its environmental footprint is up to 20 times smaller.
In this way, ecology and economics go hand in hand. Of course, every ballpoint pen is thrown away at some point. According to reliable estimates, the figure stands at around 100 million pens – daily. In terms of raw materials, this represents around 8 million kilograms of plastic and 20 tonnes of precious metal – every single day. The decisive issue then is the amount and length of writing performance provided up to that point, and – in the case of a promotional article – how many people, up to that point, positively registered the message that is printed on it. “Our products,” according to Casparis, “may be something like the low-energy bulbs in the world of writing instruments. Only they look a lot better – and are Swiss made.”