Reciprocity Road Trip: Sustainability and Community Impact with Sanmar


Last month, our co-founders had the opportunity to travel to Honduras with fellow Reciprocity Road owners to visit one of Sanmar’s apparel manufacturers. Sanmar is a leading family-owned supplier of apparel and accessories for the promotional products industry. Established in 1971, Sanmar is recognized for its commitment to quality, customer service, and sustainability. Sanmar has made significant strides in creating sustainable apparel by partnering with Elcatex, a textile company based in Honduras.

Reciprocity Road is a partner group comprising twelve promotional product distributor firms in the promotional merchandise industry. The group focuses on leveraging collective buying power and sharing best practices among its members to enhance business growth and efficiency. Reciprocity Road is committed to corporate social responsibility and operates a unique “Giveback Program” where a portion of all rebates are donated to charitable organizations chosen by clients and partners. 

The opportunity to visit Sanmar’s Honduras manufacturing partners gave us firsthand insight into how this partnership is setting a benchmark for sustainability and community impact in the industry.

Commitment to Sustainability

Our tour encompassed the full cycle of polyester and cotton milling, knitting, dying, cutting, and sewing. Over the two-day trip, we followed the journey from RPET and PET pellets and bails of US-grown cotton to finished goods. 

Elcatex has established itself as a leader in sustainable textile production, focusing on minimizing environmental impact. One key feature of its operation is the use of renewable energy sources. The company has invested heavily in solar power, with extensive solar panels installed across its facilities (it’s the largest rooftop solar array in Latin America), significantly reducing its carbon footprint. 

Elcatex has also implemented water conservation techniques that include advanced wastewater treatment plants. These facilities purify and recycle water used in dyeing and fabric processing, ensuring that the company uses water resources responsibly and reduces pollution. Since 2010, they’ve reduced water use by 70%. 

screen shot of the elcatex impact calculator
Elcatex Impact Calculator Image

Enhancing Local Communities

Beyond environmental efforts, the partnership between Sanmar and Elcatex is notable for its impact on local communities in Honduras. Elcatex is one of the largest employers in the region, providing stable jobs to thousands of local residents. 

Elcatex also engages in community development programs. These initiatives range from building schools and supporting local education to healthcare. We had a chance to visit a housing development program where Elcatex is partnering with external agencies to enable home ownership amongst their workers and the broader community.

Education and Training

A pivotal aspect of the partnership’s success lies in its focus on education and training. Elcatex has established training centers that equip employees with the necessary textile manufacturing skills and focus on sustainability practices. These centers help workers understand the importance of reducing waste, conserving energy, and implementing eco-friendly practices in their daily operations. They’ve developed an internal innovation and sustainability consultancy, ReThink, whose focus is maximizing efficiency and minimizing impact across all operations.

Picture of Denise and Renato during the  factory tour.

The Products

Allmade supports garment workers, reduces environmental impact, and uses better materials. This dedication drives their partnership with Elcatex, reinforcing their mission to create positive change within the garment industry. Together, they uphold the values of ethical production practices, ensuring that workers are treated with dignity and respect, and environmental stewardship remains a top priority. By aligning with Elcatex, Allmade strengthens its supply chain and sets a precedent for other brands to follow suit in prioritizing worker welfare and ecological responsibility. The result is a clothing line that not only boasts high-quality basics but also carries the promise of a more sustainable and ethical future for the apparel industry. Ask us about Allmade’s high-quality basics that feel great and look even better decorated – t-shirts ideal for merch apparel.

woman wearing a thsirt in a field

Looking Forward

As Sanmar and Elcatex continue their partnership, the focus remains on pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in sustainable manufacturing. Future plans include further reductions in energy consumption, increased reliance on renewable energy sources, and continuous improvement of waste management practices.

Sanmar’s collaboration with Elcatex in Honduras exemplifies how strategic partnerships can bring impactful environmental and social benefits. By prioritizing sustainability and community, they are not just producing textiles but are weaving a better future for everyone involved.

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