Sustainable PPE & Safety Equipment: What End-Users Really Want

For a variety of consumer products, whether it be electric vehicles, cosmetics, or couches, consumers have shown that they’re willing to pay a sustainability premium. But the calculus in B2B markets is quite different, with most procurement departments laser-focused on lowest initial price. Even for companies with advanced sustainability and ESG programs, well over half of purchasing leaders still consider cost savings the #1 driver of sustainable purchasing practices.  

Suppliers of PPE and safety equipment are increasingly challenged to offer products that excel at protecting workers, support the sustainability and ESG goals of key end-users, and can deliver all this at a competitive price point.

To help ISEA members navigate this inflection point, we partnered with ASSP and EHS Today to understand the sustainability preferences of end-users of PPE and safety equipment.  Our study identified several key takeaways:

PPE/Safety Equipment Sustainability Matters to End-Users – 80% of end-users consider the sustainability attributes of PPE/SE to be an important purchase criteria.

End-Users Want Suppliers To Do the Math – Although only 16% of end-users are very likely to pay a reasonable “sustainability premium,” they’re twice as likely to do so for suppliers that take the time to quantify sustainability benefits.

 The Procurement / Sustainability DisconnectMcKinsey has shown that only 10% of companies factor sustainability goals into category-level purchasing strategies. According to one respondent who leads EHS for a chemical manufacturer, “PPE contributions to our sustainability goals are a plus. But justifying a premium is very difficult, since our sustainability goals aren’t part of our official procurement requirements.”

Safety is Still Job #1 – Since several end-users voiced concerns about taking focus away from PPE/SE’s core purpose of protection, ISEA manufacturer members should provide proof points that their sustainable products are able to perform and protect equally or more effectively than their traditional ones. According to and EHS leader from an industrial manufacturer, “The product’s safety attributes are most important. However, I will always select a product that falls under the sustainability umbrella before another product, cost notwithstanding.”

Download the Full Study

ISEA members can download the full study, along with the predecessor study that benchmarks the sustainability practices of suppliers of PPE and safety equipment. on the member dashboard under Quick Links. 

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