Starre Vartan

Packaging the Future: REI "Unpackages" Five of Their Popular Products

by , 12/21/11

 packaging the future, eco packaging, reducing packaging, green packaging, packaging waste, reducing packaging waste, packaging alternatives, no packaging products, zero waste packaging, REI, rei design, rei company

CAMP COOK SETS

Before: The consumer packaging (box) used was polylaminated, and the product factory poly bagged each and every lid, pot, or accessory.

After: “The packaging innovation lead to using a preferred packaging supplier that could trace the board used with our box. We also incorporated a unique die cut box to have better shelf impact. This allowed the consumer to see the product not just the photo,” says Abraham.

Packaging Reduction: Design was light weighted by 15%, many fewer pieces used, and plastic reduced.

 packaging the future, eco packaging, reducing packaging, green packaging, packaging waste, reducing packaging waste, packaging alternatives, no packaging products, zero waste packaging, REI, rei design, rei company

APPAREL HANGTAGS

Before: Hangtags made from some recycled materials, attached to clothes with virgin plastic ties.

After: “We rethought changing hangtag format, increased recycled content to 100% FSC certified, 100% recycled content. We worked with Avery-Dennison, and they came up with a resin extracted from polypro hangers to make bar tacks. We’re now using recycled content which uses less energy and less impact from virgin materials.”

Packaging Reduction: 130,000 pounds of paperboard saved. Future plans may include doing away with hangtags all together.

It is this kind of attention to detail and thoughtfulness that is what waste reduction (and possibly elimination – the company has a goal of zero-landfill contribution by 2020) is all about. And best of all, REI is sharing its innovative solutions with other outdoor retailers and companies in its space. The “hidden element of sustainability is sharing best practices,” says Abraham. “How can we do less bad and do more good?” If Northface, Merrill, Patagonia and others can ask vendors the same questions, then “…our factories understand we are moving together and working together,” says Abraham. If packaging is a product, and vice versa, then this is the next generation of great products.

Read more on the REI blog here.


All images courtesy REI.

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Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick and author of The Eco-Chick Guide to Life (St. Martin’s Press). A green living expert, she contributes to The Huffington Post and Mother Nature Network (MNN.com)

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