At Bontrager, we recognize that the decisions we make about our product packaging have a very real and lasting impact on the environment. As an outdoor recreation company whose existence is intimately linked to the exploration and enjoyment of playground earth, lessening our environmental impact and conserving resources is central to our company ethos.
Here's what Bontrager is doing to reduce our packaging footprint:
We Use Less Material
The easiest way to lessen our impact is to reduce the size and weight of the packaging materials we use. When we develop new products, we work really hard to either reduce the size of the header card (if the product currently comes on a card), or replace a box with a card. A recent example is our stems: we've gone from a fairly involved box-within-a-box format (with the outer box made of heavy e-flute corrugate) to a simple card design. As a result of that change alone, we now use less than ¼ of the stem packaging material we originally used. Plus, reduced packaging means less shipping costs, as more products can now fit in a shipping container.
We Use Recyclable Materials
For a number of years now Bontrager's packaging has been recyclable. But in the past, much of our recyclable packaging used coated, bleached card stock. Bleaching card stock uses toxic chemicals that are difficult to dispose of and unsafe to work around. All card stock is now not only 100% recyclable, it's also unbleached, resulting in a light brown, somewhat uneven look. In addition to its lower environmental impact during the manufacturing process, unbleached stock also breaks down faster in a recycling environment.
We Use Responsible Materials
70-90% of the material in our packaging card stock is recycled, a mix of post-industrial (unused scraps and discards) and post-consumer (used material diverted from the waste stream before it can end up in an incinerator or landfill). Post-consumer is best for the environment, so we use it whenever possible. In the few cases where recycled material is not an option, we use only material sourced from certified sustainable forests.
We Eliminate or Reduce Plastic
We make every effort to eliminate plastic from our packaging. As a rule, we avoid the use of "sealed clam shell" plastic packaging for any of our products. If we do have to use plastic in order to properly display a product (like a cycling computer), we require a more easily recycled, less-harmful polymer such as polypropylene (PP) or polyethylene terephthalate (PET), instead of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). We avoid PVC at all costs.
We Use Earth-Friendly Inks
In the past, we've used some metallic inks for our packaging. Metallic inks are bright and flashy, but they don't break down very well and can also contain lead or other harmful chemicals. As a result, we've eliminated metallic ink from all of our packaging and require all of our printers to use soy-based inks for Bontrager package printing.
Before & After
Examples of our new handlebar (fig. 1), seatpost (fig. 2) and stem (fig. 3) packaging
Packaging is just the beginning. We can do more. So we do.