The move is a milestone for the environmentally conscious brand, which has worked to reduce plastic in its supply chain for over a decade.

No matter how sustainably you live, you take some amount of plastic packaging for granted, right? Not so for prAna, which announced on Monday that it achieved 100% plastic-free packaging.

prana paper packaging

The accomplishment is impressive but not necessarily surprising. The California-based brand has championed sustainable outdoor fashion since its inception in 1992. Its Clothing for Positive Change movement advocates for eco-friendly practices from prioritizing animal welfare to mitigating climate change.

And the plastic-free packaging announcement coincides with the one-year anniversary of prAna’s Responsible Packaging Movement (RPM), which, according to prAna’s release, “inspires and creates industry-wide change around responsible packaging.”

Identifying the Need: prAna’s Road to 100% Plastic-Free Packaging

The brand’s journey to 100% plastic-free packaging began 11 years ago. The manager of the Boulder, Colorado, prAna store took a picture of an enormous pile of plastic bags from a shipment. They then sent the photo up the corporate chain, along with a question: “What do you want me to do with all of this?”

plastic bags

That got prAna thinking. What did it want to do with all of this? It took a grassroots approach, centered around its roll-pack method. As a result, it’s removed over 20 million plastic bags from its supply chain to date.

But prAna still had to clear a final obstacle or two to reach 100% plastic-free packaging, which it accomplished by using glassine bags.

“Finding a solution to protect our more sensitive products, like swimsuits and outerwear, was our final hurdle in the journey towards plastic-free packaging,” said prAna’s Director of Sustainability, Rachel K. Lincoln. “It’s true that some products need protection and implementing the glassine bag was a great solution.”

Glassine is a pulp-based paper product that retains some of the durability benefits of plastic. The rest of the brand’s sustainable packaging strategy involved recycled materials and other creative packaging solutions.

Highlights include:

  • Roll-pack in over 70% of its products. Once rolled, the apparel is secured with a recyclable raffia tie which leaves it “wrinkled for a reason.”
  • Glassine bags when roll-pack doesn’t work. prAna is also working to switch to 100% regenerated fiber content.
  • 100% recycled paper hangtags and organic cotton string rather than plastic swift tacks.
  • Accessories utilize origami-style paper packaging — free of plastic and metal fasteners.
  • FSC-certified, recyclable paper tape.
  • Recycled content kraft paper mailers or corrugated boxes.

prAna’s Recyclable Packaging Movement and the Future

Prana responsible packaging vellum FSC certified paper bag

PrAna reports that over the past year, its Responsible Packaging Movement has brought in over 80 brands across multiple industries. (They are aiming for 100 partners by the end of 2021.) Notably, GSI, HOKA, and LifeStraw have joined in.

The program provides a network of like-minded brands, monthly webinars, and roundtable discussions with industry leaders. It also helps partners share their progress with a social media toolkit.

PrAna’s impressive accomplishment should serve to solidify its status as an environmental leader in its field. But it’s not done yet.

The brand also pledges to eliminate ancient and endangered forest fibers in 2022 and to eliminate virgin forest fibers in 2025. And by 2028, it will produce 100% of its apparel in Fair Trade Certified factories.

Check out prAna’s website to learn more about its products and sustainability mission.

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