Eliminating waste is good for our business and good for the planet. For years we have worked to design and scale sustainable packaging standards and minimize waste throughout our operations. We will continue to do so, learning from and sharing openly with others.
Paper & Sustainable Forestry
Healthy forests are essential for a healthy planet and for people to enjoy the outdoors. They’re also essential to REI’s business. We use fiber and the resulting paper products throughout our operations – flyers, cardboard, shopping bags, hangtags and more. As a co-op that inspires our members to spend more time outside, sustainable forestry is a natural focus for us.
Part of our approach is the responsible use of resources and leveraging our purchasing power to help motivate sustainable practices within our supply chain. We are also committed to mitigating negative environmental impacts from the harvest and processing of paper products that we purchase. REI fully supports practices that promote forest sustainability, biodiversity and long-term shared environmental, social and economic benefits.
Our paper and paper products purchasing policy is a direct reflection of our values. It's designed to positively influence paper supply chains well beyond our immediate sphere. We also intend our policy to support sustainable forestry systems. We believe that forestry products can be a much-preferred alternative to other materials – if sourced and produced by sustainable methods.
When we purchase paper products, we strongly prefer post-consumer waste or virgin fiber harvested from Forest Stewardship Council-certified forests. We avoid buying products where the fiber comes from unknown or unwanted sources.
Our paper buyers continually work on innovative solutions to reduce waste paper. For example, we resize print pieces to match the width of stock paper. We have also redesigned the packaging of our REI-brand gear and apparel to minimize the amount of paper it contains.
Effective packaging is critical for safely transporting products. The perfect packaging design finds the optimal balance of product protection, sustainable materials and minimal waste.
We're proud of our role in aligning the broader packaging industry around the How2Recycle® Label. It is a voluntary, standardized labeling system that clearly communicates instructions to consumers on how to recycle packaging.
The vast majority of the primary packaging for our products is now labeled with the How2Recycle guidance. Our paperboard is either 100 percent FSC-certified or 100 percent certified post-consumer waste – or both. Additionally, nearly all packaging is made from widely recyclable materials and constructed to be easily recycled.
When possible, we seek ways to eliminate packaging altogether. We have largely eliminated the use of individual polyethylene plastic bags – commonly referred to as “polybags” – by switching to using a single “master” bag per large shipping box from the apparel factory to REI’s distribution centers. To increase packing efficiency and reduce packaging waste, we are implementing the “roll-pack” or “sushi-roll” packaging method with appropriate apparel styles. Products are loosely rolled and secured with a small twist of FSC-certified undyed paper.
With the assistance of the Outdoor Industry Association and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, REI has published sustainable packaging guidelines to encourage and educate our vendors. These guidelines support REI Co-op and Co-op Cycles, the brands we sell within our stores, and the greater outdoor and cycling industries.
How2Recycle is a standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions. It involves a coalition of forward-thinking brands that want their packaging to be recycled and are empowering consumers through smart labels. REI was one of the first brands to adopt the How2Recycle Label for our REI Co-op and Co-op Cycles product packaging. We encourage other brands and retailers to join us in this commitment.
REI is working to become a zero-waste-to-landfill organization by 2020. This aspiration drives us toward more efficient business and environmental practices as we seek ways to reduce solid waste and the costs associated with it, such as packaging, disposal and shipping. Eliminating waste is good for our business and good for the environment.
We think beyond the traditional "reduce, reuse, recycle" model to eliminate waste at the front end of the manufacturing process. And we examine and re-engineer practices attached with waste generation throughout our operations, from manufacturing to product placement in our stores, to our work with local waste utilities and haulers.
Here are a few ways we're working toward our aspiration of zero waste to landfill by 2020:
Increasing recycling and recovery options for materials in our waste stream by partnering with waste vendors and other retailers in markets around the country.
Piloting additional strategies to maximize waste diversion in a subset of stores, bringing them to scale starting in 2018.
Composting food waste and paper towels at our headquarters location.
Working with our suppliers to design out waste materials that affect our business operations.
Eliminating excess packaging, such as plastic bags destined for the landfill.
Working with the Outdoor Industry Association's Sustainable Working Group initiative to identify shared industry solutions to reduce packaging waste throughout the supply chain.
See our waste performance here.