plastic free, packaging, sustainability, retail, prana, coronavirus

Sustainable outdoor brand Prana announces its Responsible Packaging Movement with Mara Hoffman, Outerknown and Toad and Co. signing on at launch.

“We have been working on plastic-free packaging for over 10 years. We felt that now was the perfect time to join and collaborate with other brands to share our learnings and move forward together, stronger,” said Rachel Lincoln, director of sustainability, Prana.

The brand has eliminated more than 17 million poly bags from the supply chain from 2010 to 2019.

Additional support comes from nonprofit partners 5 Gyres and Canopy, which Amazon had partnered with in July to more responsibly streamline its private-label apparel sourcing. Building upon momentum already seen in plastic-free packaging, Prana will aim to eliminate plastic from its consumer packaging by 2021, sourcing from ancient and endangered forests by 2022, with virgin forest fibers phased out by 2025.

Emphasis is on the “perfect time,” in Lincoln’s words, as earlier industry plastic-free initiatives faced deep disruption at the start of the spread of the coronavirus.

In December 2019, Adidas, Kering, PVH and Fashion for Good launched its Circular Polybag Pilot, which was supposed to run for three to five months, ending in May. With the impact of the coronavirus, the ambition for a scaled, mainstream fashion industry solution remains uncertain. Although in February, a separate localized solution, the new “Polybag Collection Scheme Pilot,” was launched in the U.K. between Fashion for Good and recycling partner First Mile.

Not without its hiccups either, the program was relaunched two weeks ago.

“For many pioneering brands, manufacturers and suppliers, sustainability and innovation are of high strategic importance, and indeed if the industry is to persevere, our combined focus is needed to ensure they remain a top priority,” read a March statement from Katrin Ley, managing director of Fashion For Good.

With a diversion of shoppers to e-commerce in light of the pandemic, sustainability of packaging, shipping and fulfillment practices are in question.

“As e-commerce accelerates, retailers will shoulder much of the increased costs of packaging and deliveries and the emissions they produce,” predicted a 2017 report from Bain.

Whether in individual pledges or as signatories to popular initiatives like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy — the industry, as a whole, still lacks collective action. Brands having a leg up in plastic-free packaging innovation and solutions are aiming to round up the troops, and score a few bonus points if found successful in doing so.

Regarding transparency and public disclosures, Lincoln added: “Prana will be extremely transparent with our goals and our guidelines for the other brands who wish to join. The packaging guides are gifted to brands that decide to join the movement and will not be public.”

Those brands wishing to join the collaboration will engage with the network via webinars, roundtables and the like — while gaining access to resources like Prana’s aforementioned Responsible Packaging Guides. Consumers are invited to engage on social media using #ReshapePackaging to build awareness.

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