prAna Becomes a Polybag Hero

Here’s a look at how prAna assessed its supply chain efforts and became more sustainable while saving money.

By Lorna Caputo November 4, 2016

Sustainability means more than recycling and using organic fibers—for prAna it means constantly improving its practices in a holistic way from start to finish. With that in mind, the company became more mindful in everything it does.

The use of polybags is considered the standard norm to protect clothing during processing and shipping. However, prAna found that the use of polybags elicited the most noise from its own employees, customers and retailers. Both retail employees and outdoor consumers hated throwing out so many plastic bags from their shipments. In fact, an analysis of their packaging showed that in 2009, the company created 13,000 pounds or 1.3 million polybags—a lot of unnecessary and unwanted waste.

The company was extremely motivated to get rid of the excess packaging, but it wasn’t an easy task. Meme Snell, men’s product developer at prAna, explained in a prAna corporate video that switching to a new packaging solution didn’t happen overnight; the company had to find a unique solution that worked well for all of its products. The thought of damaging merchandise after eliminating the polybags pushed prAna to test the impact of different solutions.

Fortunately, the results showed that by folding a garment and tying it with raffia, the product stayed in great shape during processing and delivery. To implement its new eco-friendly solution, prAna committed to educating its entire supply chain about its new packaging process. Snell commented, “We have different guidelines laid out for each type of garment to show our factory how to fold, how to get the hang tag in the right position and how to put the raffia tie on.” In 2011, the initial change saved 1,650 pounds or 250,000 polybags. Since then, prAna has been continuously working with its products and retail customers to continue reducing waste. To date, prAna has reduced its polybag use by 74 percent.

PrAna hopes its success stories will inspire and help others push the industry forward in utilizing more environmentally-friendly business practices so future generations can enjoy the outdoors that we know now and love.

Part 1: KEEN’s Supply Chain Detox

Part 3: REI Cuts Down on Fabric