According to Outerknown over 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year. If you’ve traveled to a developing part of the world and seen rivers clogged and beaches blanketed in plastic washed ashore from elsewhere, you’re already deeply aware of this issue. Outerknown (OK) asserts that out recycling system for plastic is broken, and in response has taken a giant leap toward eliminating plastic bags from their global supply network. Eliminating plastic has been a top priority for OK since the very beginning, and their partnership with Vela™ marks a huge step forward for the brand.
“Partnering with Vela™ on the first ever FSC® certified tissue bag for garments is another innovative win for both Outerknown and the ocean. Outerknown is deeply committed to eliminating the use of virgin plastic and ensuring we keep it out of our oceans.” – Kelly Slater, Co-Founder & 11x World Champion Surfer
Plastic “polybags” are traditionally used across the fashion industry to transport products between factories and warehouses, the most common culprit being a #4 low-density, polyethylene, virgin plastic film bag. They might keep a product safe momentarily, but they are extremely hard to recycle and often end up in landfill or the environment, where they break down into microplastics. An estimated 180 billion polybags are produced every year for the fashion industry, and less than 15% are gathered for recycling. If we continue down this path, by 2050, there will be more plastic in our ocean than fish (by weight). So OK are changing course.
“Outerknown is committed to becoming a fully circular brand by 2030, which includes the advancement of circular packaging solutions. As a first step, we will eliminate plastic packaging from our operations by replacing all polybags with Vela™ bags. We will continue to reduce our use of virgin forest fibers and increase our use of recycled content across our packaging. The vast majority of our packaging is already made from at least 90% recycled paper, and while these are steps in the right direction, we recognize we have more work to do!” – Megan Stoneburner, Director of Sustainability & Sourcing
After relentlessly exploring alternatives, Outerknown finally found a sustainable and scalable solution that they’re proud to pioneer. The company has already begun working with their factories to one-by-one transition to Vela™ paper bags, which are FSC® certified, carbon neutral, and more widely recyclable than plastic. By next fall, 100% of OK suppliers will transition to paper bags, which they hope will make it easier for other brands to make the switch too. Ditching plastic bags is not the end-all solution, but coupled with new packaging (made from 90% recycled paper) and hangtags (made from 100% PCW paper), Outerknown are making some measurable progress toward circularity.
But Outerknown are not on this journey alone having joined Prana’s Responsible Packaging Movement to drive greater change alongside a collective of leading brands that are also committed to eliminating single-use plastic from their packaging. The approaches are all different, but share a common goal: to protect this planet and make polybags a thing of the past.
More on Outerknown’s 2030 Roadmap: Our Commitment to Circularity HERE