About the company

This company, based in Colorado, sells their products at specialty retail outlet throughout the U.S. as well as through their e-tailers listed on their website.They make a range of items, from technical backpacks, day packs, travel storage systems, luggage, camera bags and so on. They state that they have a long history of innovation – more than 30 years – and that in recent times this has involved a strong emphasis on considering ways to reduce ecological impacts.

The cornerstone of this work is a series of backpacks where the main fabric is made of recycled plastic.

My summary

The company has clearly been a leader in driving the uptake of recycled materials across a wide range of it’s product line (rather than just having a single or very limited ‘eco’ line available. According to Luke Boldman, product line manager for Mountainsmith, it is possible that “70-80% of (their) line will be available in recycled PET within the next 5 years”. This shows considerable commitment on environmental grounds. Without having details on their attempts to ensure fair working conditions, I don’t feel confident about making a rating.

category: un rated

Sustainability criteria:

  • reporting framework: how does the company benchmark what it does/ reports? Does it use one of the international accredited systems

no information at present

  • information on resources used – recycled materials, use of renewable materials, etc

The company began offering recycled products in Spring 2006.

“For 2010, the major story from Mountainsmith, a 30 year pioneer in the outdoor industry, is a complete new line-up of technical adult backpacks that utilize 100% PET recycled fabric”.

“Mountainsmith developed the industry’s first recycled PET fabric for use in packs. The plastic bottles used in the recycling process come from all over Asia including Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea. Those are the countries that have taken the financial initiative to utilize plastic bottles for recycling into fabric. The bottles are processed, cleaned and converted to flakes before being shipped from these countries to Taiwan. That is where Mountainsmith’s ReDura™ yarn (polyethylene teraphthalate, aka PET) is woven and then coated with protective polyurethane to further increase the material’s overall strength and durability”.

ReDura is the Mountainsmith tradename for recycled PET fabrics and yarn developed by its Taiwanese textile supplier, HoYu Textile Co. Ltd.

“There is no question that recycling plastic bottles has the potential to play a role that will lead to less reliance on petroleum resources. Other benefits include increased employment in the recycling industry and lessened impact on landfills”.

The company estimates that at present 39% of their product line “now contains recycled polyester or other eco-minded material”

The ReDura™ PET fabric is coated with a bluesign® approved water-based Polyurethane (PU) coating.  The independent bluesign standard is a guarantee that the new recycled fabric only contains components that are harmless both to people and to the environment.  Swiss-based bluesign technologies is one of the most recognisable third-party eco-auditors in the world.

  • energy consumption & carbon dioxide emissions
  • distance travelled
  • waste generated

Obviously, one of the intentions of using recycled material is to reduce the waste going in to land fill.
“In the U.S. alone, plastic bottles account for roughly 20% of solid waste and nearly two-thirds of all bottles produced end up in landfills”

  • water consumption
  • working conditions

No information available

  • other environmental claims or benefits

“Mountainsmith supports many non-profit organizations, athletes, photographers, and other locally operated organizations” in Colorado. Details here.

  • details on who stocks the item/ where to find it/ where to get further information

For general information

For details on purchase

[thanks to Nuts from the Bushwalk Tasmania forum for suggesting this company, who makes the sound point about online rather than in store sales: “I often wonder that to be truly ‘green’ these companies should ship direct from their manufacturers. Going via another country seems a waste…”.

Rams Head Range, Snowy Mountains, NSW


One Response to Mountainsmith

  1. sceptic person says:

    Mixing recycled polyester with polyurethane is sustainable??? Please tell me how this can (ever?) be recycled and what emissions are released when this ‘eco fabric’ is incinerated (most likely)…

    [note from Cam:

    yes, a good question, and one I can’t answer. If its a serious question then why not ask the company? I would be very interested in the response.

    re your ‘incineration’ question. I suppose it depends on where you are and how waste is treated, but generally if any fabric is thrown in the rubbish it would tend to go to landfill rather than being incinerated – at least here in Australia.]

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