Did Columbia Create the World’s Most Sustainable Waterproof Breathable Jacket?

By Lyndsay McGregor
Posted on
September 7, 2016

If something looks, walks and quacks like a duck, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a duck.

Take the poly bag that global packaging and label manufacturer Avery Dennison recently created for Columbia Sportswear. Though it looks and acts like any clear poly bag used to ship new clothes to stores, it’s made from sugar cane—not petroleum—and can easily be recycled.

“I could hand it to you today and you would never know the difference,” said Helen Sahi, Avery Dennison’s senior director of sustainability.

Columbia will introduce its new OutDry Extreme Eco jacket this spring and, as the company is calling it “the ultimate sustainable waterproof breathable solution for extreme conditions,” needed an equally sustainable solution for shipping it to consumers. That’s where Avery Dennison stepped in.

“Most poly bags are typically made from virgin petroleum polyethylene,” Sahi explained, noting that the world wants to—nay, needs to—move away from that. “But you can’t get rid of poly bags without potentially ruining the garments as they’re being shipped.”

The more sustainable option the manufacturer settled on was bio-based polyethylene. In this case, sugar cane, which was converted to an ethanol, then an ethylate, then a polyethylene, before being made into a resin that looks just like a petroleum-based one and then into the film that became the bag. 

Read more on Sourcing Journal.com.