We recently watched an unboxing video by someone who received a Frontier Stove from us and we were struck by how much plastic there was in the packaging. Although our boxes are designed to use cardboard as much as possible (recycled cardboard end pieces hold the stove in place, smaller cardboard boxes to hold extras like the ash tray), it's not plastic free: from the plastic bag that protects the stove paint from scratching before it's cured, to the bubble wrap used for extras and accessories, we've definitely got work to do.
We've been working on sourcing new options for our packaging, testing out different materials and reaching out to you, our community of environmentally-minded adventurers, for help.
Some substitutions are easy: for smaller bits and pieces, like multi tools and coal shovels, the bubblewrap used can be replaced with recycled paper. They're not fragile and the packaging really just needs to stop them knocking around when they're being couriered.
The paper will also replace the plastic bags in our Frontier and Frontier Plus boxes that protect the stove's paint before it's cured. The real challenge is our larger stoves: they need really good padding where they fit into the boxes they're shipped in, or they move around and can be damaged if they're not handled carefully.
We had some great suggestions from you on Facebook: coconut fibers that could be used as firestarters, shredding office paper and using it as filler (we've started rolling that one out already!). We're still on the lookout for solutions for our bigger and heavier products, so if you've got any great ideas - or even crazy ones - we'd love to hear them.
10 billion square metres of tape
We're also getting rid of all the plastic tape that we use and replacing it with paper tape. Over 10 billion square metres of plastic tape is produced globally per year - which is a lot of plastic for something that's thrown away as soon as it's served its purpose. Plastic tape is non-recyclable, non-biodegradable and is made from petroleum, which is a non-renewable fossil fuel. So, to remedy this, we're replacing the plastic tape we currently use: once we've used up the tape we have we'll be sealing all of our packaging and boxes with paper tape. It seems like a tiny drop in the ocean, but if every company did this, that figure of 10 billion square metres of plastic all destined for landfill would start to shrink pretty quickly.
Thoughts so far
What we're finding as we push on with this process is that everything is always more complicated that it first seems! While it would be great - and so satisfying - to throw out all the plastic packaging we use and instantly replace it with recycled, biodegradable options, it's not going to work that way. We have to phase out the old solutions to replace them with the new, otherwise we're just throwing away perfectly good packaging, which is even more wasteful.
There's a balance that needs to be reached: we want everything to be recyclable but we also need to ensure that every product we send out arrives to its new owner in absolute perfect condition. We know that the perfect solutions are out there: it's just a matter of finding, testing and trialling them before we roll them out full-scale.
We've also been looking at ways we can reduce the amount we waste in other areas: while going through some old stock we came across some great, sturdy drawstring bags made from recycled tyres that were originally designed for the Horizon Stove. Instead of leaving them gathering dust or worse, throwing them away (not likely - we would have found a use for them one way or another!) we decided to pass them on to you, so they can be given a new life carrying fuel or wetsuits or picnic provisions or whatever else goes with you on your adventures. We're sending them out with every Frontier and Frontier Plus ordered through the website and we've got a few left, so if you'd like to get your hands on one just add the bag to your basket and use code 'adventurefuel' when you check out.