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Packaging and Transport


Our goal is to ensure minimal waste is created with our packaging. This means we are constantly looking for ways to design more efficient packaging using recycled materials, and making sure it is recyclable after it has been used.

Shipping Boxes:
Our transport packaging specifications are designed to minimize packaging materials. We specify that our manufacturing partners use “single wall” cartons instead “double wall” cartons, thereby reducing the packaging material required for product shipments by almost 30 percent.

In 2015 we revamped our global polybag dimensions to better align them with product folding dimensions and switched to thinner polybags. Together, these changes will reduce the materials used to make our polybags by an estimated 10% annually.

Our hangtags are made of paper containing 55-65% recycled content, printed with soy-based inks, and finished with an environmentally friendly water-based finish.

Retail Bags:
We redesigned our retail bags to be made with 80% post-consumer recycled paper. These bags are reusable, 100% recyclable and include a message on the bag encouraging reuse.

Japan Reusable Retail Bags:
Our Japan retail bags are made from materials left over from the production of our outerwear products. Using left over materials provides a productive post-industrial use for these materials and gives consumers a durable bag that can be reused many, many times.

Hanger Reuse:
We buy reused hangers for our retail stores. Buying reused hangers versus traditional hangers saves valuable material and greenhouse gasses.

Ecommerce Packaging:
When online shoppers reach checkout at any of our ecommerce websites, they can choose to have their order shipped in a previously-used cardboard box. In 2014, approximately 41% of all Columbia brand orders were shipped in reused boxes!

We ship the remainder of ecommerce orders in polybags containing 25% post-industrial recycled content that are reusable and recyclable.


We seek to optimize and reduce environmental impacts associated with transporting our products from the countries where they are manufactured to our customers.

Container Optimization:
Over the past years, we have increased the efficiency of product shipments by optimizing how containers are loaded and packed. Higher container utilization reduces the number of containers required, thereby reducing carbon emissions and our overall carbon impact. In 2013, we reduced fiber usage by approximately 400 tons and eliminated approximately 750 containers through reduced carton volume and improved container utilization, compared to 2012.

Transport Partner Selection:
Our standard RFP for U.S. ground transportation services asks prospective providers to share information about their sustainability practices, among other quantitative and qualitative criteria used to evaluate vendors during the selection processes.

For example, we require all of our U.S. transportation providers to be members of SmartWay or to maintain a comparable environmental certification. We ask about the age of their fleet, to what degree they have adopted alternative fuels such as LNG and biodiesel, and for quantitative measures of their environmental impact such as fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. We have language in our RFP seeking disclosures about providers’ efforts to avoid high-impact fuels, such as those from Canada’s Tar Sands.

By including these topics in our standard RFP, we hope to raise mutual awareness of environmental hazards and sustainable best practices, and to promote constructive discussions with our providers about making continuous improvement on these important issues.