The workbag reinvented: turning the tide on plastic

The North Face’s Rodey Pack

Every year, it is estimated that one trillion single use plastic bags are used worldwide each year. But what are brands within the printwear market doing to combat this? Mark Dix, sales director of The Outdoors Company, fills us in on what premium outdoor brands are doing to help.

Q. How has the war on plastic affected the humble promotional bag?

A. Over recent years, premium brands like Patagonia, The North Face and Eastpak have made significant changes to the manufacturing processes of their bags, turning the tide on the use of plastics by reducing single-use polymers in their products.

For example, Patagonia’s Arbor Classic Pack 25 – a popular choice of workbag – is made from 100% recycled and solution-dyed polyester. In fact, Patagonia was the very first outdoor clothing manufacturer to adopt fleece into their product line made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic drinks bottles way back in 1993.

Patagonia states on its website: “Using recycled polyester lessens our dependence on petroleum as a source of raw materials. It curbs discards, thereby prolonging landfill life and reducing toxic emissions from incinerators. It helps to promote new recycling streams for polyester clothing that is no longer wearable.”

Q. Have you seen an increase in sales as a result of the war on plastic?

A. We’ve seen an increase in sales of bags for the workplace from premium brands The North Face and also Eastpak – a brand synonymous on the continent with the high quality, fashionable bag for everyday activities. Eastpak offers a 30-year standard warranty on all their bags, reinforcing their confidence in the quality, durability and longevity of their bags for everyday adventures, mitigating the need to replace bags year on year.

Businesses now want great quality, great-looking bags for promotional and eventing purposes that actually last and that staff will want to wear both in work and out. Kitting staff and partners out with bags from premium brands who are recognised for their environmentally and socially-conscious manufacturing methods serves to meet, in part, CSR objectives, and let everyone know that they’re a company who care about our planet. And personalising premium brand bags with a company’s unique logo is a way of aligning one’s mission and ethos with those of these premium brands, turning employees into walking advertisements.

Q. Has the design of the bag changed during this time?

A. Coinciding with war on plastic, the rise of the workbag from premium outdoor brands who commit to using recycled fabrics and environmentally and socially conscious manufacturing methods has informed design.

Backpacks, messenger bags and duffels are all popular choices for commuting, business travel and eventing. The design of these bags has evolved to include more versatile compartments to accommodate the devices and gadgets we all rely on for work each day. The Jester and Vault Packs from The North Face – two of our best-selling bags in the corporate sector – feature padded laptop sleeves in the main compartment to protect devices from bumps and falls, whilst the fleece-lined pocket of the Rodey Pack, also from The North Face, is a nice little addition designed to keep your smartphone safe.

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