REI Flash Pack 18 Life Cycle Analysis, by Emi Yasaka

REI Flash Pack 18 Life Cycle Analysis, by Emi Yasaka

For the Lifecycles and Flows class, Emi Yasaka used Sustainable Minds software to asses a hydration pack called Flash Pack 18, made by REI. The product is designed principally to transport water and a few extra items while running, cycling, hiking, and skiing long distances. REI is a company built by a group of 23 mountain climbing buddies, which is now the nation’s largest consumer cooperative. REI emphasizes passion and outdoor education; environmental responsibility and stewardship are also integrated into their core values.

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Lifecycle analysis on REI’s Flash Pack 18 reveals that the backpack has high levels of carcinogenics and a higher impact on global warming due to the high content of synthetic material and transportation distance. The main material of the pack is Nylon 6, which is a versatile synthetic material that can be formed into fibers, sheets, filaments or bristles.[1] Nylon 6 fabric is light in weight and durable; however because it is made from benzene [2], there is a generation of unwanted by-products very damaging to the environment.

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Her recommendation for the redesign is the use of alternative materials, dyeing processes, and manufacturing locations. She plans to incorporate a biomimicry framework to explore material selection and natural dying processes. REI’s core values revolve around sustainability and stewardship, so producing its private label products in socially and environmentally responsible ways align perfectly with the company’s mission and core values. Outdoor enthusiasts, who are the core customers of REI, care about environmental issues, and if given a choice, they would prefer to use a backpack made sustainably in America over a backpack with harmful agents made overseas.

[1] http://www.ehow.com/about_4708919_uses-of-nylon.html#ixzz2iYLAUlfT [2] Source: Energy Information Administration, Form EIA:848, “2002 Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey,” Form EIA-810, “Monthly Refinery Report” (for 2002) and Documentation for Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2003 (May 2005) http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/txt/ptb1204.html

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