Gekko Bicycle Lights – Email from Manufacturers


In reply to my email about Gekko, having too much packaging, here is their reply:-

“Thanks for your email and giving us the right of reply to your article.

We have identified some time ago that as a bicycle company we needed to take proactive steps towards sustainability. But understanding this is a complex issue as is the work required to achieve this outcome – I thought the issue deserved a very specific response and hence handed over your question to one of our top Industrial Designers Paul to cover off. Following is his response and some detailed information on our packaging:

…………………………………………………

Currently (2007-2008):
– The light packaging for the Gekko (and our other lights in a similar price point) use this style of packaging you are referring to which includes:
o Clear PET plastic clamshell – approximately 13grams, vacuum formed from 0.35mm sheet. This is 100% recyclable.
o 300gsm cardboard outer box with a matt cellosheen polymer coating, with a small number of adhesive tabs. This is 100% recyclable (although more challenging)
o 50gsm uncoated instruction sheet. This is 100% recyclable.
o PVC battery contact insulator tab

– This style of packaging was developed in 2007 as a means of updating the previous packaging (which used predominantly PVC materials in its construction, hence was difficult to recycle) and consolidating our packaging presence at point of sale as well as providing a more simple solution for shipping.
– Noted: A number of improvements can be made within the current packaging embodiment immediately to reduce the environmental footprint of the packaging:
o Add a recycling logo and code embossed detail on the PET clamshell to identify plastic type
o Change PVC battery contact tab to PET (100% recyclable.)
o Look at changing the cardboard type to an uncoated stock (100% recyclable.)

2009 Packaging Update Program:
– We are already in the process of assessing this packaging (and infact all our new products and packaging, and existing products where feasible) in terms of an overall Life Cycle Analysis. This process is very detailed and is something that we as a company are still learning a great deal about. The Life Cycle analysis will enable us to determine which are the critical aspects of the product from ‘cradle to grave’ which is basically broken into 5 stages: raw materials, manufacturing, all phases of transport, usage and disposal.
– The main aim of our 2009 packaging modifications are to:
o move ALL of our clear plastic clamshells in this style of light packaging to a material called PLA. This is a corn starch based bio polymer that is 100% biodegradable in soil through hydrolysis and microbial action and is also recyclable through many other methods.
o move to an uncoated card material for the outer packaging to make this 100% recyclable
o replace current synthetic printing inks to vegetable inks
– We are working with our supplier now to obtain samples of these for internal testing etc. Our decision to move forward with any or all of this will be based on any change in cost, structural integrity after drop testing and visual comparison to existing packaging. If we find these changes will significantly affect the current packaging form, we may aim to move to a modified version of the existing packaging.
– At this stage we do not intend to have a ‘return’ policy on our packaging (as our lifecycle analysis already points to shipping being a huge resource consumption factor) but rather will focus on reducing the footprint of the packaging instead so it can be recycled through commonly accessible channels.

Some other notes:
– As I mentioned before, it’s important to assess packaging as a component of a full product life cycle. In the case of our lights, these are designed to last for many many years, and the packaging component is only a small part of this life cycle. Think of any PET drink bottle (generally around 20-30grams), which is purchased, consumed and disposed of almost immediately. We don’t treat the above example as a ‘get out of jail free card’ but needs to be considered as this issue of packaging waste is often over-simplified and mis-represented.
– Supplying the product with no packaging, while ideal in terms of waste reduction, is really not feasible for any commercial supply chain process. There are many stages of handling in getting from the production line to the consumer so the packaging needs to both protect the product in transit, having a strong and memorable shelf presence when placed in a retail situation next to a myriad of competitor products, and provide sufficient shop-soiling/tamper resistance.
– We are certainly aware of the need to reduce our footprint in the packaging component of our product and don’t at all assume that no cyclist will complain – we are all cyclists here too and have raised this issue internally!

…………………………………………………

I hope the information above has shed some more light on the situation from Knog’s viewpoint – it’s certainly an issue that we’re not taking lightly. In fact we are now working on a series of green lights for launch in 2010. So on both product development and packaging reduction and recyclability we would encourage you to check back with us in 6 months or so and see how we are progressing with rolling out these changes.

We would appreciate if you could post this reply on your blog as our response.

Cheers

Paul Daniel
Industrial Designer

Michael Lelliott
Brand Director

KNOG
p. +61 3 94286352
m. +61 402 797 030
http://www.knog.com.au

Level 1, 252 Church Street
Richmond 3121
AUSTRALIA

– Show quoted text –

On 30/10/2008, at 11:29 PM, Eva C wrote:

As a green cyclist I noticed that your company has loads of plastic and other packaging on your Gekko products. I am writing an article for a cycling site about cycling products that are green. Would you have any comments as to why your company uses a lot of packaging. Do you sell products without packaging? If customers are not happy with this policy, they can send it back to you so you can dispose of it.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards
Eva

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