To stay accountable to members, MEC has targets to divert waste, reduce water use and lower carbon emissions. Every year, we publish our performance in our Annual Report (pdf).
Being smart about packaging, shipping, and what goes in our garbage is all part of keeping waste out of the landfill.
- We cut out unnecessary packaging, limit glue, and use recyclable materials so members can recycle packaging instead it ending up in the landfill.
- When MEC-label clothes are shipped from factories, we request that they’re rolled and tied with raffia whenever possible (which works out to about 95% of shipments), instead of being shipped in plastic polybags. We’ve been doing this “sushi-roll” packaging since 2010.
- We eliminated single-use shopping bags from our stores in 2008. No single-use shopping bags means we keep about 3.4 million single-use bags out of the landfill each year.
- In 2011, we stopped producing our paper catalogue, which saves about 300,000kg of paper a year.
- We recycle scrap fabric swatches and raw material samples from our design department; they get turned into fibre for things like furniture padding and insulation.
- Twice a year, teams at MEC stores don coveralls and jump in our dumpsters to do a waste audit and find ways to improve.
The ultimate challenge? Products you buy eventually reach the end of their useful lives and get discarded. We do our best to avoid or delay that by offering repairs, donating usable products, and salvaging parts from products that can’t be donated. We also offer take-back and recycling options for things like batteries, climbing rope and bike tires. Check our store pages to see what items we accept at your local MEC.
Reducing water use
Everything from growing cotton to washing your clothes uses water, and we find ways to cut that water use down. As with most environmental impacts, our biggest water footprint is outside of our direct control: in raw materials production, in materials manufacturing, and when members do laundry.
To help reduce water use:
- We source materials with a smaller water footprint, like organically grown cotton.
- We work with textile mills that are bluesign® system partners.
- In our stores and buildings, we collect rainwater, install low-flow plumbing fixtures, and filter stormwater to conserve water use.
- For MEC-label clothes, the care labels recommend how to get your gear clean with the least impact to the environment.
Reducing energy and carbon emissions
It takes a lot of energy – and carbon emissions that go along with it – to create raw materials, turn them into products, ship them out, and operate stores. We focus our efforts on tracking and reducing our carbon emissions from our stores and offices, product transport, business travel, employee commuting, and waste. We know that this represents just a small chunk of our emissions, but it’s the part we have the most control over and the best data for.
- Our stores, offices and Distribution Centre are as energy efficient as possible, and we invest in energy efficiency upgrades as new technologies become available.
- We limit the use of air freight for overseas shipments. For shipments from our Distribution Centre to our stores, we ship by rail whenever possible to lower our carbon footprint.
- We invest in renewable energy certificates for all MEC facilities in Canada to support local clean energy from wind, low-impact hydro and landfill gas. Some stores generate energy on-site with solar panels on the roofs.
- In 2014, we started a pilot with an energy and water monitoring dashboard that displays real-time data in stores to help change behaviour.
Over time, we hope to expand our data to understand and reduce the carbon footprint of our products throughout the value chain.