Search Report
2022 Sustainability Report
published 2023/08/01

Packing problem: single-use plastics

At VAUDE, we strive to make our packaging more environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, we cannot completely get by without plastics.

The plastic bag problem

Plastic bags – they’re everywhere. In order to keep our products safe and clean until they reach your favorite store or your doorstep by post, our products have to be packed. There is currently no real alternative to this kind of plastic.

Single-use products waste resources

As with all single-use products, the biggest problem is not the valuable, highly functional, resource-intensive plastic material itself, but the fact that it is only used once for a short period of time. 95 % of all plastic packaging is neither recycled nor reused. What a waste! Even though the EU already bans individual single-use plastic products, packaging has not yet been affected.

Protection from damage is essential

Above all, the problem is transparent polybags. Every single product is packed in one:

  • to protect it from moisture, mold and damage during transport
  • because the shipping companies and warehouse logistics need them for bar code labels, etc.
  • because many dealers demand them from us in order to protect the product during their processes and to simplify things

At the moment, we can’t just eliminate them – that’s the unfortunate reality.

Plastic packaging made from recycled materials

If we can't get by without polybags, we at least want to use ones made from recycled materials. This conserves fossil resources and reduces plastic waste as well as climate-damaging emissions.

That's why we are working to transition all our plastic packaging to recycled materials.

Our new plastic packaging (polybag) is made from post-consumer recycled materials. This has brought us much closer to a completely closed-loop system for raw materials and enabled us to reduce the carbon footprint of our packaging. To ensure this, the new polybags are RCS or GRS certified. 

VAUDE Earthbags from recycled materials

Nevertheless, we are still trying to cut down on the use of plastic or reduce the size of our plastic bags where possible. To do this, we have tried folding products differently or rolling them so that we can use smaller bags. The results are sometimes less than satisfactory – many products come out very wrinkled. Would this be a problem for you? We welcome your feedback – just use the "Write us" link on this page!

Big problem for the textile industry

We know that the entire textile industry has a big problem here, and we all have to pull together to solve it – packaging manufacturers, outdoor brands, wholesalers and retailers, logistics partners and you as the consumer.

VAUDE is therefore working under the umbrella of the European Outdoor Group together with other brands and retailers to find alternatives to plastic bags made of disposable plastic. This is not just a matter of replacing one material with another. Rather, our goal is to think about packaging solutions in a completely new way and to change the single-use packaging system. We will continue to report on this here.

You can find the project website here where you will also find the newly developed Polybag Standard, which sets out best practice specifications for polybags. Our goal is that all of our polybags will fall into the "green" category.

And what about biodegradable packaging?

Are bags made from corn or potato starch a solution? No!

On the recommendation of the Federal Environment Agency, we do not use "compostable" plastics for disposable items such as packaging. Although these are theoretically biodegradable, they don’t actually decompose under normal conditions but only under industrial composting conditions at high temperatures and without an oxygen supply.

They are also problematic for compost or biogas production. In most cases, they decompose much more slowly than organic waste and end up causing blockages at conventional biogas plants where they have to be carefully removed from the compost and disposed of. This makes neither ecological nor economic sense.

They don't belong in plastic trash either. Since they are made of organic materials, they cannot be recycled. Here, too, they end up in residual waste.

Even the production of bioplastics isn’t environmentally friendlier. With the current state of technology, they require even more energy to produce than new plastics. Bioplastics are therefore only suitable for long-life products, not for disposable packaging.

We are therefore convinced that plastic packaging with the highest possible proportion of recycled material is currently the most environmentally friendly solution.

You can read about the conflicts and problems here

32 % of all plastic packaging ends up in the environment - primarily in Asia

Europe and North America generate more plastic waste overall, but in large areas of Asia, it often ends up unchecked in the sea due to a lack of regulated waste disposal. VAUDE is supporting the WWF in establishing a waste management system in the Mekong Delta model.
Troy Mayne, WWF
Troy Mayne, WWF

The production of plastic worldwide has increased twentyfold in the last 50 years. Of the approximately 80 million tons of plastic packaging worldwide, an alarming 32 % ends up in the environment – by far the most in Asia. What is simply missing here is a regulated waste disposal system in which plastics are collected and sensibly recycled – even if only as fuel for electricity or heat generation. 

VAUDE supports a large model project of the WWF, which is developing a waste management system in the ecologically particularly valuable Vietnamese Mekong Delta. The aim is not only to free the environment from the vast amounts of plastic, but also to raise awareness among politicians and the population. On the one hand, the threat posed by waste to the livelihoods of humans and animals and, on the other, the economic potential associated with the collection, sorting and recycling of plastics.

We are raising awareness of the problem among our suppliers in Asia, network them with the WWF in the project area, with the aim of increasing their contribution to concrete local solutions for the collection and recycling of plastics. More about the project here

Even the plastic industry has recognized the problem and is on its way to contributing to a solution.

Packaging at VAUDE: guidelines and amounts

Since 2014, VAUDE has had its own packaging guidelines for suppliers with clear instructions for maximum size, materials allowed and mandatory labeling that enables us to sort and recycle the packaging.

These guidelines are a component of our purchasing contract and are mandatory for all VAUDE products. We monitor adherence with random testing at our warehouse. We are currently in the process of revising the guidelines. Our goal is to work with our suppliers to make unavoidable packaging as environmentally friendly as possible.

The VAUDE Packaging Guidelines are available for download here.


In 2021, VAUDE exceeded this “de minimis limit” from the Packaging Act for the first time and has therefore prepared a declaration of completeness for all packaging placed on the market in Germany. We also provided a completeness check for packaging placed on the market in 2022. This has been audited and approved by an auditor.

Packaging is divided into transport packaging and sales packaging. Sales packaging is packaging that is disposed of by you, the end customer. This includes, for example, the hangtags attached to the product or the plastic packaging in which your product is wrapped when you order it online and have it delivered to your home.

Transport packaging, on the other hand, includes all other packaging elements: shipping cartons and strapping bands, but also the plastic packaging that is disposed of by the retailer (for example, when they unpack the product before displaying it in their store). In the following graphs you can see how much transport packaging and sales packaging we put on the market.


Annual comparison Transport packagaing

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Natural materials

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You can see that our sales packaging volumes have increased. This is due to the fact that we have grown strongly in recent years and are selling more products, but also to the fact that we have improved our data and are continuing to work on improving data quality.

In particular, our volumes of paper/cardboard packaging have increased. The reason for this is the transition to cardboard packaging for the bags we produce in our Manufactory.


Wanted: new inspiration

The best packaging is that which we simply don’t use. If it were only as easy as it sounds... If you have any ideas, please share them with us! Just use the contact link on this page.

We have already long done away with plastic shopping bags in VAUDE stores. If you really need something to carry your purchases in, you can buy a paper bag.

WWF Packaging Recommendations

  • Avoid plastic packaging, plastic bags and single-use items. Put your garbage where it belongs.
  • Don’t use toothpaste and cosmetics with microplastic beads.
  • Become informed about the toxins in plastics and avoid products made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and PC (polycarbonate).

More information directly from the WWF can be found here.

GRI:   301-1
Materials used by weight or volume
GRI:   301-2
Recycled input materials used
GRI:   301-3
Reclaimed products and their packaging materials
Plastic reduction in the outdoor industry
Single Use Plastics Project Read more
EU bans single use plastic
(German) Read more
WWF Global Plastic Navigator
Read more
Plastic Atlas of Heinrich Böll Foundation
Read more
The new plastics economy
Read more
Recycled Claim Standard
Read more
WWF Mekong Delta Project
(German) Read more
WWF Project Mitigating Marine Plastic Debris in Viet
Read more
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