Yearly retired out of doors gear leads to a landfill. For a lot of the out of doors stuff we use, that is inevitable—recycling gear on the finish of its life will be troublesome when it’s made out of many various supplies, a few of which might’t be saved from the landfill. So it was no small feat when tenting model NEMO lately debuted the first-ever absolutely recyclable iteration of its best-selling sleeping bag, the Forte.  

This new Forte is the primary product obtainable in NEMO’s new Limitless Promise sequence, a line of substances reimagined to be recyclable. Its launch marks an essential step towards the model’s dedication to chop its emissions depth in half by 2030. “Any product within the Limitless Promise sequence has a vetted pathway for restore, resell, recommerce, takeback and recycling while you actually can’t maintain it on the market anymore,” says Theresa McKenney, director of sustainability at NEMO.  

In fact, “recyclable” doesn’t imply you may simply toss your bag into the weekly bins together with your soda cans. So, what are you able to do? Learn on for a more in-depth have a look at the rethought Forte bag, the changes that make it recyclable and the way the Limitless Promise sequence is paving the best way for a much less wasteful future.  

What’s the issue with sleeping baggage? 

For hundreds of years, pioneers, explorers, and native tribes used sleeping baggage constructed from wool-lined sheepskin or reindeer fur. However whereas these animal-based creations saved folks heat, they had been heavy and ponderous—which wouldn’t precisely please the trendy camper. In 1930, people invented nylon—the primary absolutely artificial fiber—and tenting perpetually modified.  

At the moment, most sleeping bag shells are made out of nylon or polyester. These manufactured fibers are quick-drying, light-weight, and inexpensive, all whereas remaining breathable. Nevertheless, they arrive at an environmental price, as they’re petroleum-derived, which means their manufacturing depends on the fossil-fuel business.  

Artificial fibers are additionally not biodegradable. When your bag reaches the top of its life and also you toss it within the rubbish, it heads to a landfill the place it sits … and sits … and sits some extra. It sits within the landfill indefinitely, all of the whereas emitting greenhouse methane gasses into the environment and leaching dyes into our water and soil. 

Plastic is nice at what it does, says McKenney. However its efficiency advantages come at a price. 

A camper shakes out a tent fly.

What’s the expertise behind the redesigned NEMO Forte? 

4 years after it was based, NEMO started taking steps to reduce its environmental footprint in 2006 by eliminating a major element of plastic, PVCs (or polyvinyl chloride, some sorts of which might pose dangers to human well being and the surroundings) from its merchandise. In 2018, the model shifted its method to the filling that goes in sleeping bag shells by incorporating hydrophobic down with out using PFAS, dangerous “perpetually chemical compounds” discovered in lots of waterproof and “nonstick” merchandise. However these adjustments weren’t sufficient—and NEMO knew it. NEMO started utilizing recycled polyester in 2009, and the design crew knew it was a step ahead to keep away from counting on virgin petroleum. However the ensuing sleeping baggage nonetheless confronted the identical end-of-life points as a result of they couldn’t be additional recycled into new ones. NEMO wanted to determine the right way to create a system the place your entire product could possibly be recycled. 

“We would have liked to take possession of the supplies through the use of this wealth of stuff that’s already on the market,” says McKenney.  

That’s when the oldsters at NEMO started contemplating thermomechanical recycling, a course of that includes grinding and pulverizing a textile, melting it down and extruding fibers that can be utilized to make a special product. Whereas many manufacturers use polyester derived from recycled plastic bottles (bottle-to-fiber recycling), NEMO opted for fiber-to-fiber thermomechanical recycling to remodel one textile into one other. “It embodies true circularity,” says Patrick McCluskey, chief engineer of product sustainability at NEMO. 

Analysis groups at NEMO additionally realized that polyester is probably the most recycled polymer on the planet. Why? Due to its sturdiness inside the recycling course of. This was excellent news for the model, which makes use of polyester in lots of its merchandise, from sleeping pads to camp chairs.  

However there was a catch. Solely single-material textiles will be efficiently recycled. Within the twenty first century, it’s uncommon {that a} textile product is made utilizing only one materials. For instance, yoga pants are sometimes a comfy mix of polyester and elastane. 

For building and efficiency, this isn’t an issue. However two polymers can’t be simply separated into completely different waste streams, making recycling inconceivable for blended supplies.  

NEMO went again to the drafting board, redesigning the best-selling artificial sleeping bag, the Forte, from only one materials: polyester. (The zipper slider is the one characteristic not constructed from polyester. These items can be eliminated and recycled individually.)  

This wasn’t a simple course of. A typical sleeping bag could embody anyplace from 10 to15 completely different polymers. NEMO cycled by way of 15 completely different sleeping bag designs earlier than selecting the ultimate product. The model even needed to discover new suppliers and create its personal {hardware}. 

“Each element of the supplies going into the product must be scrutinized, all the way down to the ending remedies utilized to the materials and each piece of trim and label that’s included,” explains McCluskey. “A variety of the supplies on the earlier Forte sleeping bag wanted to get replaced or up to date to allow recycling, so we would have liked to seek out new materials, elements, cords and webbing.”  

The model efficiently labored out the kinks, finally partnering with US-based Unifi, a textile producer specializing in recycled supplies, for his or her thermomechanical recycling.  

“Working by way of all these small particulars allowed us to take the recycling of the Forte Limitless Promise from idea to actuality,” says McCluskey. 

Now, NEMO has a sleeping bag that may be absolutely recycled when the time comes. 

How do you recycle your Limitless Promise merchandise? 

The solutions to your questions on recycling your NEMO Forte are proper contained in the bag itself. And are there options to recycling in case your bag nonetheless has a couple of tenting journeys left in it? Once more, the within of your NEMO Forte has the reply.  

Whenever you unzip your new Limitless Promise Forte you’ll discover a QR code: That is your password for any future transactions. If you happen to use the bag for years and end up with a couple of tears or rips, no huge deal. Scan that code for directions to get in contact with the NEMO restore program, so you will get your sleeping bag fastened and again exterior. 

Sooner or later you could determine you’d like a brand new sleeping bag, however you understand your Forte has some life left in it. NEMO has a plan for that, too. NEMO clients can return their gently used gear for potential resale by way of a partnership with Trove. (Or you may commerce it in by way of REI Co-op’s ReSupply program.) Not solely will your gear go on to a brand new residence the place it would proceed to be liked, however you’ll additionally get a NEMO present card for the exchanged worth. Simply scan that very same QR code to learn to commerce in your sleeping bag.  

“Limitless Promise gives providers which have the mandatory ranges structured in for holding the product in use for so long as doable,” says Rachel McQueen, an affiliate professor who makes a speciality of textile science and sustainability on the College of Alberta. “Resale retains the product in use as the identical product it was initially designed to be.” 

Ultimately, the Forte sleeping bag received’t have any repairs or resale worth left; that’s when it’s time to recycle it. Once more, use your QR code to start out the method, letting NEMO know you’re able to recycle the ‘bag. NEMO will ship you a free return delivery label so you may pack up your sleeping bag, give it a kiss goodbye and ship it again to the model. Upon receipt, NEMO will guarantee all elements go to the correct location for recycling. As a thanks for doing all your half to maintain waste out of landfills, NEMO will ship you a $20 present card. 

“It’s an incentive to make it worthwhile for the patron to return the product again to the corporate, so the corporate can take again management of finish of-life,” says McQueen. “As a result of as soon as a model sells an merchandise, they will’t assure that will probably be recycled at its end-of-life until they handle that a part of the lifecycle as nicely.” 

This simple, QR code system is intentional. NEMO is aware of the recycling course of wanted to be easy and structured for it to be efficient. The model additionally is aware of that recycling ought to be the final resort; the aim is to maintain its sleeping baggage in use for so long as doable. 

“The Limitless Promise line is a giant deal. It’s all the time nice to seek out manufacturers like them which are creating one of these textile product with their lifecycle administration system in-built,” says McQueen. 

NEMO plans so as to add to its Limitless Promise line in 2024 with the discharge of the Vantage and Resolve day packs, in addition to three sleeping baggage: the redesigned Disco and Riff Spoon-shape baggage and the brand new Coda mummy-shaped bag. 



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