MSR (Mountain Safety Research) has been setting a high standard in top-performing outdoor equipment since 1969; product lines include stoves, fuel, cookware, water treatment and hydration systems, shelters, snowshoes, snow tools and backcountry poles. The majority are made in the company’s Seattle, U.S.A. and Cork, Ireland manufacturing facilities.
This month, it released its 2019 Manufacturing & Social Responsibility Report which is an interesting complement to the outdoor industry focus on apparel-oriented brands. As an annual summary of what is described as ‘the brand’s responsible actions to date and approach to leave a positive handprint on the world for the future’, it details MSR’s long-term commitment to protect the resources on which its business and the outdoors depend.
That comprehensive commitment embraces environmental sustainability, responsible manufacturing, outdoor industry leadership, community and conservation, global health plus employee programs and benefits. Product longevity and repair are key factors along with indicators for practical action by other brands, retailers and individuals.
Doug Sanders, VP of MSR, noted, “Responsible manufacturing and environmental sustainability have been at MSR’s core since we were founded in 1969, and as this year’s report highlights, we continue to make advancements in these areas. To this day, we are still committed to building durable, long-lasting gear so that excess resources aren’t used to replace it.”
Highlights and milestones emphasised in the report include:
Product Durability, Care, and Repair: MSR’s priority is to design and manufacture durable, long-lasting products. The majority of MSR products are repairable by customers in the field or service staff at its Seattle Repair Shop, helping to keep gear in the field and out of landfills; increasingly, it repairs more gear than it replaces.
Fuel Canister Recycling Program: In an effort to increase the number of empty fuel canisters that are properly recycled, MSR launched a fuel canister recycling program at its Seattle headquarters repair shop in 2018, offering the greater Seattle community a location where any brand of backpacking fuel canisters can be dropped off for recycling. Visitors who recycle fuel canisters can purchase new canisters at the shop for 20% off.
Life Cycle Assessment: A new life cycle assessment of MSR’s Lightning Ascent Snowshoes, conducted in partnership with Yale University, revealed that snowshoes built of the exact same materials but made in China would contribute an estimated 77% more CO2e emissions than those made by MSR in the USA.
MSR Impact Project: Launched in 2018, MSR’s Impact Project is a non-profit fund that accelerates the work MSR and its partners have been doing since the inception of MSR’s Global Health work, improving access to innovative technologies that advance global health and improve quality of life around the globe. To date, MSR has made safe drinking water a reality for more than half a million people in developing communities worldwide.
Product Packaging: While MSR relies on packaging to deliver products safely to its customers, the company continues to implement minimalist packaging solutions to reduce packaging material use when possible; all products made in the USA are packaged in materials sourced from local suppliers.
Made in Market: The majority of MSR’s products are designed, engineered, tested, and/or manufactured in-house at the Seattle factory headquarters. Domestic production provides hundreds of jobs in Seattle, USA, Reno, USA, and Midleton, Ireland. MSR adheres to strict standards surrounding water and waste disposal and manufacturing practices, as outlined in its Manufacturing Code of Conduct – see the Report.
Outdoor Industry Leadership: MSR strives to be a leader in the outdoor industry and was a founding member of the Outdoor Industry Association Sustainability Working Group’s Higg Index – the outdoor industry’s first suite of sustainability measurement tools. MSR was one of the first hard-good brands to use the Index to examine its practices, including material traceability, chemical management, social responsibility and other core competencies.