Inside Kapten & Son

Kapten & Son x Sustainability – Together for our future

We all know that our earth urgently needs help and that we are facing massive environmental problems. We as a company also have a great responsibility in this respect and must therefore choose the right actions. It is not our intention to say we are perfect, but we are constantly working to make the greatest possible progress in economic, ecological and social terms. That is why we want to take you on a journey today: from the production of our products to the delivery to your home, we want to make the steps transparent and show you how we try to make a positive contribution.

Where Everything Began – The Idea

As early as the product design stage, we attach great importance to sustainability. We believe well thought-out designs and high-quality materials should not only offer you a high degree of functionality, but also be so resilient that our products will accompany you on your adventures for a long time.

The Choice of Materials – How do we use our resources?

Let’s get to probably the most important and most interesting point for you: our materials. Since the quality of our products and our environment, with its limited resources, play a major role for us, we select our raw materials according to strict criteria.

On the one hand, our backpacks are made of polyurethane (PU), which you might also know as “Vegan Tech Material”. In contrast to the plastic polyvinyl chloride, PU does not contain chemical softeners, is durable and even water-repellent.

We have also switched to recycled polyester (rPET), as this means no new resources and about 59% less energy is needed in production – and all this for the same quality. We can obtain this raw material from cleaned PET bottles or even your old clothes. Only two of our backpack models, the Lund “Olive Green” and “All Black,” contain a small amount of tarpaulin and canvas, for which we are currently looking for sustainable alternatives.

For the majority of our sunglasses, prescription and computer glasses we use acetate – the bioplastic made of cellulose which has a lot to offer. Not only does it belong to the renewable and recyclable raw materials, but it is also very light and flexible to adapt to your needs. In comparison, the metal in our glasses does not cut so well, which we are of course completely aware of. However, we unfortunately had to realize that we have not yet found a comparable material with the light, robust and heat-resistant properties of metal that is even remotely as durable. So there is definitely room for improvement here.

So, you see all in all, our products are not only durable, but also our materials are of the highest quality!

The First Stop – Our Production Site

The majority of our products are manufactured in Shenzhen near Hong Kong. Now some of you might think: “Hm, China? Is that so sustainable,” because of the negatively connotated reputation of which “Made in China” unfortunately precedes the products. But we can answer “YES” with a clear conscience. Shenzhen is one of the most progressive and innovative cities when it comes to sustainability. Many young and creative people work there to produce high-quality products while adhering to ethical and moral standards. And we have even set up our own glazing facility for our prescription glasses in our adopted city of Cologne. Here we can quickly and regionally adjust your prescription glasses for you at any time.

But Wait – What are the working conditions in production?

Of course, in production it is important to ensure that everything on site is in order. That’s why employees from our product design and purchasing teams travel to Shenzhen on a regular basis to ensure that everything is running smoothly. In addition, external organizations carry out so-called ethical audits for us. These are production visits during which the areas of hygiene, safety, health, waste management, child labor, salaries, working atmosphere and working hours are reviewed and checked whether all standards are adhered to. This way we can promise you a safe production despite the distance of our production site.

We are also improving our recycling and disposal processes of leftover material so that we can help to produce less waste.

From China to Your Home – The Transport

Our production site in Asia naturally entails long transport distances, which is a major environmental burden. In 2019 we have managed to carry 90% of the transport by train. However, due to the unpredictable demand for some products, we unfortunately had to transport parts by plane, and this is where we see our potential for improvement in the future, as transport by train emits 40% less CO2. As far as packaging is concerned, we work according to the motto ‘Refuse and Reduce’. To reduce unnecessary packaging, we have gotten rid of using plastic bags and switched to a reusable cotton bag. In the future we plan to protect our glasses with a glasses cleaning cloth instead of plastic.

The last step in our transport chain is the delivery to your home. Here we rely on collective storage and transport service providers to make the delivery as efficient as possible. The majority of our shipments are climate-neutrally shipped by DHL GoGreen, which compensates the CO2 emission of the shipment by donations to a climate organization. In addition, you may have asked yourself why returns have to be registered with us first and why you should cover the return costs. At first glance, this sounds like a complicated and costly process. However, we would like to raise the awareness of delivery routes and thus minimize the return routes. In addition, we save a lot of paper by not including the return label in every single package, because it produces unnecessary waste if not used. In the long term, we are striving to find a solution by opening our own stores to further minimize and simplify returns and delivery routes.

We hope that our blog post has provided you with a little more transparency. For the future, we have set ourselves some goals in terms of sustainability and look forward to it positively and hopefully influencing our business. And we believe that together we can make a difference and hope that you will join us!

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