Canadian Ecomm Retailer Altitude Sports Makes Strides with Sustainability Efforts [Interview]


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Altitude Sports, an outdoor gear and clothing brand based in Montreal, is taking the lead in sustainability as it is making changes on how the company operates from its new electric delivery method to packaging.

This year, Altitude Sports has partnered with Courant Plus, the first sustainable delivery company in Montreal, as it is looking for new ways to reduce emissions. The new program is currently only available in Montreal and Alexandre Guimond, the Co-CEO of Altitude Sports, says they are hoping to deliver more than 110,000 packages every year which will avoid “approximately 45 tonnes of Greenhouse Gas in 2023”. The program was first tested last year by delivering 15,000 orders in Montreal and now over sixty percent of people in the city will be able to use the new service.

“Fully aware of the climate emergency, we continue to innovate to maintain our position as pioneers in our sector. We hope to inspire other e-commerce companies to make a significant impact towards a more sustainable economy. An appreciation for nature is part of Altitude Sports’ DNA, and it goes without saying that we must protect it. For us, that means aspiring to become a leader in sustainable e-commerce in Canada. By finding eco-responsible delivery solutions, we are taking a significant step towards achieving this version,” says Guimond.

Image: Altitude Sports

Courant Plus is using the first Ford-Transit electric vans and electric bicycles to deliver orders to people in the Montreal area, specifically in the “green zone” which covers 160 kilometers. Guimond says he decided to try this area first as it is very dense and about sixty percent of the population lives in the area. The use of bicycles will also help ease city congestion in high dense areas. Unlike large trucks, bicycles will not block sidewalk or street access, will produce no sound, no gas, and are easier to travel around the city.

Guimond also mentioned there are some streets where it does not allow traffic during certain times of the day – but do allow bikes, making it easier to deliver. The new delivery system will still come with fast delivery and will be free for orders $75 or more. The overall goal, Guimond said, is to deliver to its consumers without burning gas and will eventually take this concept to other cities such as Toronto or Vancouver.

“It is not changing the world or fixing climate change, but for us it is a big step and is strategic. We think about the people living here, it is a better experience, and we would rather see a bike delivering our products than the big truck sitting there. It makes so much sense environmentally speaking. When we were testing out the packages last year, we got amazing reviews. They said it was good, fast, accurate, and the experience for the consumer is just better than the regular carrier. So to us, it is a win – everyone appreciates it.”

Guimond says he hopes other businesses will start using the same delivery method as being sustainable, shouldn’t be a competition and is more about working together to make the world a better place for people, but should also know – Altitude Sports did it first.

Small Change, Big Impact

Image: Altitude Sports

Until last year, Guimond says they were using bubble wrap to cushion the delivery box so products don’t break during shipping. Now, Altitude Sports uses a new machine to shred them. The new machine shreds boxes that are damaged and can’t be used, protects the products the same way as bubble wrap, and has lowered costs for the brand.

“We pretty much paid off the machine in the first ten months and then it is only savings from there and it is great for the environment. Now we can shred slightly damaged boxes that we can’t reuse and use it as a filler. It made sense financially speaking and also great for the environment.”

Guimond also said they have also recently switched to paper tape and uses a machine in order to cut down waste – and so far, it has cut the amount of tape by 4100 rolls of tape. After realizing how much tape was wasted from cutting the wrong amount or throwing out tape because it got stuck together, Altitude Sports now uses paper tape and a tape machine that cuts the perfect amount needed – eliminating any excess waste.

“It is such a small thing, but because we ship so many packages it ends up to be a lot of tape. When you think about it, within a year we will not be using plastic anymore – it is amazing. The new paper tape is completely made of recycled materials and is recyclable.”

Future Plans

Image: Altitude Sports

Altitude Sports is always looking at new ways to improve its sustainability and to push themselves further every year. To motivate the team and to ensure consumers sustainability is always on their minds, Guimond says they are working hard to be B Corp-Certified where there will be a big audit where all departments at Altitude Sports will be discussed and will keep the company on its toes when it comes to sustainability.

“It is an external agency that will come and look at the GHG emission and waste management, so we will be working on this during the summer. I think it has the team super motivated and our goal is to pick up the certification next year and that is not going to be the end, it will be the beginning of a process where after that, we will have to submit every two years to show we are improving.”

Guimond says there are no physical store expansion plans happening within the next twelve months but in two years, he hopes to expand its digital platform internationally. To make this happen, over the next two years they will be perfecting its shipping, languages on the platform, and other logistics. Instead of expanding physical stores, Guimond says they will be focusing on improving the brand in terms of shipping, products, connection with consumers, and looking for ways to be more sustainable.

“It is time for action, and sometimes we overthink things and we think it is not going to be super impactful or we doubt ourselves. I think there is a way to do steps even if they are small and in a meaningful way and also a profitable one. I would like to be the leader in sustainability and sustainable commerce that is in the market and sometimes we compete against others, but also in the end, we all live on the same planet and we have to find better ways and we all have to start working together.”

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Shelby Hautala
Shelby Hautala
Shelby Hautala, based in Toronto, is a new Journalist to Retail Insider. She has experience writing for local newspapers and also internationally for Helsinki Times while she lived in Finland. Shelby holds a Bachelor of Journalism Honours degree from the University of King’s College and a Social Work degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax.


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