As long as the company continues to keep doing better, I would confidently rate it at three full planets. The amount of thought that Pela put into being sustainable would put me at ease in purchasing any of their products. However, I hope that the company provides more transparency for consumers on their processes. There are a number of competitors in mind who have similar efforts, and may surpass Pela if they do not keep improving.
The Pela Case is made of Flaxstic™, which uses flax straw sourced from Kelowna, Canada. It is entirely plastic-free, plant-based, and packaged in 100% recycled and recyclable paper. They also use the minimal amount of packaging to deliver phone cases in one piece.
The phone case is also 100% compostable. One can either toss it into an industrial compost bin or a home compost pile. Consumers may also send old Pela Cases back to be recycled into new Pela products. This is a great option for those who are unable to compost.
Since the phone case has a 90-day warranty (which they call their “Happiness Guarantee”) but are designed to last the lifetime of a phone (usually 2 years). I personally experienced this when my sisters and I bought iPhone XR cases for our new phones in August of 2019. Two of us bought a Pela case, while one sister chose a conventional phone case from Amazon. Almost a year later, both Pela cases are still in great condition. The conventional phone case, however, started breaking within 6 months. My sister has since then switched to a Pela case. Our phones have also stayed in great condition, despite our accidental drops. It does not feel like we were sacrificing the protection of our precious phones for the sake of being eco-friendly.
On top of the effectiveness of the phone cases, their sustainable efforts make them even better. A portion of each sale is donated to efforts that prevent plastic from entering oceans. Considering all of this (and what’s to come in this review), I believe the phone case is worth every dollar!
All products are manufactured in Canada and Hong Kong. Pela proudly shares that they produce cases in small batches in order to avoid overstock. While it looks like it solves the issue of wasted flax straw, there needs to be more research on the consequences of processing flax into Flaxstic. The sourcing and manufacturing processes combined, however, have lower carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions than conventional plastic. Regardless, Pela is Climate Neutral Certified, as it offsets all of its carbon emissions.
Not only is the company making efforts to be sustainable, but it is also maintaining transparency with consumers. In their 2020 Reduction Plan, they mention three main goals: (1) improving transportation by building distribution centers in Canada and Europe, (2) further promoting the Pela 360 Program, and (3) shifting to renewable power sources and improving operational efficiency where needed. Currently, Pela cases are distributed from the company’s shipping facilities in Utah and Kentucky, USA. The additional distribution centers would reduce the excess carbon emissions from delivering materials and products. The Pela 360 Program could potentially save tons of plastic from entering oceans, if advertised enough. A Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) report from 2019 inspired Pela’s third goal. According to the LCA report, most of the company’s emissions came from the manufacturing of phone cases in China. The recommendation of switching to renewable power sources is satisfyingly reflected in the 2020 Reduction Plan. Already, Pela has moved its Canadian operations from Saskatchewan to Kelowna, British Columbia, where renewable hydroelectric sources are more abundant. The company has clearly taken sustainability very seriously, doing their best to be as sustainable as possible. I, because of this, would rate the company at 3 planets.
Pela Case was developed and manufactured by Open Mind Developments (OMD). Aside from its Climate Neutral Certification, the company also holds membership with 1% for the Planet since 2016. Just for 2020, 1% for the Planet certified Pela’s donations to Carbonfund.org, MedShare, Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and Climate Neutral. OMD has been a Certified B Corporation since September of 2019. Certified B Corps are businesses primarily aimed at making a positive impact on the world. Pela has an overall B Impact Score of 80.3, which is 29.4 higher than the average business who completed the B Impact Assessment.
Pela’s four core values of community, creativity, consciousness, and courage have been highly reflected in their products, reports, and certifications. In particular, their consciousness of the environment appear genuine. While I researched this company and product, I reached out asking various questions about their processes, and was always met with friendly service and clear answers. Most of the information was available, although it took a little bit of digging to verify which information was most up-to-date. Though I focused on the classic Pela phone case, the company has since invented many other products including AirPods cases, Smart Watch bands, and sunglasses. Despite the fact that Pela case is the first compostable phone case, the company has really set the bar high and continues to scale their impact.