Another Reason to Love Clif Bar: A Commitment to Eco-Conscious Packaging

Last Update: September 27, 2022

What comes to mind when you think of Clif Bar? Perhaps the thought of wholesome ingredients like creamy nut butter and organic fruit sparks a craving, or maybe it inspires you to dream up your next road trip. We’re right there with you. This iconic brand makes some of our all-time favorite snacks, but today we’re veering from what’s inside the bar, and instead, highlighting what’s on the outside.

Earlier this year, Clif Bar announced a new sustainable packaging commitment that includes support for the UK-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation. This organization is working to accelerate the global transition to what’s called a “circular economy,” which emphasizes reducing pollution and waste in supply chains, and helps keep products in use for as long as possible.

Clif Bar has been actively developing eco-conscious packaging since 2001, when the brand unveiled its first gel tear-top that folded out of the way during use. This change helped minimize plastic litter on roads and trails, and inspired the brand to develop even more innovations. Here are a few highlights.

Clif Bar’s Eco-Friendly Packaging Timeline

Clif Bar is a member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC)—a network of businesses dedicated to using sustainable materials—and has made important changes over the years that resulted in big wins for the environment.


  • Swap: Redesigned caddies (aka bar boxes) to eliminate 90 percent of shrink-wrap
  • Impact: Avoided using more than 90,000 pounds of plastic per year


  • Swap: Partnered with TerraCycle on an industry-wide energy bar wrapper recycling program to keep wrappers off hiking trails and out of landfills
  • Impact: Helped collect more than 50 million energy bar wrappers nationwide


  • Swap: Redesigned energy bar wrappers to be 10 percent smaller
  • Impact: The bar itself remained the same size, and Clif Bar used less materials


  • Swap: Started using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paperboard (sourced from responsibly managed forests or post-consumer waste) for 90 percent of caddies
  • Impact: Saved approximately 130,000 trees, 90 million gallons of water, and 15 million pounds of CO2 in 2017

2020 and Beyond

Clif Bar recently signed the Ellen MacArthur Foundation Global Commitment to help eliminate unnecessary plastic, innovate with existing plastic, and circulate items to keep them out of oceans and landfills. Joining this coalition means Clif Bar is committed to fulfilling these ambitious goals by 2025:

  • 100 percent of its packaging will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable
  • 25 percent of the plastic used in its packaging will be made with renewable or recycled materials
  • Unnecessary plastic packaging will be reduced with a goal of using 10 percent less
  • Packaging will encourage awareness and education (like the How2Recycle label)
  • 1 million pounds of plastic waste will be removed from the environment

As Clif Bar looks ahead to the next 20 years, we’ll be following along and sharing all the latest packaging innovations along the way.

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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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