Getting to Zero: Primus

Roxy Harbitter, a member of the Elevation Outdoors Magazine Road Team, is highlighting companies that are putting in the extra effort to get closer to carbon neutral. Welcome to Getting to Zero. 

After speaking with Per Wååg, the general manager at Primus, it was clear Primus is doing much more behind the scenes in support of sustainability. They are humbly implementing sustainability practices because it’s the right thing to do, not because ‘going green’ will get them more customers. I’m a fan of ‘greenwashing’ when it’s getting out accurate information to customers looking to make an informed decision. While Primus isn’t making their green practices known far and wide, they are putting in the effort. I will be reaching for Primus gas and recommending their products after learning what they’re doing to keep Primus products and practices sustainable. 


Sustainability Efforts

Carbon Offsetting

Primus is a company built around supplying high-quality stoves and fuel to outdoor consumers. By nature, they are already facing difficulties because their product is based around the use of fossil fuel. To counteract this, Primus purchases carbon shares, similar to what the Live Outside and Play Tour is doing. Primus is carbon offsetting for the actual fuel sold and for the production of the canister. Because they are a larger company, they can focus their efforts directly to a specific project (recently reforestation in Canada and clean fires in Africa).


Creative Solutions

Primus has been experimenting with cutting down on shipping, one of the biggest environmental upsetters for production. They recently changed their design slightly on their stove system so the pots nest in themselves. That allowed for six systems to be shipped in what used to be the space for one. 

They have also been working on designs for their stove and fuel to make them more efficient. In a normal stove system, it takes 11,000 BTUs to boil water in three minutes. The Primus system takes 8,000 BTUs to boil water in three minutes and 30 seconds and uses half the amount of fuel. A more efficient fuel canister combined with a cohesive system leads to less waste. This is how the PrimeTech Stove Set is designed.


Product Longevity

Product longevity is a huge emphasis for Primus, and something Per and I spoke about for a long time. Primus is striving to create lifetime products that you can service and maintain. Longer usage means less material in the landfill. Because Primus can’t sell their product three times if the person is using it for a lifetime, they are focusing on quality and hoping consumers build brand loyalty. The emphasis was having a beaten up product you could pass down to your children full of stories, instead of a shiny new one that might only last a year or two. 


Office Culture

Per revealed that new hires were interested in Primus because of their sustainability initiatives, and similarly for investors. Every year they complete a Global Reporting Initiative. Every flight, every commute, every expense report, and every ambassador trip is calculated and documented to see what their carbon footprint is and how they can improve in the years to come. They are just entering a new ‘five-year-plan’ cycle where sustainability initiatives are a focus. 

The Challenges

Cost. Carbon offsetting all their fuel and manufacturing pushes their total production cost higher than competitors production cost. It also makes the product a few cents more on the shelves of retailers. When an uninformed consumer is looking at that shelf of fuel, they might grab the cheapest one. The goal is foresight and research. Go for the fuel that’s a few cents more expensive, and share the cost of carbon offsetting with Primus. 


Primetech Stove Set – The Specs


Durability and functionality are Primus’s pillars. This system isn’t going to break, and it’s going to keep on chugging for years to come. The parts are simple, fit together, and build off each other. I love that I can rely on this product to do its job in the backcountry. With this pot, the possibilities of menu options in the backcountry grow exponentially. More options, less waste, higher quality food. The cover that the stove comes in acts as a warmer so you can make rice and noodles easily. When working in cold climates, the gas performs well and lasts longer. Less in the land fill, more power!

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If you haven’t used a stove system like this, it will take a little getting used to. It’s difficult to twist on the gas initially, and it’s slightly bulky to take backpacking. Water does take longer to boil, but you can boil far more because the pot is larger than most backcountry setups. With a little practice, this stove set up performs wonderfully. 

Roxy lives in a van full time and travels around the country writing and photographing for Elevation Outdoors Magazine and Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. She is working toward #plasticfree, #zerowaste and getting to carbon neutral while living gently on the road. She is trying to make a small impact on the world, and a larger one in the communities around her.

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