Green credentials?

In the conclusion of a four-part series, James Smith speaks to two industry professionals to explore the cycle trade’s attitude towards ethical and environmental considerations

Craig Middleton, sales manager, Pinpoint
Middleton has been working in the cycling industry since 2010, launching his own brand, Onix Bikes. He sold Onix in 2012 before taking on roles at Nrg4 and Limar, eventually joining Pinpoint in February 2019.

What efforts has Limar made in consideration of its environmental impact?
Limar recently removed plastic bags from its cardboard boxes and no longer offers plastic bags at consumer shows. Although the brand has made efforts to reduce its impact, the ‘EPS’ plastic moulding used to make its helmets, along with most other manufacturers, is not easily recyclable.

Do you think customers care?
In five years with Limar, Middleton was approached by just one consumer asking about the environmental impacts of the brand. This lack of environmental consideration is similarly replicated in the trade arena.

What evidence do you think the industry will need to make changes?
The industry will respond as other manufacturers begin to release environmentally-friendly products, but this will not change within the next five years. However, the industry can respond quickly when this does happen.

Russell Harrison, sales manager, Velotech Services
Harrison has been working with Velotech Services since 2011. The distributor deals with various brands, including Madrid-based Rotor and bearings brand C-Bear.

What efforts has Rotor made in consideration of its environmental impact?
At Eurobike, Rotor stated that it would be reducing the plastic in its packaging.

Do you think customers care?
Harrison says he has not been approached by any customers that are concerned with the ethical or environmental impacts of their purchases.
However, he does get asked where the products are manufactured. This is, in his opinion, due to customers believing that European-manufactured
products are of a higher quality than their Chinese counterparts.

What evidence do you think the industry will need to make changes?
The industry will not respond until legislation forces changes on it, or if customers use their wallets to demand change. At the moment, there is no sign of that happening.

The conclusion from the perspective of the cycling industry
The research surrounding this four-part series discovered that although the environment is very high on the agenda in the broadcasting, print and radio media, it is not high on the agenda within the cycling industry. This is precisely because the cycling consumer is not showing any purchasing concerns, whether that be through buying habits or through conscious questioning of the retailer before making a purchase.

As Middleton pointed out, only once in five years has he ever been questioned about Limar’s environmental and ethical credentials. This was backed up by Harrison; in eight years, he has never been asked about the environmental or ethical credentials of Rotor. He has, however, been asked about manufacturing location, and this again reflects on the importance of the perceived brand quality.

The conclusion from the perspective of the cycling consumer
In this research, cycling has been proven to be environmentally-friendly compared to car, train, bus or air travel. However, although the cycling consumer is perceived to be environmentally aware due to their choice of transport, they are not consciously considering their environmental impact before making purchases.

This fact is supported in the research, as the survey shows only 6% of respondents always consider the environment before making a purchase, and only 8% consider the ethical impacts of their investments within the cycling sphere. However, over 30% still consider the perceived brand quality of a product before purchasing. This sample data is reflected in the industry responses; the cycling consumer is much more concerned about quality, brand and price than they are about protecting the environment.

The conclusion from the author
These interviews highlight a disconnect between the mainstream media, consumers and manufacturers. It seems that although ethical and environmental concerns are in the mind of the consumer, it really does not play out when it comes to purchasing. This may be changing, but as Middleton says, we may be five years away – at least – from seeing this becoming equal to brand or quality considerations.

Throughout the research, it has become clear that, regardless of the media coverage on the environment and corporate ethical responsibilities, until customers demand change by ensuring they are purchasing from environmentally-aware organisations, these corporations will not make any serious efforts to improve their environmental and or ethical credentials.

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