Cycling is often at the centre of sustainable travel initiatives, with the effects of rising carbon emissions and climate change becoming increasingly worrying every day. But how green is the trade itself? BikeBiz hears from more businesses about what they’re doing to be more environmentally-friendly.
Today, we hear from Rob Akam, managing director, Reid Bikes
What is your take on the current state of sustainability in the cycling industry?
Overall, we’d say that the cycling industry is slightly ahead of the curve in sustainability practices than some other industries. Most of us live and breathe the outdoors, it’s why we’re involved in bikes and this passion for the outdoors trickles down into sustainability practices in our industry more than it does others.
You see a couple of the largest brands with 100% recyclable packaging now and many others striving for it, along with tree planting initiatives, carbon offsetting and a general stance that we should all be paying attention to sustainability and actively working towards being carbon neutral.
However, there is still much more that can be done for our industry, and much of this is with production processes more than packaging, a challenge we’re continuously working towards.
What strategies do you have in place regarding sustainability?
At the start of 2020 we launched our #buyoneplantone initiative as part of our environmental pledge, where we plant a tree for every bike, e-scooter or watersport we sell in partnership with industry leader edenprojects.org. Since partnering with them, we have planted over 125,000 trees, helping to sustain the environments that we love to ride in.
We have also taken an active role in pursuing the use of 100% recyclable packing and are currently at around 95% recyclable with our bikes. With the hire of a new product manager [earlier this year], we hope to be able to bring this up to 100% in 2022.
We’ve also taken the steps that every business can do easily; offsetting carbon on shipments and flights, digitalising internal forms to reduce paper waste and recycling appropriate office waste that can be recycled. We are also vetting our production partners to ensure they use the most environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes possible.
What more can the industry be doing to be more environmentally friendly, and why is this important?
It’s important that all businesses strive to do more in this space, as without dramatic action, we will all risk losing the environments we love to ride in. Industry-wide, we should be having more open discussions and sharing positive environmental processes with each other to make sure all brands can be as environmentally-friendly as possible, even those without massive R&D departments.
We still consider ourselves a small brand in the global scheme of things, manufacturing around 200,000 bikes in 2021, yet we still put time and resource into being as ‘climate conscious’ as possible in everything we do.
Brands and businesses need to also be more open in their processes. If a brand has moved to 100% recyclable packaging, or are manufacturing in a new greener way, they should be transparent and share how they did it with others to make our whole industry greener. Even share your suppliers and a structure for how others can do the same. We will happily do this once we are at 100% recyclable packaging and finalise some manufacturing process improvements. If we’re all in this together, then nothing is impossible.
How concerned do you think customers are about making environmental purchases?
[Customers are] very concerned and we believe it’s vital that it stays this way, as without the media spotlight and consumer concern, there just isn’t the business and profit incentive for boards of directors for the largest multinationals (not bike industry-specific) to take action and accountability. It’s definitely a primary factor that Gen Z considers when making a purchase in any industry, lot’s of research has been done on this that is widely available.
It also plays a part in my personal purchases, for myself and my family too. We’ve also had a lot of feedback from retailers and Gen Z customers alike mentioning how our #buyoneplantone environmental pledge is a key factor in the purchasing decision for our products.
However it’s not just a concern raised during purchasing, we’ve hired lots of new staff in the past year and all of them without exception have mentioned our environmental pledge in their first interview. It’s great to see an uptake in people vetting businesses, not only that they purchase from but work for to ensure that they are doing their part for the environment and we believe this will help drive more businesses to do more in this space.