We suggest some initial answers in this long read from the BA: Cycling’s green reputation – time to step up?
Also, a Guardian article titled "Why aren’t more big bike firms tracking their environmental impact?" (September 2021) illustrates the growing media profile of this issue, and summarises many of the main issues clearly.
If you want to do more to become a sustainable business but don't know where to start, this short article is for you. It will point you to key resources to help you on your journey to less impact..
First, outdoor clothing company Patagonia has published a really useful small book called "The Responsible Company". Available as a ca. £18 book from Patagonia or as an audiobook. We would recommend the hard copy to access the 25 pages of checklists that you can work through to understand what you might already be doing and what you might want to consider doing next.
Then, take a look at the UK Government's new SME Climate Hub - this is an excellent resource for all things sustainable. It's a good place to go once you've gone through Patagonia's checklists and you have some idea of where you want to start making changes.
You will see on the SME Climate Hub that B-Corp gets mentioned a lot. They are an internationally recognised sustainability programme and provide an extensive suite of tools for businesses, including a free Impact Assessment that anyone can use. Independent certification is available if you wish to be accredited.
Neither the Patagonia nor B-Corp checklists require you to be a sustainability expert and are designed so that you can work through them at your own pace. Start there, and you'll have a much better idea of how to go about making your company meaningfully more sustainable.
The Competition and Market Authority in September 2021 published a "Green Claims Code" alongside more detailed official guidance about how companies should make advertising claims about environmental or sustainability matters.
In essence, they require that claims be meaningful, accurate and verifiable, and it will be advisable for cycle industry companies to review this guidance as they develop and publicise their sustainability programmes.
- Sustainability and the cycling industry: Hutchinson (BikeBiz)
- Sustainability and the cycling industry: Muc-Off (BikeBiz)
- Sustainability and the cycling industry: Continental (BikeBiz)
- Sustainability and the cycling industry: VAAST Bikes (BikeBiz)
- Sustainability and the cycling industry: Endura (BikeBiz)
(and many more reports on company initiatives can be found in the BikeBiz archive under the "sustainability" tag)
After this year's BA Members' Meeting, we have had a few questions about how to get started measuring impact, Life Cycle Analysis, and particularly measuring impact in scope 3.
We want to use this section to provide helpful links to information and valuable tools that might help you get started.
First, have a look at our quick read called "How to get started in business sustainability”
There are some very accessible resources listed there, as well as some good online resources you can use as a guide to get started.
Then, Marc Snelson (TREK) mentioned the following online resource during the conference:
And, I also reached out to Erik Bronsvoort, the author of From marginal gains to a circular revolution (https://circularcycling.nl/), who mentioned both https://sustainabill.de and https://www.2030calculator.com as resources worth checking.
As we get more resources recommended, we will add them here, so check back from time to time...
March 2022: European cycle industry launches a sustainable packaging commitment
70+ companies, including many Bicycle Association members, have already pledged to reduce plastic packaging waste in the supply chain.
European cycle trade bodies Cycling Industries Europe (CIE) and the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI) have launched an industry-wide commitment to reduce plastic packaging and eliminate unnecessary packaging from the supply chain. The pledge has been signed by ca 70 founding companies, and a number of trade associations including the BA, and others are invited to follow suit.
Full details are below, or watch our video briefing:
The Cycling Industry Sustainable Packaging Commitment
- Sharing and endorsing the common vision for more circular and sustainable packaging solutions with your supply chain partners
- Working with supply chain partners to reduce problematic plastic packaging and eliminate unnecessary packaging within your supply chain by 2025
- Working with supply chain partners to ensure that all supply chain packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025
- Working with supply chain partners to increase recycled content within packaging materials by 2025
- Creating customer / retail facing packaging commitments, which align with or exceed the common vision by 2025
- Sharing progress and update with the wider cycling industry through the CONEBI / CIE Sustainability working group forum
Kevin Mayne, CEO of CIE, said:
Cycling is at the core of the mobility transition, making sure Europe is cleaner, greener and more liveable. The way our industry operates has to meet the same high ambitions, so we need to be at the forefront of a sustainable industrial sector. CIE and CONEBI have set an ambitious agenda to tackle important industry-wide challenges and to initiate pioneering initiatives and actions across the supply chain, this packaging initiative is the first of many ways we will act to reduce our environmental impact.
Manuel Marsilio, General Manager of CONEBI, said:
Our Industry Sustainability Programme puts the concept of cooperation within the industry at the centre of a wide strategy that is both in line and reinforces the European Green Deal. What we see today is that a growing number of companies are ready to take their CSR actions to ambitious heights, proactively engage in the ongoing Green transition and Circular Economy, shaping them with a forward-looking mindset.
While customer and retail facing packaging provide companies the creative opportunity to design packaging solutions, which reflect their own values and sustainability ambitions, this only accounts for a proportion of our industry-wide packaging waste. Our complex, global and often shared supply chains also create significant amounts of packaging which can be often overlooked.
Cycling industries are uniting behind a shared vision of creating a circular economy for packaging, contributing to the European Commission’s goal for a new circular economy. This vision covers all packaging material. For plastic specifically, it is inspired by and closely aligned with the vision of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s ‘New Plastics Economy Initiative’, also adopted in the ‘Global Commitment’ led by the Foundation in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme. This vision is also endorsed by US based People For Bikes.
December 2021: Thinking outside the box
‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is a common phrase, and indeed it would seem that the cycle industry has lived by it so far as packaging is concerned.
A bike box is a bike box. Packaging goes down the supply chain from manufacturer to retailer, and eventually, a consumer tears up an enormous box and tries to cram it in their recycling bin (hopefully).
Yes, cardboard costs money, but it’s about the cheapest option out there.
But with covid, rising freight and cardboard costs and a supply chain that’s in disarray, it would appear something is broken and now needs fixing.
In this episode, we talk with Sigma Sports, TREK, ZyroFisher and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to explore the problems, actions, opportunities and support available for those wishing to transition from linear to more sustainable circular models of packaging.
September 2021: How the government clamping down on greenwash is a good thing for cycling
The recent Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) press release signals that the government is getting tough on greenwashing, giving businesses until the New Year to ensure their green claims are accurate and verifiable.
In their immediate sights are textiles and fashion, travel and transport and fast-moving consumer goods – that means many Bicycle Association members potentially face scrutiny under one or more of the government’s priority business areas.
With the preliminary results from the recent Bicycle Association census suggesting that nearly a quarter of surveyed members saw ‘fear of getting wrong’ as a barrier to sustainability, the government’s hard stance might be perceived as a backward step, actually discouraging businesses from talking about sustainability and taking some action.
In reality, this crackdown is not simply levelling the playing field but fundamentally establishing the game’s rules. In many ways, the guesswork is being eliminated, and we’re stepping out of sustainability’s wild west where bold but unsubstantiated claims and, dare I say it, a fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude could run amok.
So this isn’t just a shot across the bows for Bicycle Association Members. There is a helpful online guide to checking your green claims and ensuring any future green claims are meaningful. Fuller and more detailed official guidance is here. There’s also this brief video explainer:
So, if fear of getting wrong has been stopping you from getting going, take a look at the guidance and take your first step to a greener tomorrow.
September 2021: We interview BA member company and clothing specialist Rapha’s sustainability lead to discover how they are driving sustainability in their business – and how others in the cycle industry can learn from their experience. A special edition BA podcast:
June 2021: UK Government launches UK Business Climate Hub where SMEs can self-commit to climate actions
August 2020: Cycling’s green reputation – time to step up? A ‘long read’ from the BA’s sustainability lead, Alec Seaman, covering key issues as the industry tackles the issue of environmental responsibility.