5 Environmental Initiatives in the Bike Industry: Trek Removes 433,600lbs of Plastic, Sustainable Manufacturing, & More
The cycling industry gets away with some pretty wasteful practices, which it often waves away under the pretense of “it’s bikes, so it’s green.” The reality is that buying less, repairing and reusing your things, and riding more locally are the best things for the earth; however, we applaud the brands that are trying to reduce their impacts on the environment too. The perfect is the enemy of the good, so it’s great to see people working towards better.

Let’s take a look at the recent announcements that move the industry forward in reducing its impact on the environment.

Trek Drops 433,600 lbs of Plastic from Packaging
Trek has announced that it has found ways to remove 433,600 lbs of plastic packaging as it reviews the process of sending out its bikes.

We reported last year the first steps Trek had taken towards removing plastic, but it now appears that they have taken this a step further and dropped an incredible amount of plastic from its supply chain. Trek currently plans to remove all plastic from its packaging by 2024 and this is a huge milestone on its journey to that goal.

A breakdown of the plastic removed shows that the Marlin, Verve and other more entry-level adult bikes have seen the biggest amount of plastic removed with 246,000 lbs. Top-level bikes like the Supercaliber have seen a smaller reduction of 40,000 lbs, but this is more likely due to a potential lower volume of these bikes being sold than fewer reductions being made in the packaging.

– 246,000 lbs removed from Marlin, Verve, and other entry-level adult bikes
– 65,400 lbs removed from electric bikes: Rail, Powerfly, Allant, and Electra Townie Go!
– 58,000 lbs removed from kid’s bikes (including Kickster, Precaliber)
– 40,000 lbs removed from Madone, Supercaliber, and other high-level adult bikes
– 12,600 lbs removed from Electra Townie 7 and 9

Looking at its current packaging, Trek wanted to find the areas featuring the highest amounts of plastic and target these first by asking what purpose it served and whether it could be simply swapped for cardboard or paper. With this idea in mind, Trek could remove the down tube, top tube, seat tube and head tube foam, and plastic wrapping.

Trek does say that it was not always easy to remove plastic from its packaging, and in some areas, it was necessary to stick with a plastic option but one that can be reused or recycled. Examples of this include replacing plastic wrapping of smaller components with reusable Ziploc bags. While Trek is ahead of most of the industry in this area, the brand is still behind Cannondale, who has already created a full cardboard packaging system with zero plastic.

Pearl Izumi Starts ‘Pedal to Zero’ Initiative to Balance Out the Impact of Garments

Pearl Izumi is publishing the stats about the number of miles needed to ride a bike, instead of driving a car, to offset the carbon impact of each of its garments.

Every garment in Pearl Izumi’s new BikeSyle Spring 2022 collection will feature the stats using the Higg Product Module to determine the amount of carbon dioxide created in the manufacturing of each garment. Using an estimate that a standard car will produce 404 grams of CO2 per mile, Pearl Izumi can then calculate how much a rider will need to use their bike to balance out the creation of their clothing.

Pearl Izumi provides the example that its Rove Short takes 5.9kg of CO2 to make and ship to the US, this would then need the rider to swap their car for the bike for 15 miles to counteract its impact on the planet.

bigquotes Our Social Purpose is to harness our business practices, products, and advocacy to consume less oil in order to fight the effects of climate change. We believe the biggest opportunity to reduce oil use through our business is to inspire and empower people to ride bikes for transportation instead of driving a car. Seeing the miles to zero number reminds you that everything we buy has an impact, and so does our daily behavior. If you love to ride, we hope it spurs you into going by bike when you can. Aaron Kutzer, social purpose lead for Pearl Izumi

bigquotes This is bigger, and more fun, than commuting. It’s about seeing the bike as a vehicle that can change the way we move around our communities. And while it’s true that you don’t need to buy new clothes to ride around town, our BikeStyle line makes it easier and more comfortable with bike-specific features and design. Off the bike, you’d never think of it as bike gear, so you can wear it every day. Andrew Hammond, brand marketing director at Pearl Izumi

The new ‘Pedal to Zero’ initiative is part of Pearl Izumi’s goal to become net positive by 2025. Back in 2018, the brand announced its target to have 90% of the clothing range be sustainable. Currently, this sits at 40% with products featuring recycled, renewable, and organic fibers.

Hutchinson Begins Using New Manufacturing Technique to Increase Sustainability of its Tires
Hutchinson has developed a new tire reinforcement technology that claims to significantly reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing.

The new technology called Gridskin uses a knitted mesh style construction providing greater tire protection. It is designed to isolate damage and prevent any sharp object from creating punctures or larger holes. Using the new tech, Hutchinson claims the processing steps in creating a tire with this level of protection is dropped from four to one. A result of the easier manufacturing is less waste and fewer emissions by using a reduced amount of plastic, rubber and electricity. Hutchinson was inspired to research new technologies as it believes “tyres account for a sizeable amount of waste from both the cycling industry during production; and by the consumer, once the tyre has reached the end of its lifetime.”

Currently, Hutchinson is offering this technology in two limited edition tires for road and gravel bikes, and they come with packaging made from recycled paper. There is no news on how this technology will be added to Hutchinson’s full tire range, but it is worth noting that while the Gridskin may extend the life of the tire and lower the impact of manufacturing, it does not solve the big issue of how to dispose of tires once they can no longer be used.

Polartec Removes PFAS in its Major Products

Polartec has revealed it is completely removing all PFAS in its DWR clothing treatments on its complete range of fabrics.

Polartec was previously among the many brands using the group of chemical substances called PFAS in the water repellent treatments used for its clothing ranges. Now, Polartec has found a way to create a DWR treatment without these dangerous chemicals and it is claimed to have zero loss of durability or water repellency.

bigquotes Trial results have exceeded our expectations. There is no loss of performance from a water repellency or durability standpoint. Mike Rose, Polartec vice-president of product development

PFAS have been referred to as “forever chemicals” because they are extremely hard to remove, and some form of PFAS can take over 1000 years to fully degrade. The family of chemicals has been known to cause harm to both humans and wildlife and currently it is believed that all PFAS ever made are still out in the environment.

Trash Free Trails Partners with Forestry England to Encourage People to Leave No Trace

bigquotes Dom, our Cycling Ranger based at Dalby Forest in Yorkshire, and Rosie, a member of Trash Free Trails’ A-TEAM, highlight the problem of single-use pollution on our trails and offer some tips on simple ways we can all make a difference and leave a positive trace.

We’re working with Trash Free Trails to raise awareness of single-use pollution, or litter, on our forest trails to inspire everyone to help us to tackle this widespread issue that impacts wildlife and can remain in the environment forever.

Forestry England

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