How can we cycle towards a greener future? Alex Trimnell, Muc-Off

Cycling in itself is a very green option, but the industry still causes plenty of carbon footprint, be it from events, packaging or factory running. BikeBiz reached out to the industry to investigate what more we can be doing to protect our planet.

Today, we hear from Alex Trimnell, managing director, Muc-Off.

What is your take on the current state of sustainability in cycling?
Our industry depends on the natural world as our playground and our feeling is that the majority of our partners from brand partners to distributors and suppliers to dealers are looking for and actioning ways to reduce their carbon footprint impact. Our feeling is that the majority of the bicycle sector recognises that in order for us to thrive, we need to preserve our surroundings and ensure that cyclists are able to enjoy out of the great outdoors now and in the future.

What is Muc-Off doing to reduce carbon footprint?
As a key brand in the cycling community, we have taken it upon ourselves to increase our focus on our environmental responsibilities. It’s important to note that this focus isn’t something new for us either, our flagship Nano Cleaner which we originally brought out way back in 1994 has always been biodegradable. We are far from perfect and have a long way to go which is why we are very close to launching our ‘Project Green’ initiative in early 2020, more details coming very soon! But in the meantime, we have identified a set of short term ‘quick wins’, here’s a list of what we have done so far:

– PTFE free
We removed PTFEs (Polytetrafluoroethylene) from all our products and formulas. PTFEs can cause serious harm to wildlife when they drain into water sources, so developing alternatives to this was a big focus for Muc-Off, and we’re delighted to say our whole range is now PTFE free!

– Biodegradable
We strive to ensure that as many of our products are naturally broken down as possible without compromising product effectiveness. Our flagship Nano Cleaner is biodegradable as is our best-selling drivetrain cleaner. Last year, we made changes to the ingredients of our M094 protection spray so that it’s now completely biodegradable too. So now our whole clean, protect and lube process can be completed using bio formulations. Over 40 of our products are currently biodegradable and we are always working towards increasing this number when launching new products and by making changes to existing product ingredients.

– Refill and reuse
We continue to push awareness around our Nano Cleaner refill and concentrate programme, encouraging users to reuse their plastic bottles from home when it comes to cleaning their bike with the leading brand! Using our concentrates saves almost nine times more plastic vs buying a new one-litre bottle of our bike wash. It’s also worth noting that the triggers on our bottles are very high quality and durable and have been specced specifically so that the bottle can be reused up to 13 times.

We are also about to launch re-fill stations for IBD’s where consumers will be able to easily top-up their bottles of Nano Bike Cleaner instore; this will save on shipping CO2 and reduce plastics – we calculate this will divert over six tonnes of plastic (which is over 54,000 1 litre plastic Nano Cleaner bottles) from landfill within three years!

– Less plastic
We take reducing plastic throughout our supply chain very seriously, below are some key actions from this year so far:

– All orders are now shipped with shredded cardboard made from old shipping cartons instead of bubble wrap for protection.
– We’ve changed all of our event bags (20,000+) to paper, not plastic, making recycling way easier when you’re at home.
– We are changing more of our retail packaging to sustainable alternatives
– Our new Drivetrain cleaner bottles are being retooled to remove their plastic over-sleeve. A small change, but an important one saving 330kg of plastic (and shipping weight) annually.
– Our office has moved to a plastic bottle-free zone, with filtered cold water taps now being the only way to get hydrated!

– Carbon positive sealant
We commissioned a C02 impact report into our No Punctures Tubeless Sealant and found that because it’s so easily washed out with water and leaves no residue that it is in fact carbon positive versus using inner tubes!

How can the industry collaborate to facilitate change?
There are lots of ways that the industry can facilitate change from suppliers working with manufacturers, manufacturers with distributors and distributors with dealers to look at ways of reducing and reusing shipping packaging and better backing to avoid wasted space.

One thing that’s done well in Germany that other countries could look at is the bike industry getting together and setting up professional lobby groups in their respective countries to ensure our sector has a voice in national political decisions around investments into cycling infrastructures, e-bike legislation etc.

What steps can IBDs take to reduce their carbon emissions?
We’ve recently developed an Eco Parts Washer which uses natural enzymes and bioremediation to clean the dirtiest of parts rapidly using the power of nature. This has been aimed at helping IBDs and workshops in the UK reduce their hazardous waste and reduce energy use. As mentioned in an earlier answer, we are about to launch refill stations where consumers will be able to easily top-up their bottles of Nano Bike Cleaner; this will save on shipping CO2 and divert around 54,000 plastic Muc-Off Nano Cleaner bottles from landfill over the next three years. A lot of our products are already refillable; from our sealant pouches to our lubes. Moving forward, we will be supporting our dealers more to help offer re-filling services as a way to help reduce their carbon emissions across our range.

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