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 speaks to six brands to find out what they’re doing to be more environmentally friendly. Today, we hear from Darren Tabone, VP of product, MAAP
What is your take on the current state of sustainability in the cycling industry?
When considering cycling as a whole, much of the emphasis is placed on the hugely impactful environmental benefits of choosing more sustainable means of transport. However, this often overlooks all of the production, raw material processing and shipping which goes into manufacturing and distributing the latest carbon, aluminium or rubber components, and yes, the synthetic fibres used to create cycling apparel.
Whilst it has been an unavoidable conversation in the broader fashion industry for some time, the cycling apparel industry has been a little more tentative in adopting a sustainability first approach. We’ve seen some great examples of limited run products or components made from recycled materials in the past but these are often brands dipping a toe into the water to see if the demand is there, meanwhile continuing to produce less sustainable products alongside.
Sustainability shouldn’t be an afterthought for the cycling industry or even a response to consumer demand – rather, brands should be leading the discourse and encouraging consumers to make more responsible choices. One of MAAP’s founding principles is to leave a better planet than the one we inherit and we hope to see more brands adopt a similar stance from inception.
What strategies do you have in place regarding sustainability?
MAAP is the first cycling apparel brand to become a Bluesign System partner. Bluesign’s independent and thorough verification takes a holistic approach to assessing sustainability, calculating the environmental impact of the entire process from raw material to finished product. This ensures the lowest possible impact on people and the environment.
For MAAP, it involves sourcing materials from Bluesign approved suppliers, minimising shipping, utilising responsible manufacturing processes and using recyclable, biodegradable or compostable packaging.
Many of our printed fabrics such as those in our pro jerseys consist of fibres which are 100% post-consumer polyester and up to 65% pre-consumer sustainable premium elastane recycled from industrial waste. We also utilise the most environmentally friendly dyeing and finishing processes available.
Conscious that much of the waste from the textile industry occurs post-consumer, much of our fabrics are pre-dyed and woven rather than knitted, to ensure longevity and extend the usable lifetime of the product, wash after wash.
Aside from the materials and processes, MAAP is taking steps to ensure that, as a company, we make responsible decisions. When our latest Women’s Flow Pro jerseys made their way to print with an extra “e” in “jeresey” visible on the back, we were faced with choices like – hoping no one noticed, destroying the stock and sending it to landfill, or owning our mistake, communicating it to our customers and making a commitment that positively impacts the environment. We chose the latter.
Finally, our new Off-Cuts programme endeavours to make use of excess fabrics from previous production runs, repurposing them into new limited edition multicoloured styles. Whilst in its infancy, we hope that Off-Cuts will allow us to further reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing, keeping scrap to an absolute minimum.
What more can the industry be doing to be more environmentally friendly, and why is this important?
The Bluesign System partnership process allowed all of us at MAAP to dig deeper into what sustainability truly means, fully analysing every function of the organisation to minimise our environmental impact in every way possible – whilst maintaining exceptional quality.
We’d like to encourage every brand to explore what’s involved in achieving Bluesign verification as it’s an all-inclusive framework which not only sets an environmental standard to aim for but also an ethical benchmark for employment, safety standards and consumer protection.
The world has seen the damage that climate change has done to Australia, with bushfires more frequent than ever before. To put it bluntly, if industries don’t work together to reduce impact on the environment, safe environments for humans to ride bikes simply won’t exist in the future.
How concerned do you think customers are about making environmental purchases?
Consumers are increasingly savvy when it comes to making responsible purchases. However, this requires a level of transparency from the industry which isn’t always readily available. Even with the best intentions, it’s difficult for consumers to weigh up the environmental impact of one product versus another when all you have is the word of the manufacturer to go on.
Internationally recognised independent standards such as Bluesign are so vital, allowing consumers to make these choices armed with all of the facts.