Sustainability and the cycling industry: Rawvelo

Rebecca Morley finds out how sports nutrition brand Rawvelo is taking steps to be more sustainable

This piece first appeared in the August edition of our newly revamped BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here

We all know the benefits of cycling over other forms of transport that are potentially harmful to the planet, with bikes’ green credentials often highlighted as people are encouraged to choose a more environmentally-friendly way of travelling.

But what about the industry itself? “As a sector, we have a long way to go,” Rawvelo’s co-founder and director Jason Evans told BikeBiz. “At the end of the day, what we are delivering is potentially the single greenest mode of transport and leisure activity that we can, which has global impact, not just a regional impact.

“The reach of cycling and the bicycle as a mode of transport has a global impact, so the industry behind that needs to really step up to the plate. The cycling industry has the ability to be at the forefront of making change, and I feel that we should be.

“I do feel that there are big and small brands that could be doing more to step up to the plate and in the short term there are many things that could be done.”

Founded in 2018, Rawvelo is a vegan sports nutrition brand with a range consisting of on-the-go energy bars, gels and hydration drink mixes. All Rawvelo’s ingredients are 100% organic and the brand has signed up to the 1% for the Planet scheme, a global movement inspiring businesses and individuals to support environmental solutions through memberships and everyday actions.

“From our perspective, particularly within just the nutrition industry, there are just little things that can be done that are easily achievable,” continued Evans. “It’s just a matter of perseverance and the willingness to actually follow through on it and deliver it. There’s nothing that we’re doing that any other brand out there couldn’t potentially do if they so wished.”

Sustainable strategies
“We started just looking at our internal structures and how we could make small changes which didn’t really affect the operation very much,” said co-founder and director Duncan McRobert, “obvious things like moving to fully recyclable packaging.

“There are plenty of options out there now where you can have a fully recyclable postal packaging element. Changing from plastic tape to paper-based tapes, those kinds of things. These things are all out there and we did it as soon as we could. It’s not something we advertise, just housekeeping. It shouldn’t be a marketing ploy.”

Evans added: “We always set the business up from day one to focus on sustainability. Our tagline as a business is that we make sports nutrition that’s better for the long term health of the individual and the long term health of the planet.

“And that’s always been our ethos from day one, which is why we’re organically certified. It’s the single biggest thing that we’ve done as a business. It’s not just about having cleaner ingredients, it’s knowing that those ingredients are part of a supply chain and production chain that is minimising as much impact as possible on the environment.”

Doing the right thing
Customers are looking more and more for companies to be sustainable, often factoring this in to decisions about which brand to buy. But the most important thing, Evans continued, is that brands are doing the right thing and that they believe in what they’re doing, regardless of whether that provides a marketing opportunity or not.

“Hopefully they will, and already I believe that there is a new generation of consumers coming through, making their buying decisions consciously based on the credentials of the businesses that they’re buying from, the sustainable credentials of those businesses.

“It seems to me almost nonsensical not to do the right thing when there is the potential that you could be attracting a wider consumer base, or that there could be consumers that are choosing against your brand because you aren’t doing the right thing.”

Rawvelo is also planning to roll out a programme of collaborating with event organisers on a recycling scheme. “For argument’s sake, we turn up to a running or cycling event and then we would organise the recycling,” explained McRobert, “because it requires specialist recycling of things like gel wrappers.

“We have a recycling partner, and they are specialist recyclers who can tackle the demands of recycling something as complicated as a gel wrapper. We would then do collection through collection points, drop zones, assist in the tidy up and then push all the specialist recycling through our recycling partners.”

Rawvelo’s gel wrappers are made from foil-lined polypropylene which requires specialist recycling that’s not yet widely available in the UK – to solve this issue, the brand has teamed up with First Mile recycling – an industry leader in hard-to-recycle packaging.

All postal packaging, display boxes and outer packaging is made from fully recyclable card that already contains a percentage of post-consumer material. Rawvelo uses non-toxic vegan inks and only ever uses fully recyclable paper tape.

Fast fashion
“Unfortunately, the bicycle industry, particularly at the higher end, falls into that fast fashion category where the traditional development cycle is 12 months,” added Evans. “And every 12 months, there are new models of bicycles available, which make the previous models obsolete in many people’s eyes.

“Whether those improvements are actually genuine or not, it’s just about that continuous process of finding new product. We all know that the best way to cut down emissions and to increase sustainability is to make products that last longer.”

Collaboration is of course a key element of it as well. “There are some people talking about it, and making it a topic of discussion within the industry which I think is really important,” said Evans.

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