Cycling Industries Europe (CIE) and Conebi are aiming to draft a full sustainability strategy with specific targets for each of their priorities ahead of the next Eurobike, with broader support from industry stakeholders.
Participants at the sustainability breakfast organised by the two groups at Eurobike yesterday heard that some companies have made substantial investments to tackle issues around corporate and social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability. But European industry organisations have been relatively slow in getting joint efforts off the ground – compared with industries such as fashion and the outdoor sector.
“We don’t have the time and we don’t have the luxury that our individual companies and associations and organisations and initiatives do their own individual CSR approaches,” said Alexander Thun, chairman of the CIE/Conebi expert group on CSR and sustainability. “When it comes to CSR, competitive advantage was yesterday. Nowadays, CSR is all about cooperation,” he added.
In a quick poll at the well-attended breakfast, virtually all participants agreed that cycling is sustainable, but only 7% thought that the industry itself is sustainable.
Upcoming European legislation is another motive for urgency.
Launched about two years ago, the expert group defined a mission to lead by example “with products and services designed, produced, used and re-used responsibly.”
The group started taking concrete action with a sustainable packaging pledge. About 80 bicycle companies have signed up, to make sure that they use more recycled and reusable packaging.
CIE and Conebi have created three priority groups, working on a responsible supply chain, carbon emissions and lifecycle assessment, and the circular economy. Another priority group working on a sustainability strategy for the European industry was created earlier this year. Thun said it could finalise concrete targets in the next six to nine months, provided it gets broad-based support.
Robbert de Kock, president of the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI), urged the European industry not to reinvent the wheel, and to take advantage of existing resources developed by the organisation and others.
Thun said he is eager to work together with the WFSGI, People for Bikes and others, to avoid duplication and make faster progress.
Participants heard repeatedly that they should not be intimidated by the complexity of the task – they could start with small steps, like removing paper cups at the coffee machine, just to get their company in green motion.
Louisa Holbrook, head of sustainability at Brompton Bicycle, provided a concrete example of measuring the impact of packaging, and finding solutions to reduce it.
Luuk de Leeuw, quality and innovation manager at Swapfiets, was on hand to outline the sustainable aspects of the Dutch company’s business model.
Alec Seaman, head of sustainability for the Bicycle Association of Great Britain, was appointed yesterday as vice chairman of the CIE and Conebi sustainability expert group.