5 QUESTIONS FOR is an interview series with cycling brands that are trying to step up their game when it comes to reducing environmental impact.The series does not set out to present perfect examples, nor does the series intend to favour specific brands. What we do hope to offer is an informative and honest account of the possible challenges, gains and pitfalls of their journey. And to inspire more cycling companies to become part of this shared responsibility.
#007: Hollie Weatherstone, Global Head of Bicycle Marketing
When did your company start addressing its environmental impact, and why?
"The environment has always been a focus for us – our iconic pink cleaner has been biodegradable since its inception in 1994! Where possible since then, we’ve striven to make as many of our products kind to the environment and as safe for the user as possible. We removed PTFE from all our lubes and aerosols a couple of years ago and more recently launched our Project Green initiative.
Project Green is a never-ending commitment to deliver a multitude of improvements across our business. We love the planet we ride on and are driven to protect it for everyone. As a company, we spend most of our spare time outside riding our bikes and we want to do everything possible to ensure that our environment is protected, both now and for future riders. To kick-start Project Green, we wanted to set ourselves an ambitious target to strive towards collectively as a company. We have committed to eliminating 30+ tons of plastic by 2023. On top of this, we have made changes to some of our products to make them more sustainable and less damaging to the environment."
What particular impact within the lifespan of your products do you focus on, and why?
"The two main focuses for us in terms of product lifespan are plastic reduction and biodegradability.
Regarding plastic, our main focus is on refilling. Right now, we’re heavily pushing our concentrate bike wash and refill stations across our global dealer network and have seen massive growth in customers opting to refill and reuse their bottles instead of buying new. Our R&D Boffins and product team are looking at other solutions in this area as well as making rolling changes to product packaging e.g. removing plastic blisters and replacing with cardboard.
Regarding biodegradability, we strive to make as many of our product formulas readily biodegradable as possible. This is something that we feel particularly passionate about and where a great deal of our focus is. With the majority of our products being used outdoors, it’s important that they are formulated to be biodegradable so to help minimize the impact on the natural world where possible."
What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
"We would love for all of our product formulas to be biodegradable. However, this isn’t currently always possible without compromising on the product performance that we’re known for. With the help of our R&D team and breakthroughs in chemical technology, we believe that we’ll continue to be able to adjust more of our formulas to make them biodegradable.
We’re also constantly trying to reduce our plastic packaging which can be challenging when the majority of our products are in liquid form and need to arrive leak-free with the customer. We’ve made some significant rolling changes where possible, including removing the plastic sleeve on our drivetrain cleaner by re-designing the trigger – this on its own has eliminated around 300kg of plastic this year. We’ve also swapped plaster-blister packaging on our hydrodynamic lube and X3 cleaner for cardboard boxes and similarly, removed the plastic wrapping on our disc brake covers and replaced it with cardboard.
Some of these changes are quite costly – from the R&D invested into developing new solutions (I heard that the trigger redesign for example took months of development and testing) to the updated packaging costs themselves. However, we, as a business, feel that we have a responsibility to continuously work at reducing plastic where possible."
What are your ambitions for both short and long term?
"For the shorter term, our greatest ambition is to eliminate 30+ tons of plastic, which is something that we feel we will most definitely achieve. We also feel really strongly about ensuring we are completely transparent by not only outlining what we’re doing well but also what we could do better, and how we plan to get there.
Looking further ahead, we’ll continuously strive to make changes to all of our products, where we can, to ensure they’re as environmentally friendly as possible. One area we’d like to focus on longer term is reducing our CO2 footprint through making operational and logistical changes, as well as looking at carbon offsetting initiatives."
What do you expect of the cycling community on this journey?
"We want our customers to get on board and have been blown away by how engaged Muc-Off fans have been so far in our Project Green initiatives. We recently launched a mud guard template which can be created by using an empty Nano Tech Bike Cleaner bottle, instead of disposing of it – this came from a customer suggestion! More of this please!"
Find out more about Muc-Off here: www.muc-off.com Photo credits: Muc-Off