Life Cycle Impact Analysis

Rob Webbon - CEO

Rob Webbon
CEO

We reject fast-fashion, a cause of so many environmental and social issues globally.  From the outset we have tried to make more sustainable sportswear than anyone else on the market.  We started in 2014 with the most sustainable cycling jersey we could make.  And we’ve always tried to push the boundaries since then.  We have learned hard lessons along the way, and we have a long way to go but every day we try to be a little bit better, just like the athletes we serve.

Our next big step on the journey towards sustainability is getting an accurate understanding of the “Life Cycle Impact” of our clothing.  So we’ve partnered with GreenStory, who have conducted a “cradle-to-gate” analysis of our clothing, and how it compares to an alternative made from non-sustainable materials.

How it works

Our LCA has looked at the energy required to make and transport our clothing, the “embodied emissions” for our garments, as well as water use.  We have always had a focus on using recycled materials to make our sustainable cycling, running and triathlon clothing.   We know that using recycled materials is better for the environment. But the impact of a garment is much more than the materials it is made from and the packaging it arrives in: 

  • The choice of fabrics determines how they are dyed or printed, which can be very energy hungry.
  • The source of the raw materials, location of the supply chain, and the where in the world we make our clothing can have a significant impact on the distance that the component parts of the garment have to travel
  • The locations of production of these raw materials, as well as the energy types used will determine emissions from the energy in manufacture. Different countries have different amounts of CO2 emitted per unit of energy, depending on how they make electricity.  See https://www.electricitymap.org/map for more info
  • Location of the factory will determine the length of the journey for a completed garment from factory to us, and ultimately to the end customer.
  • And depending on what transport type is used for all the various components and the finished garment this can greatly affect total impact of a garment

Our recycled garments are made in Europe from recycled yarns from a mix of sources in Europe and Globally.   The comparison has been made against garments made from virgin resources assuming a global supply chain for fabrics and manufacture.

We collated a huge amount of information about each of our garments, the fabrics we use and the supply chain journey.  GreenStory have been hard at work crunching the numbers according to globally recognised methodology, and have calculated the impact of every one of our garments.

What’s the outcome?

On each product page you can now find an assessment of the impact of the garment against non-sustainable alternatives:

Why this garment is better

With this information we hope to be able to inform customers of the ways that they can reduce the impact of their clothing choices.  Fashion is one of the dirtiest industries in the world, we’re part of a growing number of businesses leading the way in changing it for the better. 

What next?

Historical review: So now we understand the impact of our clothing, we’re going to look back at all the garments we’ve ever made, to fully understand the historical impacts.  In that way we can demonstrate all the benefits we’ve been able to make over the past 6 years, and we can truly understand the impact that our clothing has had.

Reducing air freight: Through the work to date we’ve already identified that we are using express delivery of garments more than we’re comfortable with for our teamwear orders. Express = air freight = much higher impact.  So we’re looking at how we manage expectations with our customers to ensure lower impact of shipping.

Continuous improvement: We’ve had to make some assumptions to drive the LCA, e.g. where the elastane is made for our garments and how this is transported to the fabric mill.  We will continue to work with our suppliers to get a better understanding of the detail of our supply chain so we can refine our calculations.

Widening the scope:  Our LCA has looked at the garments from an energy and emissions, and water use perspective. It has also only considered the impact up until the garment leaves the factory gate.  A true LCA should consider the chemicals used throughout the manufacture, and their impacts on the environment.  It should also look at the whole lifecycle of the garment– including in-use impacts such as how it’s laundered, how long it lasts for, and how it’s disposed at end of life.   We’ll be looking at how we can incorporate this assessment into our current work. 

Offset: We’ll always try to reduce the impacts of our garments during manufacture.  But where we can not take this any further we need to offset the residual impact.  So we’re looking at which are the best schemes to offset the impact in real terms today.  Planting a tree is fantastic, but it will only really begin offsetting the impact in the future - climate change is having an impact now and we believe in taking positive actions today