Cycling is key to countering climate change but the impact we have in creating cycling products must be reduced. We are aware of this challenge and determined to reduce our environmental and social impact. But it’s not a simple issue and there’s no quick fix. We’re already working hard to get to where we want to be but becoming a sustainable business is a long-term objective for us.
In certain areas, like repairing worn and damaged garments, we have been leaders since the day we started. In others, there is still a long way to go. We have already sourced a raft of low-impact materials and starting in 2020 we will introduce them into our product range. Where there are no alternatives currently available, we will continue our research.
Our Sustainability Hub aims to provide our customers with up-to-date and in-depth information on the impact Rapha is having now and the action we are taking to reduce our impact.
“Rapha exists to make cycling the most popular sport in the world. We believe cycling is a fundamental force for good and is inherently sustainable, but the cycling industry must do far more to minimise its impact on the environment. At a time when climate change poses ever more challenges, Rapha is focussed on finding more sustainable ways to manufacture and distribute cycling products, and grow participation. Now more than ever, we are committed to the sport while keeping our own environmental impact to a minimum.”
- Simon Mottram, CEO
Please click on any of the options below to find out more about what our impact is now and how we are reducing it.
Before we reduce our impact, we need to understand it. This is a brief summary of the process we undertake to accurately measure the environmental and social impact of our operations.
How are we measuring our impact on the environment?
Since the beginning of 2018, we have been using the Higg Index to conduct life cycle assessments to measure the environmental impact of our products. We started off with our best selling products and have since analysed our entire material library, identifying the worst performers in terms of their contribution to global warming, eutrophication, water scarcity and fossil fuel depletion.
What is the Higg Index?
The Higg Index is a range of tools designed to measure environmental and social performance of products and companies developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC). Rapha has been a full member of the SAC since the beginning of 2019 and our involvement has rapidly improved our ability to measure and reduce our impact. We’re proud to be a part of this non-profit sustainability network of experts from the world’s largest and leading apparel brands.
What is Rapha doing to reduce its environmental and social impact?
In response to the findings from our impact analyses, we have since been working to source alternative materials that reduce our impact while maintaining our unique brand experience and high product quality standards.
How many repairs have we done? How many garments have we saved?
Since 2004, we have repaired over 34,000 garments. Repairing rather than replacing is one of the most effective ways of reducing our impact and, from day one, Rapha has been committed to mending, as well as making, the world’s finest cycling clothing. We provide a free repair service on a broad range of our products, keeping our customers and their garments on the road for longer.
We’ve mended merino wool jerseys and darned deep winter socks, we’ve patched up pockets and stitched ripped seams back together. Saved from sourcing a replacement, the owner of each and every rescued garment gets a uniquely repaired item and a story to tell.
To find out more, you can visit our Repairs Page.
What materials do we use? What is their impact? What are we doing to reduce that impact?
Found in: Classic Jerseys, Brevet Jerseys, Baselayers, Socks
Opportunity: Wool has been a Rapha staple since the start. We created our own Rapha Performance Merino blend in 2004 and used it in our very first product, the Classic Jersey. Our commitment to using the finest, most responsibly sourced wool ensures the welfare of sheep – no mulesing – and land management practices that protect soil health, biodiversity and native species. Much of our wool already conforms to the Responsible Wool Standard.
Action: We are constantly working to increase the proportion of our wool that is RWS certified, with the aim of attaining 100%.
POLYESTER & NYLON
Found in: All products not made from wool, cotton or leather.
Opportunity: Most Rapha products are made with synthetic materials – polyester and nylon are our two most used materials by weight. The availability of recycled versions present an opportunity to significantly reduce our impact.
Action: We are currently testing recycled versions of some of our most widely used synthetic materials, with the intention of introducing more recycled content into our range in the coming years.
Found in: Just about everything.
Opportunity: Though used in relatively small quantities, elastane is a component of so many of our products that it constitutes an important part of our environmental strategy. Finding recyclable alternatives to elastane could significantly reduce our environmental impact.
Action: For products with a high elastane content that may reach ‘end of life’, we are currently investigating textile recycling options. We are also looking into future alternatives, such as high-stretch mono-materials.
Found in: Explore Down Jackets
Opportunity: By using the best, most responsibly sourced down available, we take a firm stance against cruel production methods. 100% of our down comes from suppliers that meet the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), which ensures that geese and ducks are treated responsibly. No live plucking. No force feeding.
Action: We are committed to maintaining our high standards when sourcing down and will continue to uphold the policy of using only down that is RDS certified. Using the lot number on our swing tags, customers can trace the origins of the down used in their product.
Found in: Logo collection, t-shirts, sweatshirts
Opportunity: The availability of organic cotton will help us reduce our environmental impact. On organic farms, the use of insecticides, herbicides and pesticides is prohibited and water usage is lower.
Action: Over the coming years, we will be transitioning our lifestyle range to organic cotton.
Found in: Gloves, Backpacks
Opportunity: Since the connection between cattle ranching and deforestation was made, traceability on leather has improved within the industry. Rapha does not source any leather from wild animals or endangered species, including exotic skins. All of our gloves are made with leather from Pittards, a UK-based manufacturer and a Bronze rated member of the Leather Working Group.
Action: We will uphold the high standards we have set when sourcing leather for our gloves and will work to ensure that our other leather components are similarly certified.
Rapha works only with the best suppliers in the industry. They are leaders in their respective fields, provide excellent working conditions for their employees and share our own ethical values.
These values are presented in our Code of Conduct, which is in line with the Ethical Trading Initiative’s (ETI) Base Code, and the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Over the last fifteen years, we have created excellent relationships with long-standing suppliers. We have found that regular face-to-face contact is the key to maintaining relationships, and standards. Our staff regularly visit our suppliers in person, touring the factory and its facilities, as part of a constant assessment of our suppliers. To date, there have been no instances of exiting a factory due to poor working conditions.
To find out more, please consult our Modern Slavery Statement.
Rapha is a full member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. We use insights gained from this community of apparel and footwear brands to help reduce our environmental and social impact.
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition aims to create an apparel, footwear, and textile industry that produces no unnecessary environmental harm and has a positive impact on the people and communities associated with its activities.
The SAC has a hugely diverse group of members, a full list of which you can see here. Many of the world’s best known brands use this as a platform to exchange ideas and best practice techniques. We are proud to contribute to and learn from this community.
One of the primary benefits of the SAC is its suite of Higg Index tools, in particular the Material Sustainability Index (MSI) and the Facility Environmental Module (FEM), which we use to measure the environmental impacts of materials and suppliers respectively. To find out more about the SAC and the tools it offers,click here.
Cycling improves people’s lives, and reduces environmental impact. Our company culture has always encouraged people, from our employees and customers to the general public, to ride their bikes. Here’s how.
Riding to work
According to our latest survey, 77% of our employees cycle to work. Around the world, they cover an average of 7,334 miles per week, testing our products and gaining an intimate knowledge of their city along the way.
Our commitment to getting staff out on their bikes doesn’t stop there. Employees at our head office have the option to ride rather than work on Wednesday mornings. So long as you’re at your desk by 1pm, the South of England is your oyster. Over the years, staff have pulled off staggering feats of early morning endurance to complete endless laps of London’s parks and even return rides to Brighton.
At Rapha, we have members of staff at various points on their cycling journey. While some are old hands, others have just begun riding and to help them on their way a team of endlessly enthusiastic volunteers offers regular training sessions to build skills and confidence.
We are determined to help as many people as possible gain access to the sport. The Rapha Foundation aims to build a better future for cycling by empowering, supporting and enabling the next generation of riders. To find out more, click here.
Work and Ride with us
If you're looking to make your passion your job, view our current opportunities on the jobs board.
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