IMPACT & SUSTAINABILITY
Cycling has the power to change lives and make our world a better place. Find out more about how we’re managing our impact to help realise the full potential of pedal power.
Cycling has the power to change lives and make our world a better place. Find out more about how we’re managing our impact to help realise the full potential of pedal power.
- Simon Mottram, Founder
You can read our Impact Commitments here.
To find out more about the impact of our business, please select one of the options in the navigation bar below:
Of all the challenges we face, there is none more impactful and globally relevant than the climate crisis. The effects of global warming have the potential to change everything about how we ride and do business. The importance of acting on this issue collectively and immediately can’t be overstated. There is so much that we can and must do, as a company and as a community, to reduce our own contributions to global warming and to provoke wider change.
To demonstrate our commitment to this challenge, Rapha is committing to becoming a carbon neutral business by 2025. We are also pairing this commitment with a significant reduction in our carbon emissions, because neutrality alone isn’t enough. As members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, we will be working to reduce our collective emissions by 45% by 2030. We are currently in the process of developing our own specific Science Based Target for Rapha, to be shared in 2022. This target will chart our own course to net-zero emissions, in line with the most ambitious 1.5C warming pathway.
Through our use of the Higg Index tools and extensive industry research, we know that the vast majority of our environmental impacts occur in our supply chain, namely from the extraction of raw materials and the manufacturing of our fabrics. To reduce our emissions in line with 1.5C degrees of warming will require a shift in how we source and develop materials and how we monitor and collaborate with our supply chain partners.
- How are we minimising the environmental impacts of our products?
To bring Rapha products to life, we partner with a network of suppliers globally. Each supplier performs a different function in the journey from raw materials to finished product. The combination of these manufacturers working at different stages of product creation forms our supply chain, which is broken down into ‘tiers’ depending on the process carried out. A supply chain is typically broken down into 4 tiers.
The typical sourcing approach for the apparel industry is for brands to work only with finished product assembly (Tier 1), and therefore have little visibility on the sourcing and development of their materials.
For the vast majority of Rapha products we work directly with our mills (Tier 2) and in doing so have greater visibility over how our materials are made and the innovations we can strive for, both in product performance and reduced social and environmental impacts.
- What materials do we use and what are our ambitions?
Considering the significant contribution our materials play in our environmental impact, we are addressing this by transitioning our highest volume materials to their lowest impact alternatives. By 2025, our aim is for 90% of what we produce on an annual basis to be made with environmentally preferred materials.
At this time, environmentally preferred materials refers to: recycled synthetics (polyester & nylon), certified organic natural fibres (cotton), and animal derived materials that meet an animal welfare and land management standard (wool & leather). As innovation gains pace in our industry, alternatives may become available, broadening the definition of what we consider to be ‘environmentally preferred’. In 2021, we became members of Textile Exchange, gaining access to industry-leading research and partnerships that will help us better understand our materials’ impacts and keep up with these changes.
Below you can read more about the materials we use at Rapha in our SS21 collection and the steps we’re taking to reduce their environmental impact.
For the SS21 season, 10% of our styles and 14% of production volume is made with environmentally preferred materials.
Found in: 66% of styles
Represents: 71% of 2021 material weight.
Synthetic materials possess many enhanced performance benefits which can be engineered to the requirements of a cyclist. Properties include being lightweight, durable, easy to care for, fast wicking and quick drying for next to skin comfort and thermal regulation. Because of these beneficial properties, the majority of Rapha products are made with synthetic materials – polyester and nylon are our two most used materials by weight.
However, as virgin synthetics are derived from petroleum, a non-renewable resource, they are inescapably linked to climate change. Our dependence on this material source is at odds with our ambitions. To address this, we have started to transition away from virgin synthetics to their environmentally preferred counterparts.
Read our Synthetics Sourcing Policy here.
Low Impact Alternative: We are working with our supply chain partners to develop recycled versions of our most widely used synthetic materials, with the ultimate aim of producing new products from old ones in a closed loop. Where feasible we are working to ensure that the recycled content in these new materials comes from post-consumer sources and conforms to the Global Recycling Standard traceability certification.
For 2021, 9% of styles are made with recycled materials, making up 5% of our annual material weight.
Goal: Redevelop our most widely used synthetic fabrics to be made with recycled content by 2025.
Found in: 4% of styles
Represents: 15% of 2021 material weight.
Cotton is a relatively new material for Rapha, only coming into our material portfolio at scale since we launched our Logo collection in 2018. As a renewable resource there is the potential for cotton to be relatively low-impact material, but due to global demand and pressure on farmers, there are challenges around extensive use of chemical fertilizers and a reliance on human labour, even forced labour in some regions. To make things worse, traceability of raw materials back to farm level is not commonplace within the cotton supply chain.
Read our Cotton Sourcing Policy here.
Low Impact Alternative: There is an opportunity to improve both the environmental and social impact of the cotton we use – better traceability is needed in both areas. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) addresses all three of these needs. On organic farms, the use of insecticides, herbicides and pesticides is prohibited and water usage is lower. GOTS utilises a standardised Code of Conduct ensuring the basic human rights of cotton farmers are met, whilst at the same time giving greater traceability for brands to identify where their materials come from.
Goal: 100% of cotton main body fabrics will be made with organic fibres by 2023, starting with our Logo range in AW21.
Found in: 39% of styles
Represents: 8% of 2021 material weight.
Providing excellent stretch whilst maintaining strength, elastane is a material that features heavily in close-fitting performance garments. Because of this, elastane is one of our most widely used materials. However, elastane has the same origins and therefore the same challenges as our other synthetic fibres, polyester and nylon.
In addition, elastane’s stretch and strength makes it hard to recycle using the most common mechanical recycling processes available today.
Read our Synthetics Sourcing Policy here.
Low Impact Alternative: The use of elastane presents two main challenges: a non-renewable material source and a lack of recyclability. We are currently researching ways of limiting our dependence on elastane, whilst maintaining our high standards for product performance. This may be one of our biggest challenges, but solving it will significantly increase our ability to create a closed loop for Rapha products.
Goal: By 2027 more than 50% of our products will be designed to be compostable or recyclable at ‘end of life’.
Found in: 6% of styles
Represents: 5% of 2021 material weight.
Wool has been a Rapha staple since the start. With the ability to naturally regulate body temperature, it is a wonder material for cycling. We created our own Rapha Performance Merino blend in 2004 and used it in our very first product, the Classic Jersey. Over the lifetime of a wool product, the reduced need for washing and its ability to biodegrade both help reduce overall impact. As with other forms of animal agriculture, most of our wool’s environmental impact comes in the form of emissions at farm level.
Read our Wool Sourcing Policy here.
Low Impact Alternative: Many of the standards that exist to address the impact of wool focus on animal welfare. The leading standard in this area is the Responsible Wool Standard, which a portion of our wool already aligns with. 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.
Goal: 100% of our wool will be Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) certified by 2025
Found in: Less than 1% of styles
Represents: Less than 1% of 2021 material weight.
Down is a naturally occurring material used for insulation that works by trapping air in a network of interlocking clusters. It has exceptional warmth to weight ratio and is highly packable, making it perfect for bike packing adventures. While there are synthetic versions of insulation available, none currently live up to the performance and durability standards of our lightweight, packable products. Since down has a relatively low environmental impact, our focus with this material is to ensure the welfare of the animals.
Read our Down Sourcing Policy here.
Low Impact Alternative: Sourcing down that meets the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) ensures that we meet the highest standards for animal welfare and have complete transparency on provenance.. Using the lot number on our swing tags, customers can trace the origins of the down used in their product. Find out more about our down here
Goal: 100% of our down comes from suppliers that meet the Responsible Down Standard, and we’re going to keep it that way.
Found in: 1% of styles
Represents: Less than 1% of 2021 material weight.
A versatile and durable material, leather has long been a staple in cycling, from gloves to shoes. But extensive farming of cattle for their meat and leather is a significant contributor to deforestation, particularly in tropical regions like the Amazon. This is a challenge that needs to be addressed by the cycling industry. Rapha does not and will not source any leather from wild animals or endangered species, including exotic skins. And for the future, we’re looking into low impact alternatives.
Low Impact Alternative: Much of the work to be done around reducing the environmental impact of leather revolves around minimising deforestation. The Leather Working Group (LWG) certifies leather facilities to ensure traceability of their materials, along with chemical management best practices. All of our gloves are currently made with leather from a Bronze-rated member of the Leather Working Group.
Goal: To ensure all our leather comes from sources that do not contribute to deforestation and are certified members of the Leather Working Group (LWG), by 2023.
Found in: 22% of styles
For wet weather protection, many of our outerwear products are treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating. This chemical treatment improves riding comfort by preventing garments from wetting out, whilst also providing dirt and oil repellency to maximise product performance and longevity.
Most DWR coatings depend on the use of fluorocarbons. Whilst highly effective and durable, growing research indicates that long chain fluorocarbons (PFO’s) can seperate from materials, finding their way into the environment. The durable properties of this chemical group means they do not break down over time, causing harmful effects and earning them the name ‘forever chemicals’.
New regulations have prompted manufacturers to change these chemicals, using chemical chains that are shorter and shorter. But ultimately, the underlying challenges caused by fluorocarbons remain. In line with legislation, all DWR treatments that Rapha uses are based on C6 PFCs, this short-chain version is the lowest impact form of PFCs available at this time.
Low Impact Alternative: The challenges we face with PFCs are inherent to their chemical design. To reduce impact, a transition to a new form of chemistry is needed. Maintaining our product performance whilst transitioning away from PFCs will require significant innovation, but given the knowledge of their harmful impacts we are committed to this challenge.
Goal: By 2025, all products treated with a durable water-repellent coating will be PFC-free.
Packaging is an essential part of protecting products during distribution. At Rapha, we have always sought to surprise and delight our customers with packaging befitting the products within. But there is a balance to be struck. Whilst maintaining the best brand experience possible, we have already started working on ways to reduce the impact of our packaging.
Low Impact Alternative: As a first step, as of 2021, the bulk of our products will now come in a resealable bag, made from 70% recycled content. This bag is designed with minimal components to ensure it can be recycled where facilities allow. The resealable design of this new bag will also result in considerably less waste in our Clubhouses.
We are also transitioning our dispatch packaging from virgin LDPE bags to FSC-certified kraft paper mailers.
Over the course of this year, both these changes will reduce our use of virgin, single-use plastic by 11 tonnes.
Goal: By 2024, all of our product and dispatch packaging will be made using responsibly sourced and recyclable materials that can be either recycled or composted by customers.
As a global brand with an online business model, we depend on a number of shipping companies to get our products from our distribution centres to your front door. At present, customer shipping does not represent a significant proportion of our environmental impact but we know that this will change as our brand grows. As such, we have already taken action to offset the emissions of all our customer shipping and committed to doing this every year from now on.
Low Impact Alternative: Since this is so important to our customers and we have limited control over the actions taken by our third party carriers to reduce emissions, purchasing carbon credits to offset our customer shipping emissions is the most effective way of accelerating change in this area. We have already offset all emissions from customer shipping from 2020. We will continue to do this every year from now on, meaning that your products will always be delivered carbon neutral, as standard.
For the 2020 period, we calculated that emissions from our customer shipping totalled 3,239 tCo2e. To offset these emissions, we have purchased carbon credits that support projects around the world seeking to limit the effects of climate change. Find out more about these projects in our recent update on carbon neutral shipping.
In the longer term, we must work with our shipping partners to reduce emission per kilometre by transitioning to electric vehicles and optimising routes for delivery. While we are not able to directly accelerate this transition, we are working with the leaders in this field who align with our commitments on climate change.
Goal: Having already offset emissions from customer shipping, we will continue to measure and offset our emissions each year as well as exploring ways of reducing emissions with our couriers.
- How do we work with our suppliers to reduce our environmental impact?
Along with the production of raw materials, manufacturing processes - particularly fabric construction and dyeing - represent the bulk of the environmental impact in our supply chain. To gather the information necessary to make lasting change we need to go deep into our supply chain and measure Tier 1 (finished product assembly) and Tier 2 (fabric formation).
In partnership with our suppliers, we are using the Higg Index Facility Environmental Module (FEM) to measure and reduce these environmental impacts. The Higg Index FEM is a tool developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition whose members include the world’s largest apparel companies and, since 2019, Rapha.
Together with our suppliers, we are using the Higg Index FEM to gather primary data on the environmental impacts of our product creation process. Areas measured include: energy sources, greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, environmental management and chemical management systems, and pollutants in the form of material waste, wastewater and air pollution.
From here, we will be able to work with our suppliers, often in collaboration with other well known brands, to improve their environmental performance and reduce our contribution to climate change.
For the 2021 production seasons, 6 of our Tier 1 supplier facilities reported on the Higg Index FEM, representing 41% of units produced.
To use the Higg Index FEM in partnership with our suppliers to measure the environmental impact of more than 90% of our annual production volume, by 2023.
- How are we minimising the environmental impacts of our Clubhouses and Offices?
While we know the bulk of environmental impacts occur in our supply chain, we are also committed to improving the impacts of our own operations. This means the day-to-day running of our Clubhouse network and office locations as well as the activities of our staff.
We have already begun to measure the energy consumption (and resulting greenhouse gas emissions), water consumption and waste management of our operations. And given our commitment to reducing our emissions significantly and swiftly, the priority is minimising the impact of energy consumption in our Clubhouses and offices by transitioning to renewable energy wherever possible.
In 2020, 32% of the energy used to power our Clubhouses and offices came from renewable sources. But four of our stores – London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Mallorca – are leading the way, running on 100% renewables.
To transition our Clubhouse and office network to 100% renewable energy by 2025.
- How are we keeping products on the road?
While reducing the impact of what we make is our biggest challenge in addressing our contribution to climate change, it is not the complete picture when it comes to being a sustainable business. Integral to the definition of sustainable design is durability, which comes in two forms: physical durability and emotional durability.
From the outset Rapha has sought to create products with a timeless aesthetic that are built to last. This attention to quality construction and considered design means our products are well suited for durability on both fronts.
But crashes can happen at any time, which is why we have always offered a repairs service and now provide integrated repair patches in the majority of our mountain biking range. Made with excess material that would otherwise go to waste, these patches allow quick post-ride repairs that keep our apparel on the trail for longer.
Since 2004, we have repaired over 34,000 garments. Repairing rather than replacing is one of the most effective ways of extending a product's lifespan. We provide a free repair service on a broad range of our products, keeping our customers and their garments on the road for longer. Saved from sourcing a replacement, the owner of each and every rescued garment gets a uniquely repaired item and a story to tell.
Get a product fixed through the Rapha Repairs Service here.
We’ve also recently published our care guides, covering our materials that need that little extra attention to stay at peak performance. So far our care guides cover Wool, Down & Water Repellent products as well as Gore-Tex fabrics.
You can access Rapha Care Guides here.
To move beyond extending product life spans to a circular business model, we are aiming to offer a takeback and donation scheme by the end of 2022.
- How are we ensuring the wellbeing of people who make our products?
As part of our commitment to ensure the wellbeing of all people in our supply chain, Rapha has joined the Ethical Trading Initiative as a foundation member. Together with the ETI, we hope to identify and act upon salient risks, whilst improving and building on our existing processes and policies. To find out more, read this blog from Rapha’s Supply Chain Sustainability manager Natalie Smith
The people who create Rapha products are an integral part of our brand. Their wellbeing underpins the long term success of our business and we are committed to ensuring that every single person involved with the creation of Rapha products is treated as fairly as our own employees.
We recognise that excellent quality products are made by highly skilled workers, who are enabled by excellent, safe working conditions.We have built strong, long-term relationships with leading suppliers in our industry. These partnerships foster trust, which allows us to guarantee our suppliers share our ethical values.
To convey our confidence in our suppliers and to contribute to the mapping of the global apparel supply chain, we are taking the next step in transparency. In alignment with the ODSAS guidance on best practice for supply chain disclosure, in 2021, we have published a list of our Tier 1 suppliers for the first time.
We are also publishing our own Code of Conduct, to which all of our suppliers and their subcontractors are asked to adhere. In line with the Ethical Trading Initiative’s (ETI) Base Code and the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), our Code of Conduct covers, but is not limited to, Rapha’s minimum expectations on anti-bribery, worker discrimination, working hours, freedom of association and child labour.
In addition to our code of conduct, we are using the Higg Index Facility Social and Labour Module (FSLM) to monitor and improve the social performance of our supply chain partners. This tool measures our suppliers’ compliance with, and goes above and beyond our code of conduct.
Through the use of the FSLM we will be able to identify and address issues that may arise in our supply chain, often in collaboration with other well-known brands. In addition to this, we will be working with an NGO called Fair Working Conditions to verify the findings of the FSLM and to guide us in our next steps.
For the 2021 production seasons, 12 of our Tier 1 supplier facilities reported on the Higg Index FSLM, representing 41% of units produced.
To use the Higg Index FSLM to measure more than 90% of our annual production volume by 2023
- How do we make Rapha one of the best places to work?
To harness the full potential of pedal power and ensure that Rapha is a progressive and engaging place to work, we are continually investing in our internal culture. Our employees are the spirit of the company - their ingenuity, teamwork and creative energy is what brings our brand to life. And as we grow, we are committed to building on the culture we have cultivated at Rapha whilst reflecting on how we can improve.
In the summer of 2020, we pledged to do more to promote diversity, equality and inclusion within our own organisation, our sport and our industry. You can read our statement here. We have since taken significant steps, working with specialist consultants The Honeycomb Works to review and identify the key challenges we face as a business. Through this collaboration we have already gained insights into our strengths and weaknesses as a company.
As part of our original commitments, in 2021 we will be publishing a report on our findings and our progress.
Our company culture has always been about encouraging everyone, from our staff to our customers and their family and friends, to ride their bikes.
Pre-pandemic, 77% of our employees cycled 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.
- How are we playing our part within the global cycling community?
While many of our impact commitments address the negative aspects of a modern business, we are also striving to amplify the positive impacts we have both on our sport and on the world around us. As we continue to grow as a brand, we intend to put our growing influence to good use, affecting positive change in the communities we serve and taking a vital step towards achieving our aim of making cycling the most popular sport in the world.
Compiled with input from the most influential figures in the sport and informed by a thorough examination of cycling’s position in the 21st century, the Rapha Roadmap was commissioned to guide the company’s involvement in professional cycling and to spark broad, honest debate about the future of the sport.
From financial structures and broadcasting rights to equal prize money and the racing calendar, the Roadmap sought to identify the challenges faced by the sport and set out a brighter vision for its future. It remains a key part of our plan to make cycling the most popular sport in the world and continues to inform our involvement in the sport at all levels.
You can read the Rapha Roadmap in full here.
Our most obvious involvement with professional cycling has been our sponsorship of athletes and teams. We are proud to have worked with some of the world’s greatest riders over the years, including the Canyon//SRAM women’s team since 2016 and professional men’s teams EF Education-Nippo and Legion of Los Angeles since 2019 and 2020 respectively.
But as part of our commitment to represent a diverse cycling community around the world, we have overhauled our athlete sponsorship program to better promote diversity within elite level cycling. In addition to our sponsored teams, we have added a diverse group of individual athletes, some of whom run their own grassroots cycling programs.
And to ensure we continue to broaden the representation of athletes at the pinnacle of our sport, we have also formally committed to a strategic allocation of our annual sponsorship budget to help promote diversity, equality and inclusion within elite level cycling.
Starting in 2021, Rapha will allocate a minimum of 50% of annual athlete sponsorship to BAME, LGBTQ+ cyclists as well as female teams and riders, helping to create more diversity, inclusion and equality within the elite sport.
Whilst the Rapha Roadmap sets out a vision for the future of professional cycling, we are equally committed to supporting the sport at grassroots level. The Rapha Foundation was created in 2019 with a mission to build a brighter future for the sport by inspiring, empowering and supporting the next generation of riders. The Foundation now supports more than ten organisations around the world who help thousands of young cyclists, many from under-represented communities, gain access to new pathways into the sport.
To date, we have provided over $5 million of funding to 15 grantees in the US, UK, Australia and Japan. We are determined to continue reaching out to as many new grantees as possible in the years ahead. And to make sure we are addressing the needs of our sport’s most under-represented communities, starting in 2021, over 60% of the Rapha Foundation's annual $1.5 million funding will go towards supporting BAME and female focused programs and initiatives.
Working together with all of our grantees, we hope to provide opportunities for young people to engage with cycling in a way that would otherwise not be possible. To find out more about our funding process and our previous grantees, click here.
Over the next 5 years we are committed to giving another $7.5 million to aid grassroots cycling groups globally.
We are all inspired by the commitment and determination of athletes at the pinnacle of our sport, but equally, we want to generate opportunities for all people to engage with cycling meaningfully for the first time. To provide as many people as possible with the opportunity to ride their bikes in a safe, welcoming environment, Rapha runs a global series of group rides including but by no means limited to those below.
Since 2013, we have hosted the Women's 100, an annual event that encourages women all over the world to ride 100km. Over the years, we have seen participation grow significantly, with participants in over 30 countries. Collectively women have covered many thousands of miles, often together. Countless women use the Women’s 100 ride as the first big milestone in their cycling journey and we’re proud to set them on their way.
Founded by a Rapha designer who challenged himself to ride through the holiday period, the Festive 500 has become a riding rite of passage for cyclists around the world. Now in its twelfth year, the challenge has been undertaken by thousands upon thousands of riders, many of whom write to us to explain the profound effect taking on the challenge has had on their lives. The event continues to go from strength to strength and we look forward to seeing even more riders go the distance next year.
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