ERGON ECO-LEADERSHIP – GREENLAB INITIATIVE

You spoke, we listened. Going “green,” is no longer just a cool trend, it is necessary for a sustainable future. We saw REI’s initiative to upgrade almost all of their packaging to use more eco-friendly materials, and reduce the overall amount of waste going into the landfills.

We like to call our way of thinking the GreenLab Initiative.

The idea of new packaging had been in our sights for awhile, and we rolled it out at Interbike. Here is the difference:

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Old style packaging – very useful because dealers do not have to buy grip displays, and it gave a hands on experience to consumers. However, it used a lot of plastic, 8 different pieces, and 4 different materials.  It is all recyclable, but the dis-assembly and sorting process can be time consuming.

The solution:
Screen shot 2009-09-30 at 12.14.19 PM

The difference:

  • 40% LESS material is used for the packaging
  • It is made of 100% paper, and most of the paper is actually recycled paper.  The shape of the box is also noteable.  Most recycled paper pulp materials are square boxes, and it took additional research to discover how to make it into a custom shape.
  • No dis-assembly is required.  Simply place it in the paper recycling bin.
  • Performance is not compromised from a selling stand-point.  The consumer is still able to test the grip, just like with the older style packaging.
  • Only 1 material being used for the packaging

There is an award in Germany called the German Industry Packing Award (that is not just for the bicycle industry), and we won the award!  Although most of us in the U.S. haven’t heard a lot about it, it is actually a really big deal in Europe.  The English translation of their description is as such:

Noted for its extremely balanced combination of attractive and innovative design, which is realised through the effective use of ecologically sourced packaging and decorative materials – it is an unusual use of packaging technology particularly in this category.

The construction of the sales packaging allows the consumer to experience the ergonomic bicycle grip.  The design of the construction, the quality of the graphic design as well as the characteristics of the materials chosen support the product optimally.  It ticks all of the boxes.

Submitted by: RTI Sports GmbH, Urmitz
Design: Ergon Factory Design
Manufacturer: Ergon / RTI Sports
User: Cyclists”

Here is the breakdown:

Screen shot 2009-09-30 at 9.50.59 AM

Screen shot 2009-09-30 at 9.51.09 AM

Since we put our thinking cap on for new packaging, we decided to take it one more step. Could we find a more sustainable grip material?  The answer was yes.  Enter the GP1 BioKork.

Screen shot 2009-09-30 at 9.51.32 AM

It turns out that cork is a high performing product for a bicycle grip.  First of all, the cork is from an organic tree farm in Portugal.  Only a small percentage of each tree is cut away per year.   Therefore, no trees are killed in the process of farming the cork, and the tree actually regenerates the cork that was removed before more cork can be cut from it again.  The grip is made from 40% cork (100% is not possible due to the heat restrictions for injection molding).  The rubber dowel that the grip is built around is also made from a 40% grass compound.  If you smell the inside of the grip, a grassy aroma will fill your nostrils.  In addition to changing the material, we also were able to switch from using mineral oil to vegetable oil on the palm segment.  The aluminum clamp is also 100% recyclable.

A myth about sustainable products is that when you use an eco-friendly material, that performance is compromised (think of hybrid car rumors).  The BioKork grip actually increased the GP1’s performance.  The cork is hypoallergenic and antibacterial.  Also, the BioKork grip has excellent dampening properties and is actually lighter in mass than the traditional GP1 rubber grip.  The cork also as a more natural feel than the rubber grip.

At Interbike, REI, one of the driving leaders in the eco-business practices movement, had a very informative packaging seminar that we attended.

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Here are a few video snippets. Eric Abraham, the packaging manager at REI, did a presentation on some of the new packaging that REI created.

Be on the lookout for the new Ergon packaging and 2010 products next year. We can’t wait for you to see for yourself!

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4 Responses to “ERGON ECO-LEADERSHIP – GREENLAB INITIATIVE”

  1. Excellent. And timely, I was very taken by the wasteful packaging of the grips and was going to mention it in a written review. Now I can talk about more positive things!

  2. Nice work Ergon! Be curious to see how those cork grips hold up long term and the new packaging is great. Reminds me of last weekend’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.

  3. Tim Hawkings Says:

    I’m very pleased to see you’ve changed the packaging for your bar grips- i was SHOCKED to see how much wasteful packaging was initially used, and was about to write to complain.
    Thank you for being conscious of the improvements needed.

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