Many UIAA Safety Label Holders are increasing efforts to reduce the environmental impact of their manufacturing processes.
“Respecting the planet should be logical for outdoor industry players,” says Betta Gobbi of Grivel about the Italian company’s decision to cover the 7,000m2 roof of its factory with solar panels.
Grivel says the solar panels will produce enough energy to reduce carbon emissions by nearly 700kg a day, and lower oil consumption by about 1,000 barrels each year.
Rope manufacturer Beal has taken a very different approach. The French firm is working with the non-profit organization, Wood en Stock, to plant a tree in Madagascar for every rope it sells.
Beal has a production facility on the island nation which has been greatly affected by deforestation. “We consider it is a good return to help the country,” explains Michel Beal of the “one purchased rope, one planted tree” project. “The trees are planted in the Andringitra region, where the famous Tsaranoro mountain is located, with its very well known face – one the best spots in the world!”
Beal says that Wood en Stock has “taught local people to grow and plant the trees and take care of the plantations, avoiding the use of small trees for cooking or heating”.
Swiss equipment and clothing manufacturer Mammut is offsetting the 280 tons of CO2 emissions each year from its rope production, and now claims that making the ropes is “climate neutral”. Mammut has teamed up with the climate offset organization MyClimate to fund sustainable energy programmes around the world.
But Mammut is working hard behind the scenes too. “Measures are taken on company level as much as on product level,” Mammut Sports Group CEO Rolf Schmid tells the UIAA. “An analysis of the eco impact at Mammut headquarters has been conducted in 2010. Based on this research, an internal eco data management and monitoring system will be established.”
The Swiss company is also undertaking a “life cycle analysis of three Mammut products in order to better understand their eco impact”. Schimd says other initiatives on the product level include the use of organic cotton, recycled materials and other environmental friendly fabrics.
Good for business
Betta Gobbi of Grivel firmly believes reducing her company’s carbon footprint is good for business. “It will lower the cost of energy and allow us to remain competitive,” she says. Grivel invested €2 million in the solar panels, which have been guaranteed for 25 years. “We also want to place products on global markets which respect the environment, and we believe this can be an advantage towards our competitors.”
Michel Beal agrees: “Customers very much like our very concrete action. The ‘One rope, One tree’ flyer attached to each rope has an individual number, which guarantees that we effectively plant the tree.” Thanks to this programme around 150,000 trees have already been put into the ground in Madagascar. And when a single tree is only a few years old, Beal says, it already compensates for the entire carbon needed for the production of a rope.
Both Gobbi and Beal think more companies should engage in actions easily recognisable by the customer. Similar to the “One rope, One tree” action, Grivel attaches a label to all of its products which states, “Made in Italy with Solar Energy”.
On a larger scale, the 50-strong members (including some UIAA Safety Label Holders) of the European Outdoor Group (EOG) have begun testing an “Eco Index”. The index is “designed to help companies benchmark and measure their environmental footprint”, according to the EOG website.
Rolf Schmid says Mammut is actively engaged with the EOG’s Sustainability Working Group, and has taken on a “leadership role within its sub-working group on end-of-life solutions”.