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Specialized Unveils Sustainability Initiative

Published May 24, 2011

MORGAN HILL, CA (BRAIN)—Specialized has launched a comprehensive sustainability initiative by incorporating Outdoor Industry Association Eco-Index evaluation of their products during product creation, and leading a carbon fiber recycling coalition.

“We are committed to becoming the leader of sustainable practices in the cycling industry,” said Specialized president and founder Mike Sinyard. “As cyclists, we are passionate about our time outdoors, and by nature of the sport, are tied to the health of the planet. We want to ensure this is reflected in how we manufacture bicycles, and ultimately, that the cycling industry becomes the model other industries look to on sustainability practices.”

To spearhead this effort, Specialized has hired Bryant Bainbridge as the company’s full-time sustainability strategist. Bainbridge, a Specialized R&D employee in the ‘80s, returns to the company from Nike, where he directed the team that created sustainability metrics for the brand; and co-authored Nike’s Considered Index, widely recognized as one of the most comprehensive systems for predicting the environmental footprint of products during the design phase.

Coinciding with their sustainability initiative, Specialized has become the first major industry member to join the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Eco-Index—a comprehensive system for evaluating and improving the environmental footprint of products during the design stage.

“We are calling for other members of the cycling industry to join us, and support the OIA in its effort to create an equipment module for the Eco-Index, designed to address the environmental footprint of the products sold in our industry,” said Specialized chief product officer Eric Edgecumbe.

In particular, Specialized is concerned about carbon fiber recycling. “The cycling industry uses massive amounts of the material; however, established methods of take-back and re-processing have yet to be created. We all benefit from pulling together on critical issues like this one. Therefore, we are requesting the formation of a cycling industry coalition to lead the recycling of carbon fiber,” Edgecumbe said.

"We envision the coalition as a mix of visible brands large and small, with the goal of aligning the cycling industry with programs currently underway in the aerospace industry, to establish take-back streams for carbon product at end of life," he added. "Specialized is reaching out to create an industry-wide coalition, which will target U.S. and European brands having shown an interest in making this effort a reality."

“We are very excited to begin the work that will compliment efforts already underway in apparel and footwear with groups like the OIA and Sustainable Apparel Coalition,” Bainbridge said. “As a leading global brand, we take our responsibility to engage and lead in this effort seriously.”

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