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Pearl Izumi announces new 'social purpose,' sets ambitious sustainability goals

Published June 27, 2018
By 2022, the brand plans for 90 percent of its total product line to be made from recycled, renewable or organic materials.

LOUISVILLE, Colo. (BRAIN) — Pearl Izumi has announced a new "Social Purpose" statement and some ambitious goals for sustainability.

The Shimano-owned brand's new statement is: "Because we believe how we live shapes how future generations ride, we pledge to Ride More and Do More."

In addition to other changes — such as reducing the use of garment hangtags and paper catalogs — the company plans to introduce new sustainable technical fabrics for its spring 2019 product line. Its pledging that by 2020, 30 percent of the Pearl Izumi line will be made of recycled materials. And by 2022, the brand plans 90 percent of its total product line will be made from recycled, renewable or organic materials.

The brand's president, Chris Sword, said, "Put simply, this is who we are. Pearl Izumi was founded on, and we deeply believe in, two things: the love of cycling, and more importantly, love for future generations."

"This is important because our team cares deeply about it. We are leading the industry in sustainability and environmentally-friendly actions, and we've had 60-plus years of positive influence on cycling. But we can do much more, because it can be powerful if we focus, align our efforts, and take an approach that is uniquely Pearl Izumi."

Starting in January 2019, the brand will nearly eliminate hangtags, attaching just one card, of the smallest size that can still be recycled, to capture critical codes/pricing information.

"We feel that with all of the digital resources available, relying on a large hangtag to communicate product details is outdated, and they generate a surprising amount of our total packaging waste," said Sword. "We also explored other solutions like embedded RFID chips, but ultimately, though requiring less paper, they used more resources and couldn't be easily recycled. We're not done yet though."

The company said the new hangtags use 19,400 pounds less paper, saving 165 trees, 68,082 gallons of water and 4,503 gallons of oil annually.

In addition, all new polybag packaging will shift to 100 percent recycled plastic, which can be recycled again, further reducing petroleum use.

Starting with the spring 2019 season, Pearl Izumi sales representatives and dealers will have access to a new fully-featured digital platform instead of printed catalogs. Pearl Izumi said that move will save 41 trees, 16,800 gallons of water, and 1,111 gallons of oil each season through the elimination of paper alone.

The company also is launching a "Renewal Workshop" partnership to repair and resell Pearl Izumi warranty returns, giving gently used products a second life instead of adding to the landfill.

To monitor progress against sustainability goals, Pearl Izumi is using a standardized framework called The Higg Index, which is an industry‐standard sustainability index for apparel and footwear that was developed by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition in July 2012. The brand adopted this process in 2015; it's the first-and-only cycling apparel or footwear brand reporting on this index.

The company also noted that its headquarters, built in 2013 in Louisville, Colorado, was designed to integrate and celebrate the natural landscape of Colorado. It utilizes abundant natural lighting, ideal solar orientation, and natural ventilation to create a more sustainable, comfortable, and inspiring environment.

This spring, the company earned Gold recognition from the City of Louisville in the Louisville Green Business Program and Partners for a Clean Environment.

"We recently went through a deep and heartfelt process to uncover our core company values," said Sword. "Opinions were solicited from all corners of the business and we heard consistently that a sustainable future is an absolutely critical part of our DNA. This new Social Purpose statement will galvanize us and accelerate the great work that is already underway. I think the cycling industry underestimates the positive impact it can have on people and the environment, and we intend to think big and take bold steps with sustainable business practices, products, and advocacy."

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