Article originally posted by the Running Industry Alliance.
In December, Running Industry Alliance member Rawvelo joined us at the annual The Running Conference as Official Nutrition Partner to speak about their approach to sustainability and responsibility in the running industry as part of a panel at the event.
Rawvelo is a brand doing things differently, breaking the mould to set a better example while also looking to set an example for others to follow without shouting about it – just doing the right thing day in, day out.
In this article, Rawvelo discusses the structures it has put in place through its development to become a well-recognised sustainable brand, and how it’s looking to inspire other brands through its actions.
For a long time now, sports nutrition brands have focused on creating ‘performance first’ products with an incredibly low production cost to maintain very high margins, even when running a heavy discounting business model. Similar to fast fashion, this relies on using extremely cheap raw ingredients without too much regard to the wider implications of their origins or how they have been cultivated or produced – or the long term health implications associated with them.
The wide-spread use of maltodextrin is one such example, a processed fast-acting carbohydrate which studies have shown can cause long term gastrointestinal issues as well as being less effective than other more natural – and of course, more expensive options.
This is why none of the Rawvelo’s sports nutrition products contain maltodextrin. Instead we use ingredients that allow us to deliver on our core value of creating sports nutrition that is ‘better for the long term health of the planet and the individual’. All-natural, organic and whenever possible raw – ingredients that are minimally processed.
The wider benefit of using organic ingredients is in how they come to be, with organic farming practices being much less energy and water intensive than conventional agriculture. This means a huge reduction in carbon emissions and any emissions that are caused are offset by more carbon being stored in the healthier soil organic farming creates. This type of farming also eliminates the use of toxic pesticides and insecticides, thereby stopping these pollutants leaching into soil and water systems. It’s the key to creating a healthy and sustainable food system that can feed the world’s growing population.
Product packaging has also been a point of contention for some time, with a lot of product wrappers either being dispatched on the roadside or straight into the standard bin without a thought towards the environmental impact of doing so.
We set out to ensure that our entire range came in easily recyclable packaging by 2022, something we achieved at the start of the year thanks to a partnership with First Mile Recycling. This partnership gives Rawvelo customers a simple solution for recycling their used Energy Gel wrappers by popping them into a FREEPOST envelope and sending them to a specialist recycling company to be processed. The Rawvelo Energy Bar wrappers and Hydration Drink Mix pouches and sachets can simply be recycled in the same stream as other single polymer wrappers such as bread bags and lidding films.
“Making it as easy for the customer as possible is important to us as it hugely increases the chances that they will indeed recycle their wrappers after use,” explained Rawvelo co-founder Jason Evans. “All of our postal packaging, in-store display boxes and outer packaging is made from fully recyclable card which already contains a percentage of post-consumer material. We also only use non-toxic vegan inks and fully recyclable paper tape.
“To make things even easier for our customers to do the right thing we send out a small information card with every order that tells them what all the packaging is made from and how to recycle it – that’s all angles covered.”
It can be daunting for established brands and organisations to think about completely changing what they do to become more sustainable, but just making small, genuine steps in the right direction can build incrementally over time to have a huge impact. This isn’t about how you think you are seen as a brand by consumers, this is about what you actually do as a brand – actions that may well become a dividing line driving consumer choice in the very near future.
With Rawvelo’s marketing strategy including having a presence at endurance events around the country, the team has also extended this movement for increased wrapper recycling to these events too. The team are in attendance with recycling bins in which runners or riders can ditch their wrappers in the knowledge that they’ll be processed correctly and sustainably.
Rawvelo urges other brands across the sports industry to join them in looking at how they can also make planet positive changes however big or small, whilst also motivating their own customers to take a more sustainable approach to their own sport and activities.