5 Society and the environment
Accell Group produces a sustainable product that contributes to a healthy lifestyle and reduces CO2 emission. An important part of the company mission is to build the production in the most friendly way for humanity and the environment. In this chapter the main CSR data will be presented. Detailed information and data, including the GRI index, including table of contents, is available on the website in the CSR section.
Accell Group focuses on four points:
- With the products, Accell Group contributes to making mobility more sustainable. Accell Group strives to strengthen this contribution by actively supporting initiatives that encourage sustainable mobility, sport and moving.
- Accell Group wants to be innovative in making its initiatives more sustainable and trendsetting
- Accell Group has a key position in the value chain and therefore takes the responsibility to stimulate suppliers, dealers and consumers to operate in a sustainable manner. Accell Group is an important chain between these groups. Accell Group recognises a few parts of CSR as pre-competitive, and sees a joint approach as most effective. Accell Group will take the lead on significant collective subjects, like CSR in the value chain.
- People are the heart of the organisation and Accell Group strives to a stimulating environment for its employees: fun, safety, health and development.
Accell Group has a horizontal organisational structure. The size of the subsidiaries varies from 20 to more than 500 employees. Subsidiaries have considerable operational responsibility, which focuses primarily on the position of their brand(s) in the markets. They determine the company strategy and related CSR strategy together with the holding.
In each of the Accell Group companies, one of the managers is responsible for CSR. These managers are all part of the ACSI network (Accell Corporate Sustainability Network) and are supported by the holding. The Chief Operations Officer of Accell Group has final responsibility for the CSR policy.
Membership of industry bodies
Accell Group is a member of various national and international industry organisations and initiatives. A number of these focus specifically on CSR. Accell Group has a seat on a large number of boards, such as that of the WFSGI (World Federation of Sporting Goods Industry), in national organisations such as the Dutch RAI association and Univelo in France, plus the European umbrella organisation CONEBI. Accell Group also has a seat on various committees that draw up safety standards at a European and global level.
In 2015, 95% of the activities were subject to the data collection. This percentage has been determined by a number of employees of the companies where the data has been collective divided by the total number of employees. The increase of the percentage compared with 2014 (90%) is because this year the data of the Asian companies of Accell group are also included.
Urban congestion is a growing problem across the globe. It causes pollution, health problems and economic damage. The bicycle and e-bike can play a role in the solution to this problem. In addition to providing sustainable mobility, cycling also contributes to improved health. Obesity and a lack of exercise are major causes of health problems in our society. Research by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment (Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Milieu) shows that people who cycle regularly have the physical condition of a sportsperson and are physically around 10 years younger than their actual age. They have a better immune system and a 50% reduced chance of a heart attack.
Green and healthy mobility
Accell Group contributes to sustainable and healthy mobility by providing a sustainable mode of transport. And we are constantly taking this one step further, with innovative concepts and solutions such as the Speed Pedelec. This e-bike provides peddle support up to a maximum speed of 45km/h. Realising this top speed does require some serious peddling. The cruising speed is around 35-38 km/h. This speed makes the Speed Pedelec extremely useful for longer-distance commuter traffic. This makes it a serious alternative to the car.
Lobby for safety and sustainability
Accell Group actively promotes the interests of consumers and the bicycle sector. Together with other organisations, we form a powerful lobby group to promote safe cycling conditions. Under the CONEBI banner, we participate with the European industry in a lobby to safeguard sound regulations related to the Speed Pedelec. Accell Group also participates in initiatives to address the broader societal issue of sustainable mobility and the relief of traffic flows in and between cities.
Accell Group encourages consumer health by providing products that encourage healthy exercise and sports. In line with this aim, we support initiatives that encourage young people to exercise and aim to reduce social problems such as obesity. We also support organisations that promote the bicycle as a common mode of transport in developing countries. For instance, Accell Group supports the non-profit organisation World Bike Relief (WBR), and Raleigh is involved in the Re-Cycle Bikes for Africa initiative.
Accell Group will spend more than one million euros annually on initiatives that contribute to greater sustainability in mobility, promote the health and safety of consumers and help keep elderly people mobile for longer. Accell Group achieved this goal in 2015.
Accell Group wants to set an example and encourages its own employees to choose sustainable modes of transport for their daily commute. The objective is for less than 50% of our employees to travel to work by non-sustainable means. We met this target for the first time in 2014. The number of employees travelling to work individually by non-sustainable means continued to decrease, and fell to 40% in 2015. The increase in the category ‘Other sustainable’ is largely accounted for by our Asian companies, where many employees walk to work or travel on electric bicycles or scooters.
Accell Group does not compromise when it comes to safety. Our products are made with high-quality materials. Each product meets the highest international safety standards, such as those laid down in ISO (World), ASTM (USA), EN (Europe) and the IEC standards for electric components.
Accell Group is involved in task forces and organisations that encourage the safe use of bicycles in traffic. We also provide information to the specialist retail trade and consumers about safe and responsible bicycle use and maintenance, primarily for e-bikes and the Speed Pedelec.
Accell Group provides employment to more than 3,000 people. This is important to the economic activity in the regions where Accell companies are located.
Our employees are passionate about the products they produce; the product ‘bicycle’ connects our employees and makes them proud of the company. As a result, Accell Group has a strongly operational corporate culture. Attention for a social policy and the enjoyment of our employees in their work are important parts of this corporate culture. And in line with this, it is also important to offer employees perspective for growth and development. Working in production, warehouses and offices comes with a number of health and safety risks, such as the safety of machinery and tools, lifting activities, practical testing under severe conditions, RSI and workload.
The efficiency of our operations is a major priority at Accell Group. We believe the best way to achieve this is with qualified and motivated personnel who work under positive terms and conditions. Accell Group seeks to engage its employees for the long term and aims for low staff turnover. However, the bicycle sector has seasonal production patterns, which results in a high percentage of employee turnover, due to the production companies.
Of Accell Group’s total workforce, 61% are employed under a collective labour agreement. Various Accell Group companies cooperate with organisations in the sheltered employment sector and/or a special programme for young people making their first entry into the labour market.
Enjoyment and social policy
In its role as employer, Accell Group goes beyond simply arranging processes such as recruitment and selection and remuneration. The employees are the beating heart of the company. At Accell Group, they will find an open and professional culture. Many Accell companies offer their employees a profit-sharing scheme. Employees are often active in sponsorship activities and can submit activities from their own local environment, frequently but not necessarily associated with the sport of cycling. Sponsoring these activities boosts the employees’ engagement and pride in the company and raise the awareness of our brands in the local communities. We regularly organise parties or sports events for our employees. A pleasant working environment and a company that devotes attention to reciprocal engagement boosts commitment to the company and its goals.
This year, we are launching a pilot for uniform and frequent employee surveys. In these surveys, we measure our employees’ engagement, satisfaction and enthusiasm. We can use the outcome of these surveys to change the policies where necessary. We have also appointed a director at holding level to support, expand and safeguard the employee policy of the brands.
Health and safety
Accell Group attaches enormous importance to the health and safety of its employees. All group companies comply with national regulations and legislation.
In every company, someone is responsible for health and safety. Next to ensuring compliance with regulations and legislation they encourage the health and safety culture within the companies. There are also trained emergency staff on site within all companies. Where relevant, the company has specialists in fire safety and/or hazardous substances. Absenteeism is monitored and reported on an annual basis, as are industrial accidents. Accell Group strives for 100% safety. For each industrial accident, we investigate the cause and any necessary extra measures that may need to be taken.
In 2015, we noted an increase in absenteeism following accidents. Analysis shows that these were partly due to carelessness or inattentiveness. This has resulted in more attention being devoted to operating instructions, particularly for new employees. In some cases, the production tools have been adjusted. An overview of accidents and measures is shared with sister companies and discussed so we can share know-how and organise preventative actions if necessary.
* The number of hours of absenteeism, expressed as a percentage of the total number of working hours
Training and Education
Accell Group’s policy is aimed at providing employees with a challenging working environment that suits their personal abilities and ambitions. Managers and team leaders are responsible for identifying training wishes and opportunities.
Our goal: realising an average of 10 training hours per employee per year. This target is anchored in the training and education budget of all Accell companies. Training is a regular component of the annual budget talks, in which the training budget is assessed on the basis of the training hours given in previous years.
In 2015, the average number of training hours per employee once again increased, to 9.6 hours. This means that Accell Group almost realised it training hours target.
Bicycle-use helps to reduce the environmental impact of emissions from traffic, especially when bikes are used as an alternative to cars. However, producing bikes does have a negative environmental impact, because of the use of materials and energy, CO2 emissions and waste production.
Metals are a major component of bicycles,. there is a worldwide network for the recycling of metals. One of the most used materials in the bicycle industry is primary aluminium*. Aluminium is one of the most used materials within the bicycle industry because it is pure, high-grade and indispensable to guaranteeing the safety of bicycles. On a global scale, the demand for so-called secondary aluminium is so high that it is easy to find a market for the high percentage of material available for recycling. But there is still a structural demand for primary aluminium to fulfil the need. Accell Group believes that extensive research into the use of secondary aluminium in bicycles is not yet efficient. As part of its CSR strategy, Accell Group devotes extra attention to other materials and parts that have a relatively high impact on the environment.
* Primary or new aluminium is extracted from bauxite and its production requires a great deal of energy. The smelting of used aluminium products (scrap) into recycled or secondary aluminium requires only 5-10% of the amount of energy needed to produce primary aluminium.
This material is used in the frames of professional racing bikes. A frame made of carbon creates a 60% greater burden on the environment than an aluminium frame.
The strong increase in the number of e-bikes has made used batteries a growing issue in waste processing.
A key point given the large amount of packaging used to protect parts and final products.
The French Lapierre brand is a relatively large consumer of carbon within Accell Group and has taken on a leadership role in this issue. The end-of-line frames of Lapierre racing bikes have been tested by a carbon processing firm and are suitable for recycling. However, there is as yet no real commercial market for recycled carbon derived from bikes. In the short term, the returned carbon materials are collected, stored and transported in bulk to qualified processing plants.
Lapierre is following the developments in the field of carbon technology closely. Developments such as the possibility of producing high-grade fibres from basic materials other than carbon. This is currently still in the test phase.
Recycling batteries from e-bikes
Accell Group is actively cooperating in the creation of national and international systems for the collection and responsible processing of used e-bike batteries. Together with foundations in Germany (GRS), Belgium (Bebat) and the Netherlands (Stibat), we have already set up systems for the collection of bike batteries. Discarded batteries are collected from specialist retailers, sorted in a central location and sent to certified processing firms.
At the moment, the collected batteries consist mainly of the Lithium-Ion chemical system. The batteries are dismantled and the parts offered to raw materials producers and companies in the base metals industry.
Informing and encouraging the specialist retailers to make collection possible and actively promoting this among consumers will require serious efforts.
Accell Group’s policy is to replace packaging materials made from fossil sources with renewable materials. In other words, less plastic and more packaging based on paper and organic raw materials.
We monitor material use closely and benchmark the results of the Accell companies, so best practices are visible across the group and companies learn from each other. We monitor the amount of packaging material used on an annual basis, according to type of material and environmental impact.
Goal: to reduce the environmental impact of packaging materials in combination with the resultant waste flows (expressed in CO2 equivalents) by 2% to 4% per bicycle per annum.
In 2015, we reduced the environmental impact from packaging by 132 CO2 eq, which means an overall reduction of 3.5% compared to 2014. You can find more information about this goal under the header ‘waste’.
CO2 emissions and energy consumption
Accell Group’s strategy targets a reduction of CO2 emissions. Accell Group wants to use the targets for energy suppliers of the European Energy Efficiency Directive and reduce emissions by 1.5% per year. Research into the environmental impact of Accell Group’s operating processes shows that energy use has the greatest impact in terms of CO2 emissions. Energy is used for assembly and painting bicycles, and to heat and light production facilities, warehouses and offices. The transport of parts and distribution of products also consumes energy. Accell Group therefore considers energy use and transport and distribution important priorities.
Efforts are underway across the entire group to reduce Accell’s environmental impact:
- Switch from conventional lighting to LED. This effort has begun at most of the Accell Group companies.
- Many warehouses and offices are fitted with motion sensors, so lights are only on when someone is present.
- Companies have switched to more efficient and/or more sustainable heating systems.
- Increasing awareness among employees, such as encouraging them to turn off lights and computers.
- The companies are taking a critical look at the choice of transport modes for transport and distribution, and use trains wherever possible.
- A great deal of attention is being devoted to analysing the quality of the distribution processes, with the aim of limiting the number of damaged items returned. This saves money and transport kilometres.
- The number of kilometres employees fly is reduced by online meetings.
The results of these measures are monitored by annually measuring energy consumption and CO2 emissions. As in other material aspects, here too we benchmark the companies’ performances every year and they learn from each other’s best practices.
We moved to reporting in accordance with GRI G4 from 2015. The data includes the energy consumption of lease cars and kilometres driven for the company. We also added the data of the Asian companies, which makes a comparison with previous years irrelevant.
In addition to bicycles, accessories and parts, Accell companies also produce waste from their everyday operations. Waste that needs to be processed, which has an environmental impact to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the type of material and the processing method.
Accell Group’s policy is to separate waste before disposal and earmark it for recycling and/or reuse as much as possible. The opportunities to do so vary per country and even per region. Accell companies register waste flows to increase awareness among its management and employees and highlight upward or downward trends in the quantities of waste.
We benchmark the results, highlighting best practices, once again enabling our various companies to learn from each other. The amount of waste, divided into type of material and environmental impact, is monitored annually.
Goal: to reduce the environmental impact per bicycle from waste combined with packaging (expressed in CO2 equivalents) by 2% to 4% per annum.
Accell Group is an important player in the value chain of the bicycle sector and therefore in a good position to encourage sustainability among parties on both the supply side and the distribution side.
Key aspects at suppliers are compliance with human rights, sound employment practices and environmental protection. In addition, working with chemical substances and compliance with legislation for the registration of chemical substances (REACH) are an important priority. Chemical substances are used to paint parts such as the frame and the front fork, and they are also found in plastic bicycle parts, such as saddles and hand grips.
Figure: Value chain
Compliance with human rights, sound employment practices and environmental protection
Accell Group has its own code of conduct for suppliers and all suppliers are asked to sign the code. Accell Group has teamed up with the WFSGI (World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry) and launched an initiative to make the supply chain more sustainable. In 2012, the WFSGI set up a taskforce with Accell Group as its chair. The task force has been given the task developing of a sector-wide audit-approach to make the supply chain more sustainable. The premise of the approach is that the bicycle industry, in cooperation and consultation with the suppliers, wants to help improve the supply chain, using the WFSGI code of conduct as the substantive basis for any changes. The industry also wants to avoid double audits and audit-data is shared via the Fair Factory Clearinghouse (FFC) platform. The task force is due to complete its pilot project in early 2016 and will subsequently expand the initiative to include other players in the bicycle sector under the name RSI – Responsible Sport Initiative / bicycles.
Accell Group constantly works on streamlining the supply chain. At the moment, Accell Group companies and their wholesalers together have more than 500 relevant suppliers of products and parts. Accell Group generates substantial turnover with around 130 of those suppliers. In the coming years, Accell Group will audit its main suppliers in accordance with the RSI. The initial focus will be on the approximately 100 suppliers. Our ambition is to conduct 15 audits a year ourselves. Additional information from a greater number of other suppliers will become available via the FFC audit platform.
In 2015, pilot audits were conducted at five Accell Group suppliers. The key findings from these audits were: poor administration, including hour registration and permits, exceeding legal working hours / overtime at certain times of the year , overdue maintenance on the buildings, incorrect storage of hazardous substances and insufficient attention to emergency escape routes and fire prevention.
Following the audits, the findings were summarised in Corrective Action Plans (CAP), in which priorities and timelines are drawn up on the basis of urgency. We will subsequently follow up together with the suppliers to improve in line with the CAP. We will check the progress regularly and outline additional actions where necessary in order to realise the agreements.
Accell Group complies with REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances) and aims to work only with registered substances, under the right conditions and with the right protective measures in place. Where possible, we work with alternative substances without hazardous components. Accell Group does not use chrome-plated frames. The paint shops use 100% water-based paints.
REACH testing lab
In 2012, Accell Group set up its own testing lab to check whether components and parts comply with legislation. Accell Group has its own toxicological testing protocol that combines the relevant REACH and national legislative requirements.
Regular updates of lists such as the Candidate list SVHC (Substance of Very High Concern) are included in the toxicological testing protocol immediately. If necessary, we add additional validation tests. We test existing and newly specified articles on the basis of risk-assessment. Accell Group asks its suppliers to sign a REACH compliance statement.
In 2015, we tested around 350 new items according to the Accell Group toxicological test protocol, during which more than 8,000 analyses were carried out. In 2015, the focus was on testing accessories and clothing. In 33% of tests, the results led us to initiate discussions with the supplier. The main deviations were found in the use of incorrect fire-retardant materials, softeners and PAHs, which are frequently used in production processes. We looked for alternatives together with the supplier. Where these were not available, we have opted for an alternative product.