Inside Santini's nearly plastic-free headquarters
Receiving new kits is a rite of winter for every Trek-Segafredo rider; the scent of never-worn gear, the fresh designs, the perfect fit, all conjuring visions of a solo attack on a sunny Pyreneeen day in July.
For years the 200-plus pieces of gear that riders receive every year — from jerseys, to shoes, to gloves, to bibs — also came wrapped in plastic, but for the second year in a row Trek-Segafredo and Santini will be doing away with the unnecessary packaging and folding everything directly into boxes to be handed out at training camp. Not only does this initiative save about 3,000 bags, or 150 kilograms, of plastic from ultimately landing in the trash, but it also removes one more barrier standing between riders and their swag.
Edward Theuns, a Belgian rider entering his fifth year with Trek-Segafredo, goes through roughly the same ritual every year.
“I think every cyclist is happy to wear a new kit, discover what’s new from Santini, discover new details of the jersey,” Theuns said. “The unboxing, it’s something nice to do. I always give a look to everything, if there is new stuff that I haven’t had before in particular. I want to have a bit of an overview of what’s in the box. I take everything out and then I always try to fit a bit to know if I chose the right size. When I come back home, I put everything in my team wardrobe. Every piece of gear has its place!”
Notice that there’s no fondness in Theuns’ new-gear routine for “fumbling and ripping through hundreds of plastic bags.”
“There is so much plastic involved if they put every item separated,” Theuns said. “I think it was a very good initiative from the team and Santini. It doesn’t make a big difference for us and it saves a big load of plastic.”
The idea to cut out plastic began in 2019, at the same time Santini began incorporating recycled material into their jerseys. Trek was looking for ways to make the company more green, so Leslie Zamboni, Trek Factory Racing’s product manager, pointed out that riders tear through a lot of packing material when they receive new stuff. When she spent time with the Trek-Segafredo teams during team training camps, she noticed that riders would immediately open every piece of gear to check out the new designs or make sure that they received the correct sizes. The polyethylene plastic bags essentially served no purpose.
“I saw them physically do this action in all their rooms,” Zamboni said. “We started last year and it was a good success.”
Going plastic-less also makes life much easier at the Santini factory, where sewing and packing is done by hand. Implementing the initiative was as easy as cutting out a step in the process. Because Trek-Segafredo and Santini have such a close relationship, coordinating and communicating the changes was simple.
“Every step, from production to delivery, takes place in our headquarters in Lallio, Italy,” Paola Santini, Santini’s marketing manager, said. “With the team there is a relationship of maximum trust and collaboration that allows both to streamline the process of organizing the clothing.”
Santini and Trek-Segafredo have also eliminated shipping from the equation; instead, the boxes are handed directly to the riders at camp, no mail carriers required. The time saved from no longer having to seal and ship so much gear was reallocated to quality control checks: Making sure that zippers work, stitches are done right, any defects are spotted, etc.
“For sure there is a saving of resources, first of all human,” Santini said. “The production of the clothing for the team takes a lot of work, also because the delivery times are quite tight. But by skipping the steps of packing and shipping, we lighten the work in the warehouse.”
Fewer steps help Santini feel confident that they have produced the highest quality product possible, all while making the environment a little better and making riders’ New Gear Day just a tad more enjoyable.
What better way to start a season?