GRN creates sustainable sportswear from recycled waste products. Director Peter Lillie explains what makes the company so innovative, and why it is entered into Innovation Showcase at this year's Venturefest Tees Valley.
Describe your business in no more than 100 words
We create performance sportswear that is made ethically and sustainably, producing cycling, triathlon and athletic wear for teams and individuals out of waste products, including plastic bottles and abandoned fishing nets.
There are three cornerstones to our business:
1. Our sports clothing made from ethically sourced sustainable/recycled materials; including plastic bottles, fishing nets. We encourage and support a circular economy.
2.We manufacture all our technical clothing in the UK. This supports UK industry, and reduces our carbon footprint, whilst allowing us to be more responsive to our customer’s needs.
3. Quality materials – A significant amount of time was focused on finding the correct material for each individual item of clothing. We have an exclusivity agreement on the supply of the recycled fabric we use for our cycling jerseys, running vests and BMX jerseys giving us a unique offering within our market. We have recently launched the world’s most sustainable racing skin suit.
What prompted you to enter the innovation showcase?
The chance to showcase our brand and tell our story, meet likeminded people and look for potential partners to work with.
Describe the innovation that you’ve entered the showcase with.
We make use of innovative technologies which break down waste materials to extrude high-quality yarns, from which we manufacture high-performance sportswear. This is unique in the market place.
We developed a B2B and B2C model in which we provide individual web shops for clients with a direct link to our ordering process. This enables our customers clients to order 24/7 365 days a year.
Every jersey we make uses approximately 7 recycled plastic bottles and uses 60% less energy and 94% less water to produce than the alternative from virgin materials. For every tonne of recycled material used in GRN’s cycle shorts and tri-suits 1.26 tonnes of waste to landfill are avoided, 7 barrels of crude oil are saved and 4.2 tonnes of CO2 emissions are saved (86.5 GJ on total process energy saved). Supply chains are kept as short as possible to reduce emissions and are entirely transparent to ensure fair payment and treatment of workers.
How would you describe that innovation to your grandparents?
It’s unique high-performance sportswear you can be proud of, made from recycled materials designed manufactured and sold from the UK.
What are the best and worst parts of trying to be innovative in your business?
The best is that it is exciting being original, educating the market place, finding new opportunities, and encouraging regional growth.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Education, Brand awareness, Scalable manufacturing. Within the next 12-18 months we are planning on setting up our own manufacturing facility in the Tees Valley and believe that through creating local jobs and developing UK further manufacturing we can further reduce the environmental impact of our clothing, whilst increasing the benefits to the local economy.
Where do you get support and advice to help you run your business?
Digital city, Tees Valley Business Compass, Teesside University and the DIT.
What does being chosen for the innovation showcase mean to you?
Our goal is to create a circular economy within the Tees Valley where all our sportswear is designed, manufactured and shipped within at 20 miles radius of the Teesside University hub. The ability to showcase what we do will hopefully enable us to take a step further towards that goal
Where do you see your company in five years’ time?
An internationally recognized sportswear brand and the de facto standard for sports clubs looking for ethically made, highly performant sportswear.
What would you tell businesses who are hoping to be more innovative?
Do it. If not you then who? If not now then when?