How BIG MAX Golf Trolleys Have Become More Sustainable
BIG MAX has been a hugely successful trolley and golf bag brand for decades, but founder of the company, Thomas Reiter, has recently shifted the measure of success to another definition as they seek to achieve a sustainable legacy.
“I’m incredibly proud of everything we have achieved with BIG MAX," he explains. "From an idea in 1994 for a 3 wheel push trolley we have created arguably the biggest push trolley and golf bag brand in the world. All from Austria, where we are not known for world leading golf brands! We now have manufacturing facilities and distribution networks all over the world but with that growth and success comes an inevitable environmental impact which I believe we have a duty to recognise and address.
“When you start as a manufacturer the primary focus is how you buy and use resources in the most cost efficient way. But as a market leader I feel a responsibility to lead, and that means showing that you can minimise your environmental impact while innovating and making a profit.”
Innovation is at the heart of all BIG MAX products, and that ethos has now spread to the manufacturing processes themselves. This is perhaps best shown in the brand’s recent switch to a new system for powder coating all of its push and electric carts. Thomas continues.
“Last year we decided to remove the use of solvents from the finish of our trolleys. You need to take a lot of care when using and disposing of solvents, and the reality is that even if you dispose of them safely, they are still a pollutant. So we decided to create a solution that gave a strong protective finish without any solvents. Our engineers have developed a powder coating treatment that means we don’t buy any solvents, don’t have to pay for disposal and the factory workers don’t have to use hazardous materials. We have actually created a more environmentally sound, safer and less expensive method for producing a great finish on the trolleys.”
This ethos of innovating to create more sustainable practices is driving changes throughout the BIG MAX business. And with an initial investment in R&D, many of the practices are producing solutions with multiple benefits.
“Because we are manufacturing in large numbers, we can choose factories that share our vision for sustainability and invest in businesses that want to minimise their environmental impact. I see this again as part of leading. If we can show that manufacturing can be done in a cost effective and sustainable way, then other factories and brands will inevitably follow suit.
“We have worked with one factory in Vietnam for 28 years, and we have grown together with a shared vision for sustainability based around the idea of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We have reduced our energy consumption by fitting 39,348m2 of solar panels to run our machines. This number of panels also reduces the temperature inside the factory by three to five degrees making for a better working environment and reducing the need for any air conditioning. We collect rainwater from the factory roof into 1.58 million gallon water tanks, using it across the factory and for watering the trees and flowers. We have reduced the number of welds in every trolley and use robots in the process to improve efficiency as the by-products of welding causes air pollution. We recycle all waste plastic and putting it back into our supply chain, making sure none is wasted. And all of our trolley packaging now comes with zero plastic and all non-essential plastic is removed from packaging across the whole business.
“One of my favourite innovations is the use of re-cycled plastics to create a protective cover for our Aqua golf bags. Once you take the cover off the bag, you turn it upside down and it becomes a clothing carrier. I love this because it uses recycled plastics, it reduces our plastic use where the Aqua bags used to arrive in plastic covers, and it re-uses a part of our packaging for another purpose. To get all three Rs is fantastic!”
In addition to the developments in manufacturing practices BIG MAX has recently announced an ambitious environmental initiative called Trees for Trolleys with the Jane Goodall Institute. As part of the launch of its 2022 line of electric trolleys, BIG MAX has committed to the reforestation of tropical Ugandan forests by planting a tree for every electric trolley it produces. In addition, BIG MAX will help fund projects that promote awareness in local Ugandan communities of the environmental importance of re-forested areas, train forest rangers to monitor and protect the forest, and promote ongoing research into the local eco-system.
“For us, being market leaders means a lot more than just sales. If we can lead the way in creating business practices and manufacturing processes that reduce impact on the environment, then we are being successful. I know that I speak from a privileged position of having had a lot of traditional ‘success’ but that is why we can show the way to others. We have invested in these processes, but we are now showing that sustainability and business success are compatible. In many cases we are actually reducing our costs. To be able to make these changes at BIG MAX makes me very proud. My aim now is to keep innovating so that we can truly say that we are ‘successful’ in all areas of the business.”
For more information, please visit https://uk.bigmaxgolf.com/.
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