The chemical company that will take over Team Sky has been accused of ‘greenwashing’ with their cycling sponsorship.
Ineos, the British firm run by billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, has stepped in to sponsor the WorldTour outfit from the start of May.
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News that Britain’s only top tier team will continue has been met with praise, but critics have raised concerns about the environmental impacts of the work Ineos does.
Friends of the Earth, an international network of environmental organisations, highlighted the campaigning done by Team Sky through their Ocean Rescue project.
Tony Bosworth from Friends of the Earth said: “Cycling is one of the UK’s most successful and popular sports, but do the likes of Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome really want to be associated with a planet-wrecking company like Ineos?
“Taking over Team Sky is the latest blatant attempt at greenwashing by Ineos.
“It’s a harsh change of tone that may see Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign to clear plastic pollution from our oceans ditched from the team jersey in favour of Ineos – one of the biggest plastic producers in Europe.”
Team Sky was closely linked with the Ocean Rescue campaign of parent company Sky, which aimed to raise awareness of single-use plastics and their impact on the seas.
The team unveiled a new Tour de France kit in 2018 that featured images of Orcas, while also vowing to eliminate single-use plastics from the outfit by 2020.
Ineos is one of the largest manufacturers of chemicals and oil products, including the production of solvents, biofuels, plastics, synthetic oils and insulation materials.
Small plastic pellets used by plastic producers like Ineos can wind up in the sea, harming wildlife and polluting the water.
The firm has committed to ensuring that these pellets do not end up in the marine environment through its Zero Pellet Loss Programme, changing the way the products are handled.
Another environmental concern centred around Ineos is the practice of fracking – drilling into the earth and blasting liquid at the rock to release natural gas inside.
Ineos has permission to explore for shale gas in parts of the north of England and the East Midlands.
Company chairman Sir Jim has criticised government regulations that force companies to cease fracking if they trigger earth tremors.
Earlier this year he said: “The government’s position is unworkable and unhelpful.
“They are playing politics with the future of the country.
“We have a non-existent energy strategy and are heading towards and energy crisis that will do long-term and irreparable damage to the economy and the government needs to decide whether they are finally going to put the country first and develop a workable UK onshore gas industry.”
Fracking is strongly opposed by environmental campaigners because of the impact of transferring the huge amounts of water needed, and the risk of earth tremors.
Team Sky declined to comment, while Ineos said it could not make a statement until the takeover in May is complete.