adidas has joined Nike and Puma to pledge to eliminate the release of hazardous chemicals throughout its supply chain. Plotting a similar timeframe as Nike and Puma, adidas promised to eliminate the discharges across both its entire supply chain and product life cycle by 2020. Its pledge comes seven weeks after a Greenpeace report linked Adidas and other apparel brands to suppliers releasing pollution into Chinese rivers.
Since July 2011 Greenpeace International has been campaigning to drive change in our industry. They are calling for the zero discharge of all hazardous and persistent chemicals at all points in global supply chains: from the cotton fields, to the mills and dye houses that make the fabric and the garment production.
In China alone, there are an estimated 50,000 textile mills and hundreds of chemicals suppliers. To put this in context, the adidas Group buys fabric from 10 key textile mills and dye houses in China. These materials suppliers follow some of the strictest standards in the industry.
Greenpeace has directed its campaign towards sporting goods companies in the belief that they can act as a catalyst for change for the whole industry. Why? Because sporting goods companies, such as the adidas Group, are already widely recognised for their leadership when it comes to environmental sustainability.
The adidas Group has one of the most stringent restricted substances policies of any consumer goods company operating in the apparel sector. We have been working successfully on the reduction and progressive elimination of hazardous chemicals in our supply chain for more than 15 years.
Greenpeace’s Detox campaign has been characterised as a competition among brands. The simple truth, however, is that there can be no “winners” unless the industry acts together. With that objective in mind, the adidas Group has together with other brands been working tirelessly in recent weeks to bring the industry together in a forum to develop a roadmap that will address the “zero discharge” challenge that Greenpeace has posed.
That forum is planned to be held at the end of September in Amsterdam. The following statement is our commitment to deliver change.
adidas’ statement to Greenpeace
The adidas Group1 is committed to the goal of zero discharge2 of hazardous chemicals3 from our supply chain via all pathways, with a 2020 timeline.
The scale and complexity of this endeavour make this a very challenging task, which we will work on through an open and informed dialogue with all stakeholders.
If we are to deliver lasting solutions, our actions need to be guided by transparency, fact-based decision-making and based on a preventative, precautionary4 and integrated approach to chemicals management.
Within seven weeks, we will develop a roadmap specifically for the adidas Group and our entire supply chain, which will include programmes and actions that we commit to, including actions concerning disclosure. In addition, we will develop and disclose a joint roadmap to detail specific programmes and actions that we can take collectively with other brands to drive our industry towards the goal of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals.
This goal demands the collective action of industry, regulators and other stakeholders. We believe that the elimination of hazardous chemicals needs not only collaboration and partnership with our industry peers, but also a holistic and integrated approach. We will apply value-chain as well as life-cycle thinking and innovation throughout this process and to our approach for Integrated Chemicals Management.
Further, we recognise that to achieve the goal of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals, mechanisms for disclosure and transparency about the hazardous chemicals used in our global supply chains are important and necessary, in line with the ‘right to know principle’5.
A set of actions to be executed by the adidas Group within the period of these seven weeks will be:
- Request information from our suppliers in relation to the use of NPEs6 in the manufacturing processes and request that they require of their sub-suppliers to avoid the intentional use of NPEs.
- Request information from our T2 suppliers about their chemicals suppliers.
- Give renewed notice to our suppliers that they must eliminate and replace hazardous substances that have been banned from use, with a non-hazardous chemical.
- Increase the focus on chemicals management and wastewater treatment practices in our regular, comprehensive, environmental audit programme, with specific attention given to the T2 suppliers.
- Begin developing a workshop approach for designers and product developers, where the understanding and knowledge of the colour choice consequences will be enhanced, as well as screening support is delivered. This work will be supported by our target-in-progress to reduce the number of colours used.
- Continue our dialogue with peers to develop a joint roadmap.
- Engage with other brands and associations to increase the leverage of such a joint roadmap.
Furthermore, we foresee that the joint roadmap would contain activities, research and decision milestones related to the following, specific aspects:
- Application of a value-chain approach with a set of priorities and a phased approach.
- Drive the implementation of a Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.
- Develop or apply an approach to structure inventories of hazardous chemicals.
- Apply a rigorous and transparent verification procedure.
- Develop a joint generic environmental audit approach, with specific attention to, but not narrowly focussed on, chemicals management. The additional purpose will be to begin sharing audit experiences and results between brands with the ultimate aim to improve environmental audit coverage and reduce duplication.
- Develop a single standard of good environmental practices for dye houses. This will include sound chemicals management. The development will be done in wide consultation.
- Work with chemicals suppliers to develop screening, selection criteria and prioritisation approaches to drive the elimination of hazardous chemicals and the substitution with less harmful chemicals.
- Strive to define timelines for the phase-out of the prioritised hazardous substances.
- Assess the need for inclusion of additional chemicals to the RSL.
- Assess the need for inclusion of additional chemicals on lists of banned (from the manufacturing) chemicals.
- Develop mechanisms to transfer experiences with banned, phased-out chemicals from region to region and promote the global implementation of bans that have already been successfully executed in one region.
- Enter into a dialogue with scientists and regulators in different regions with the purpose of influencing the pace of regulation of hazardous chemicals and the diffusion of a global approach to regulation.
Many of these activities build on programmes and initiatives which the adidas Group is already committed to, through our existing industry collaborations, such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the OIA (Outdoor Industry Association) Working Group on Toxics and AFIRM.