Chemicals and Water
Managing the environmental impacts at our own sites and along the entire value chain is a key focus of our work. We continue to address water efficiency and quality, with an advanced chemical management program in place.
A substantial portion of environmental impact occurs, at different intensities, throughout the supply chain. Therefore, for adidas, sourcing is not only about ensuring high product quality and timely delivery, we are also working with our suppliers to ensure they are continuously optimizing their environmental footprint in the areas of energy use, carbon emissions, water, wastewater, chemicals and waste. Strategic suppliers at Tier 1 and Tier 2 level who produce most of our products are enrolled in our environmental program. We partner closely with them and provide the training required to progressively improve their footprint.
Guided by our ambition to support our suppliers in the best possible way, we have developed environmental good practice guidelines with water saving initiatives. Through the application of new technologies and other solutions, we aim to achieve a 40% reduction in water intensity at Tier 2 supplier facilities by 2025, using 2017 as a baseline.
adidas has been building and implementing a leading chemical management program in its supply chain over several years. We have defined an end-to-end approach spanning the management of chemical input, monitoring the chemical management in our supply chain, and reporting supplier performance data publicly.
Ensuring robust input chemical management: To avoid hazardous chemicals entering into our supply chain, by 2025, our aim is to have 80% of the supplier facilities that manage chemicals in their production process to have achieved the highest level of compliance (level 3) with the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) 'Manufacturing Restricted Substances List' for 80% of their input chemicals. Our suppliers report their chemical inventory and consumption through a third-party online platform on a monthly basis.
Monitoring output chemical management: Pollution abatement is critically important for the textile industry, which is why we have set targets for suppliers for managing their wastewater discharge performance. By 2025, we aim for 80% of suppliers that operate on-site effluents plants to achieve ZDHC Wastewater ‘foundational level’. To support facilities in their continuous improvement of wastewater discharge quality, we have rolled out an effluent treatment plant evaluation that supports them in strengthening their control of wastewater discharge.
Disclosure: All of our strategic suppliers are required to test their wastewater twice a year according to the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines. The results of these tests must be disclosed on the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) DETOX platform and the ZDHC Gateway platform.
Supplier audits Over the years, we have developed a series of guidelines for our suppliers. For example, the Health and Safety Guidelines specify standards for chemical storage, use and protection requirements, as well as chemicals that cannot be used during manufacturing for health and safety reasons. They are the basis for factory inspections and assessments conducted by us and external auditors. Further requirements on chemical management waste water discharge are detailed in adidas' Environmental Guidelines and the Environmental Good Practice Guideline and Toolkit.
Product safety: The adidas 'A-01' Restricted Substances List (RSL) is recognized across our industry and was created to reduce the use of hazardous substances in the textile and apparel supply chain. In 1998, we adopted this comprehensive RSL for product materials, prohibiting the use of chemicals considered to be harmful or toxic. We continue to develop and update this policy on an ongoing basis to ensure we do not use banned or restricted chemicals in our products.
Collaboration: The management of chemicals in multi-tiered supply chains is a complex challenge, requiring many organizations playing a role in achieving effective and sustainable solutions. We hold strong relationships within the sustainability community and engage openly with our stakeholders. For example, we actively engage with organizations such as the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals group (ZDHC), the Apparel & Footwear International Restricted Substances Management Working Group (AFIRM), the International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec) Business Group, Better Cotton and the Leather Working Group (LWG).
An Integrated Management System (IMS) helps us to secure all relevant ISO management certifications across our administrative offices, distribution centers, production sites, and own retail stores. These include environmental management (ISO 14001), health and safety management (ISO 45001), energy management (ISO 50001), and – introduced in 2021 and planned to obtain for 2022 – facility management (ISO 41001). We aim to further expand these certifications to more key sites through implementation of the standards and both internal and external audits, as these support us to achieve our energy, water, waste, and health and safety targets.
We will continue to improve the water efficiency at our highest consuming sites, aiming for a 15% reduction in water consumption per square meter for own operations by 2025, measured against 2019.
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and phthalates: In 2000, we were one of the first companies in the global consumer goods sector to virtually eliminate PVC from our products. Alternatives have been found and nearly all styles in our global product range are now PVC-free. However, in a few countries, alternatives are not available and we remain committed to finding solutions in the longer term. In 2003, we also eliminated the use of polyethylene chloride, since it has a similar environmental footprint as PVC. We are also encouraging a move to printing with phthalate-free inks. Some of our business units have made the changeover in their owned facilities and more and more of their suppliers are changing over, too.
Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs): In 2013, in the framework of the joint roadmap for the elimination of hazardous chemicals by 2020, we committed to phasing out the use of long-chain PFCs by no later than January 1, 2015. As a further step, we committed to being 99% PFC-free by no later than December 31, 2017. By the end of 2018, we met the further target of being more than 99% free of poly- and perfluorinated substances in our products for the fall/winter 2019 season.
Volatile organic compounds: The Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) typically found in solvents used in our manufacturing process can – in high concentrations – cause breathing difficulties and other health problems for production workers. Therefore, for more than a decade, we have requested that our footwear suppliers significantly reduce the use of VOCs in their manufacturing. By applying innovative and environmentally sound bonding and priming technologies while following the adidas guidelines on the use of chemicals, our athletic footwear suppliers have been able to reduce the use of VOCs significantly, for example through the use of water-based primers and reactive hot-melt adhesives.