SUSTAINABILITY GENERAL APPROACH
Our ambition is to be a sustainable company.
Being a sustainable business is about striking the balance between shareholder expectations and the needs and concerns of our employees, the workers in our supply chain and the environment. We truly believe that acting as a responsible business – one which is fully committed to respecting human rights– will contribute to lasting economic success.
OUR APPROACH TO HUMAN RIGHTS
We are continuously working towards becoming a more sustainable company. While we have been in this game for a long time, we will never stop learning and improving our sustainability efforts. For us, it is about being prepared, setting the right pace and having both the drive and stamina to go the distance. It is about being persistent, overcoming setbacks and difficulties and never giving up on the overall goal. Just like a true athlete never would.
OUR SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGY
We have a long track record in sustainability and are proud of our accomplishments, but we will never rest on our laurels. We constantly strive to improve our sustainable performance while acting upon our leadership role and listening to the expectations of our stakeholders and consumers. One example is our extended Sustainability Strategy, which pushes the limits of our own ambitions further than ever before. A direct outcome of our business strategy ‘Creating the New’, it translates our overall sustainable efforts into tangible goals that have a direct impact on the world of sport we operate in.
As a global sports company, we believe that through sport we have the power to change lives. This is supported by research we have conducted. It shows that our consumers believe that sport makes us healthy and happy, that it creates value and empowers people. An impressive 92% even say that sport has a positive impact on our society. But for sport to change lives, it needs a space to exist, a field to play on, an ocean to surf or a mountain to climb – and these spaces are increasingly endangered due to man-made issues including human rights violations, pollution, growing energy consumption and waste. Based on our love of sport and responsibility as a globally operating company, we want to be the guardians of these spaces. Thus, we have developed a holistic strategy that seriously tackles the challenges that endanger the spaces of sport and simultaneously our planet and people.
SIX STRATEGIC PRIORITIES FOR 2020
Our Sustainability Strategy identifies six strategic priorities to address the issues and challenges of the spaces where sport is made (all places where products are created, designed, manufactured and shipped), sold (own retail, wholesale and e-commerce) and played (from the indoor court to the outdoor pitch all over the world). Following the entire lifecycle of sport, our most holistic Sustainability Strategy to date supports us in creating responsibly across our entire supply chain, with tangible and measurable goals, and ensures that sport remains a source of happiness for all people.
SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGY: PROGRESS MADE IN 2016 (HIGHLIGHTS)
We have been working towards sustainability for many years and recognize that the task ahead of us is a marathon, not a sprint. Whether it is about global supply chain management, environmental footprint, or community programmes, adidas has been running leadership programmes for years. Key steps in our sustainability journey are:
WE HAVE ALWAYS CARED FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
This is why we banned the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) for all our products. SF6 gases, which are also amongst the most severe ozone-depleting substances, have never been used for our products because we were well aware of their adverse impacts on the environment.
CREATING THE FUNDAMENTALS FOR EFFECTIVE SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT
- In 1998, building on already existing initiatives, adidas developed its initial supplier code of conduct, now called Workplace Standards. The Standards are based on international human rights and labor rights conventions. They are contractual obligations under the manufacturing agreements adidas signs with all its suppliers.
- The “Social & Environmental Affairs” team was established to ensure suppliers’ compliance with the company’s Workplace Standards.
- In 1998, we also adopted a comprehensive and detailed Restricted Substances Policy for product materials, prohibiting the use of chemicals considered as harmful or toxic. This was the first policy in the industry that clearly indicated test and pre-treatment methods for restricted substances. Some of the initiatives that were thus generated were the phase-out of PVC materials from our main product categories, again the first company in our industry to do so, as well as the introduction of new technologies to significantly reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in footwear manufacturing by using innovative bonding technologies and water-based cement systems – both happening in the year 2000.
- Our factory in Scheinfeld, Germany, was the first in the industry to receive EMAS environmental management system certification. This was an important step in our efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of our facilities.
- 1999 marked the beginning of our formal Stakeholder Engagement approach, as adidas joined the Fair Labor Association (FLA) as a founding member. Since its inception, the FLA has focused on creating long-lasting solutions for sustainable supply chains. It is through the FLA that our supplier factories started being audited by external parties. Later, in 2005, the FLA accredited adidas’ monitoring programme for the first time.
ENTERING THE ETHICAL INVESTMENT STAGE
For the first time, adidas was selected to join the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI), which was positively welcomed by investors who integrate sustainability considerations into their portfolios. To date, adidas has since been listed in the DJSI every year.
RAISING THE BAR THROUGH PUBLIC SUSTAINABILITY REPORTING
It was in a spirit of transparency and responsiveness towards its stakeholders that the company published its first Sustainability Report. Still today, adidas is the only company in the sporting goods industry which publishes a Sustainability Report on an annual basis.
MORE GUIDELINES TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT
A big year for the environment, as adidas launched its Environmental, Health & Safety Guidelines, as well as the Guide to Best Environmental Practice. These are comprehensive and detailed standards for suppliers on handling, storage and disposal of chemicals, wastewater treatment and effluents. As part of this, we were the first company in our industry to introduce a ban on six high-risk and hazardous chemicals used in our manufacturing facilities. The guidelines were published and several brands in the apparel and sportswear industry have asked for permission to use our guidelines when dealing with their own suppliers.
IT IS ALL ABOUT SAVING RESOURCES
- This year marks the birth of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), of which we are a founding member. The BCI addresses the negative social and environmental impacts of mainstream cotton farming, such as excessive pesticide and water use. Better Cotton is grown in a way that reduces the number of chemicals used.
- Virtualisation became a strategic initiative for adidas. It allows a reduction of the quantity of physical samples required to design and sell new products. With virtualization, resources and money are saved by reducing material waste, transportation and distribution costs. And with fewer samples being flown around the globe, carbon emissions are also reduced!
- In this year, adidas also spearheaded the introduction of Human Resources Management Systems in major footwear factories, a key step towards improved supply chain management.
EXPANSION OF OUR STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY
We became a member of the Fair Factories Clearinghouse, an industry-leading compliance data-sharing platform, which Reebok had co-founded, as well as the Leather Working Group, key to the establishment of an audit protocol for all our leather suppliers.
REACHING NEW HEIGHTS THROUGH SUPPLIER DISCLOSURE AND PRODUCT SUSTAINABILITY
- This year could be called the year of transparency, as adidas voluntarily disclosed its global supplier factory list. While we were not the first in the industry to do so, we raised the bar for the whole industry a few years later when, in 2010, as the Official Sponsor, Licensee and Outfitter of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, adidas disclosed the list of factories involved with the production of World Cup products. We were the first and only FIFA sponsor to do so. Since then, we have disclosed the list of factories manufacturing 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ products, as well as the list for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Here as well, we were the first Olympic partner to disclose its supply chain for the Olympic Games.
- 2007 was also a cornerstone moment for the adidas brand, with the set-up of its product sustainability programme, aimed at increasing the sustainability attributes of the brand’s global product offering. One of the earliest outputs of this new programme was the adidas Grün collection, one of the very first adidas sustainable product ranges.
FOCUSING ON ENVIRONMENTAL AUDITS FOR SUPPLIERS
Our auditing programme expanded its scope, as we started dedicated environmental audits at our supplier sites – based on a rigorous environmental audit protocol that includes chemicals management (risk management, handling, use and storage of chemicals). As of 2010, mills and dyehouses were included into our audit scope as well. In 2012, nearly 200 environmental audits were conducted, 50 of which at mills and dyehouses.
DRIVING POSITIVE CHANGE IN THE INDUSTRY
- In this year, we acted as the lead party in a supplier-brand caucus formed to engage with Indonesia's trade union movement on the topic of the exercise of trade union rights in the workplace. An agreement was reached and signed in Jakarta in June 2011. The protocol is recognized as a landmark achievement in Indonesian labor rights.
- adidas started its collaboration with Better Work, an innovative partnership programme between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to improve both compliance with labor standards and competitiveness in global supply chains. We also became a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the aim of which is to create an industry tool to assess a product’s sustainability on both environmental and social factors.
- Finally, adidas launched its Environmental Strategy, which demonstrated the company’s ongoing commitment to embedding environmental sustainability in all products, processes and services to significantly improve adidas' environmental footprint.
TACKLING THE “FAIR WAGE” QUESTION
- adidas has been looking at the issue of “Fair Wages” since 2002 and we continue to explore possible solutions that the whole industry might adopt. In 2011, 25 adidas suppliers in eight countries – Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, Vietnam, China, El Salvador and Thailand – participated in a Fair Wage self-assessment questionnaire. The assessments have helped us improve the way we monitor compensation and pay issues at supplier factories and we have integrated the Fair Wage idea into our supplier training on Human Resources Management Systems.
- Also, adidas was one of the founding members of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Initiative, launched to drive change in industry practices when it comes to responsible chemical management. In this framework, we have committed to the phase-out of long-chain PFCs by no later than January 1, 2015.
PRODUCT SUSTAINABILITY IS KING
- The collection for the London 2012 Olympic Games was the most sustainable adidas collection ever produced. At the same time, adidas DryDye was launched: a new technology which eliminates the need for water in the dying process, therefore also reducing the use of chemicals. Within a year, we were able to achieve 1 million yards of DryDye fabric produced!
- adizero Primeknit hit the market, introducing a new way of making products with no textile waste.
- In the supply chain, adidas introduced an SMS for workers project at one of the company’s main footwear suppliers in Indonesia to improve the communication between factory workers and management.
ALWAYS LOOKING FOR SMARTER WAYS TO MAKE OUR PRODUCTS
- After the successful launch of the Element Soul shoe in fall/winter 2012, the Element Voyager shoe was brought to market in the summer season 2013. With 95% pattern efficiency, the Element Voyager is down to 5% waste. The complete Element Voyager shoe is made with environmentally preferred materials. In apparel, adidas produced a full activewear line featuring t-shirts, tanks, tights, skirts and shorts with 95% pattern efficiency (only 5% waste). Low Waste is an innovative way to create our products in a more intelligent way.
- On top of that, all adidas Sport Performance footwear newly created for 2013 use sustainable components such as environmentally preferable materials.
- The company is also listed for the 14th consecutive time in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes and named the leader in the “Textiles, Apparel & Luxury Goods Industry” for the tenth time.
CONTINUING MAKING PROGRESS
- Off to a good start: in January, adidas ranks among the top 10 companies in the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World, the most extensive data-driven corporate sustainability assessment in existence. To be more precise, the company ranks 8th.
- In spring, adidas presents its “4 P” sustainability strategy. The strategy is rooted in the company’s values – performance, passion, integrity and diversity and built on the achievements and learnings from previous years while taking into account the societal landscape and future global trends.
- Taking chemical innovation to the next level: in June, adidas announces a strategic partnership with bluesign technologies to further drive sustainable solutions in the company’s global supply chain. Furthermore, adidas commits to being 99% PFC free by no later than December 31, 2017.
- In November, we celebrate more than 25 years of manufacturing in Indonesia, one of our key sourcing locations. This long history of manufacturing in the country is a testament to the adidas sourcing strategy, which focuses on key strategic partnerships with its supplier base.
- Saving ever more water thanks to DryDye: by the end of 2014, the company has produced 4 million yards of DryDye fabric, saving 100 million liters of water.
SETTING THE BAR HIGH
- On the podium of the most sustainable companies worldwide: In January, adidas is ranked among the top three of most sustainable companies worldwide. It is recognized as best European company and a leader in its industry in the Global 100 Index by Corporate Knights.
- In April, adidas announces a partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an environmental organization and collaboration network that raises awareness for the beauty and fragility of the oceans and implements comprehensive strategies to end their destruction. As a founding member, adidas supports Parley for the Oceans in its efforts in communication and education, research and development, direct action and eco innovation. The mutual focus is on Parley's comprehensive Ocean Plastic Program, which is led by the Parley A.I.R. Strategy (Avoid, Intercept, and Redesign) to end ocean plastic pollution.
- First footwear made with Ocean Plastic: In June, in the unique surroundings of the United Nations Headquarters adidas showcases an innovative footwear concept born from its collaboration with Parley for the Oceans.
- Fighting climate change:In September, the adidas joins the UN Climate Neutral Now initiative to promote a wider understanding of the need and the opportunities for society to become climate neutral as well as to showcase that many organizations are already taking concrete action in this direction.
- Innovating to closing the loop: In September, adidas presents ‘Sport Infinity’, a research project led by adidas and funded by the European Commission, bringing together a variety of industry and academic experts. The aim of the project is to develop a material that can be endlessly recycled using a waste-free, adhesive-free process.
- In December, on the occasion of COP21, adidas and Parley for the Oceans showcase strategic sustainability for the industry presenting an innovative footwear concept, the 3D-printed Ocean Plastic shoe midsole, to demonstrate how the industry can re-think design and contribute to stopping ocean plastic pollution. Click here to watch a recap video of the event.
SPORT NEEDS A SPACE
- One of the best worldwide, again: adidas is listed fifth among the 'Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World' and is recognized as the leader in its industry. It is the third consecutive year that the company is included in the Top 10 of the Global 100 Index.
- In April, adidas launches its Sustainability Strategy ‘Sport needs a space’. Deeply rooted in the company’s core belief that through sport we have the power to change lives, the strategy translates the company’s sustainable efforts into tangible goals and measurable objectives until 2020. The new Sustainability Strategy is a holistic strategy framework that follows the entire lifecycle of sport, from the spaces where sport is made (all places where products are created, designed, manufactured and shipped), sold (own retail, wholesale and e-commerce) and played (from the indoor court to the outdoor pitch all over the world).
- We go plastic-bag free in our stores: As of April, plastic shopping bags are removed from the company’s own retail stores globally.
- 50 ambassadors to save the oceans: In June, adidas announces the release of a limited number of the iconic running shoe showcased at the United Nations. The shoes were not for sale though. People had to ‘earn’ their pair by entering a creative Instagram contest, taking a pledge and committing to take action.