Read about what the adidas Group is doing to reduce the impacts of its leather suppliers and also see the piece from Greenpeace on their campaign to highlight the links between leather and Amazon rainforest destruction.
Various environmental impacts occur at the different stages in the leather supply chain. For example, extended cattle ranching can cause deforestation and tanning uses significant quantities of water and chemicals. The adidas Group takes steps to address these impacts.
The company does not source raw materials from any endangered or threatened species, as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in its red list. The policy also prohibits using leathers from animals that have been inhumanely treated, whether these animals are wild or farmed.
Through a report issued by Greenpeace in 2009 we were made aware of the level of illegal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest caused by the increasing expansion of the cattle sector. We have been engaging with Greenpeace and our leather suppliers and have discussed the report findings. As a result, accompanied by a number of other international brands, we have called for a moratorium on cutting down the Brazilian rainforest. We have asked our suppliers to support this goal and have set them a range of requirements. The key one is that the cattle and meat industry develops a traceable and transparent system to provide credible assurances that leather used in adidas Group products is only from cattle raised on ranches that have not been recently deforested.Our latest statements on leather
Tanning is the process of making leather from the skins of animals, the hides. The tanning process uses chemicals and considerable amounts of water. So we have been working with a group of companies, researchers and brands - the BLC Leather Working Group - on guidelines for how our leather suppliers should measure the environmental performance of their tanneries. We insist that our leather suppliers use these guidelines, known as an 'audit protocol' and achieve BLC compliance.BLC Leather Working Group
Here Oliver Salge and Tobias Riedl from Greenpeace Germany report on the Greenpeace investigation into leather that comes from cattle raised on illegally deforested Amazon rainforest.
The Amazon rainforest is crucial to mankind for many reasons: it is one of the richest places for biodiversity, it is home to indigenous people and it is crucial in saving our global climate. Three-quarters of all greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil comes from deforestation, which makes Brazil the fourth biggest climate polluter in the world. An area about double the size of Germany - 74 million hectares - has already been destroyed. The main reason is cattle ranching: about 80% of all deforested land in the Amazon is used as new pastures for cattle.
A three-year investigation by Greenpeace, summarised in the report "Slaughtering the Amazon", uncovered how major cattle companies operating in Brazil are involved in illegal deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, the occupation of indigenous land and slave labour. Meat and leather from cattle raised on new and illegally deforested areas within the pristine Amazon rainforest was regularly showing up at tanneries and meat processing plants. The report also revealed how global brands such as adidas are linked to this deforestation through the supply of leather hides from these cattle companies. Leather shoes worn by millions of people can be linked to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
Greenpeace asked major footwear companies including adidas to support an end to rainforest destruction. If the footwear brands sent clear signals to their suppliers that they do not want to source leather hides involved in Amazon deforestation, then there would be a huge incentive for the cattle companies to change their ranching practices.
On the day a handful of Greenpeace activists delivered the report of the investigation to adidas headquarters in Herzogenaurach, adidas entered into a dialogue with Greenpeace, which continues to this day. Within weeks adidas and other footwear companies drafted new purchasing policies demanding their leather suppliers end Amazon deforestation and set up a system guaranteeing the supplied leather products do not originate from cattle raised at new pastures within the Amazon rainforest. This move in turn encouraged the cattle companies to enter negotiations with Greenpeace about a moratorium on deforestation.
This pressure from the footwear sector, together with the demands from leading supermarkets and a prosecution case brought against one of the cattle companies led to a breakthrough. On October 5th, 2009 the four main cattle companies agreed with Greenpeace about the so-called 'Zero deforestation' criteria, which, if implemented, will bring an end to Amazon deforestation for cattle ranching from now on.
Fully implementing this commitment to ensure zero deforestation will be a big step and it won't happen without continued engagement between Greenpeace and the brands. We call on adidas to build on the progress so far and encourage their Brazilian suppliers to bring deforestation to an end.Read the full Greenpeace report
Cattle ranching can cause deforestation and we are working with our suppliers to tackle this.