They don’t want to choose between a green product and a non-green product. But how green are our products? To ensure a sustainable product creation process we have implemented a detailed approach:
Design for Environment (DfE) is an approach that ensures environmental considerations are part of the product creation process, which is when the product is designed and developed. We apply a DfE approach to our product creation process. We ask ourselves questions such as:
- What impacts are due to the origin of the material?
- How can we use fewer resources?
- Where can we use recycled and sustainable materials?
- What about minimising carbon emissions?
- Will the final product be safe for consumers?
Three key approaches shape the framework and practice of "eco-design":
- Life cycle thinking
- Decrease environmental impacts early in the design process
- Environment as an additional design requirement.
For example, in spring/summer 2013, we debuted the Element Voyager shoe, which is a result of a new and holistic approach that requires thinking outside the box and including functional, quality and sustainable aspects. This highly minimalised running shoe incorporates sustainable fabrics such as recycled polyester and soybean-based foams, a one-piece injection mid-sole and high pattern efficiency, resulting in a simplified yet high-performance running shoe.
adidas Better Place
As part of the Design for Environment approach, the adidas brand launched the adidas Better Place programme in 2007. Its aim is to guide and encourage the creation of more sustainable products without compromising their functional and quality performance.
The development of the sustainable product guidelines within adidas – the Better Place Apparel, Footwear and Hardware Tools – was a response to the absence of a single global standard that defines what it means to create sustainable products. The programme tools set environmental performance benchmarks that products need to qualify for to achieve the Better Place standard.
In constructing the tools, existing environmental product standards, product examples from around the globe, leading-edge materials and construction technologies were evaluated to establish meaningful and applicable guidance for designers, developers and materials sourcing. They also cover adidas Group mainstream standards as defined in the adidas Group’s policy on restricted substances as well as Environmental Guidelines that supplier factories are required to follow.
How Our Tools Work
The tools award points to each process or material based on its ability to improve against a set of environmental criteria. In the Footwear Guideline Tool, a weighting system is applied, which gives large parts (outsoles, base uppers) and large processes (pattern efficiency) more points when they reduce waste or energy than the smaller processes (closures, laces).
The Apparel Tool is based upon the same principle, with large processes carrying more weight, and action required in these areas for the product to pass the minimum level.
Points are then totalled up, and a product is ranked against three levels:
- Baseline level, containing a minimum of 5% sustainable content or process improvements
- Competitive, requiring a majority of sustainable content or process improvements
- Technically advanced in the area of sustainability, with 100% sustainable content and technology innovations.
After reviewing this methodology against industry experts, adidas created the first generation of Better Place products which was released in the marketplace in January 2009.
Better Place products are identified in stores by a special hangtag or shoe box, both of which are made from 100% recycled paper and free of glues. Every season, the Better Place concept is integrated into more sports categories and more products.
In 2012, we achieved our goal that all Sport Performance footwear reached our minimum level of sustainability as defined by our Better Place programme. We also made a huge step forward regarding apparel: products meeting our minimum level of sustainability multiplied by a factor of six, an increase of approximately 12.7 million units from 2011 to 2012. We will continue to increase the number of products meeting our minimum level of sustainability.
The number of products that have passed the baseline are shown in the table below.
Footwear (pairs in millions)
Apparel (units in millions)