Sep 20, 2022

How adidas is Embracing Low Carbon Coloration on the Road to Climate-Neutrality

On its way to becoming a climate neutral company, see how adidas is going low carbon on one of the biggest contributors to its carbon footprint: material coloration.
by Larissa Rehmeditor

According to a study by The World Resources Institute (WRI), in 2019 the apparel industry was responsible for around 2% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions– with knitting, weaving, dyeing and finishing – contributing to over 50% of those. At adidas, we acknowledge that we’re part of the problem, so we’re teaming up with our suppliers to help them decarbonize their operations, which includes the introduction of low carbon coloration innovations.

Given our commitment to climate neutrality, it’s clear that this is an area of our business that needs to be addressed, which is exactly what we’re doing. How?

"We are looking into making more use of new low carbon coloration innovations to color all our apparel fabric."

In fact, any technologies or innovations that we implement in our material coloration process must now consume less energy or bring about a reduction in CO2 emissions.

And things are going according to plan. We are on track to achieve our target for 2022, producing 8 million yards of material using three pioneering technologies: NTX™ Cooltrans™, Dope Dye and No Dye. So, let’s take a look at how they work.

Low carbon technologies that we can count on

We are striving to use less conventional dyeing and invest in new low carbon coloration technologies.We are striving to use less conventional dyeing and invest in new low carbon coloration technologies.

NTX™ Cooltrans™ is a revolutionary textile coloration solution which can accurately colour synthetic materials using significantly less heat and water than more traditional processes. It offers an almost identical appearance, feel, and functional performance as conventionally dyed fabrics, and it works very much like a printer. Currently, this solution can be applied to lightweight synthetics, but we’re looking to expand it to a wider range of materials and scale up its use in the future.

Another technology we’re using is ‘Dope Dye’ – a process where pigments are added to the material before turning it into yarn. No further coloration of the fabric is required. This technology enables us to save water, energy, and chemicals and to improve the resistance of the colour of a material.

No Dye: A sustainable product that also looks the part.No Dye: A sustainable product that also looks the part.

Finally, we’ve also integrated ‘No Dye’ into our supply base. This completely eliminates the coloration process by using materials in their raw color. No dye products offer an intuitively sustainable aesthetic, and at the same time we reduce the use of chemicals, dyestuffs, water, and energy. As it’s only possible to do one colorway, No Dye can’t be applied to every single product we make, but we will use this approach alongside other low carbon coloration technologies.

"No dye products offer an intuitively sustainable aesthetic"

Where we are committed to go

Looking ahead to 2023, we’ve set ourselves a number of ambitious goals. In addition to converting more fabric to NTX™ Cooltrans™ and Dope Dye, we are also looking to enable and scale other new and sustainable coloration technologies.

We also plan to scale up this project by almost 400% in terms of the yard volume we’re coloring. This means an increase from 8 million to ~40 million yards. We will share our learnings across the entire company to bring both our Footwear and Accessories & Gear teams on our journey.

Coloration is just one aspect of our business that supports our journey to become a climate neutral company. Keep an eye out for further updates to come.

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