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Response to Greenpeace Report on the use of chemicals in the outdoor industry

November 06, 2012

Herzogenaurach, 6 November 2012 - On October 29th, 2012, Greenpeace Germany published a report on the use of chemicals in the outdoor industry, "Chemistry for any weather". The report shows that one of our outdoor products was tested and contained minimal levels of PFC. We would like to emphasise that low traces of chemicals found in the product tested were within legal guidelines and regulations and best practice standards as recommended from consumer safety organisations. None of the levels found in our products pose a health or safety threat to consumers.
As a responsible company, we are committed to high standards of consumer, environmental, and worker safety. For this reason, the adidas Group has a Restricted Substances List (RSL) in place that follows the strictest legal requirements and best practice standards. We continuously monitor and control the compliance with our standards by conducting material tests in independent laboratories. All materials used in our products need to pass all our restricted substances tests. Additionally, as a Joint Roadmap member, we collaborate in the effort to lead the apparel and footwear industry toward zero discharge of hazardous chemicals (ZDHC) for all products across all pathways in our supply chains by 2020.
PFCs (perfluorinated chemicals) are a class of chemical substances that belong to the larger family known as fluorinated chemicals. These are a wide range of chemical substances that are very different in their composition and environmental profiles. Some durable water repellent treatments have historically been based on the use of PFCs and are added to textiles to improve their performance (water and oil repellency, stain and soil resistance, and stain release performance properties).
Some PFCs can break down to form other perfluorinated chemicals such as PFOA and PFOS that are known to have persistent, bio-accumulative and toxicological properties. This is why they are among the priority chemical groups that the Joint Roadmap brands are addressing. The adidas Group will, as a commitment linked to the Joint Roadmap, set a timeline for the elimination of chemical substances that can break down to form PFOS and PFOA.
Meeting the consumer demands for high-performance products is critical for us. At the same time, based on current scientific knowledge, the level of functionality and durability of certain finishes cannot be reached with PFC-free solutions. In light of this challenge, the ZDHC brands including the adidas Group are collaborating with the industry and have reached out to chemical suppliers, academics, textile experts, and others to evaluate the availability of PFC-free technologies that can meet the expected performance requirements of our products.
Finally, a consortium of major providers of PFC containing chemicals, which our material suppliers primarily source chemical ingredients from, have already announced in 2006 to phase out PFOS and PFOAS from their chemical products by 2015 completely and have reported significant progress made to date. Please see: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/pfoa/pubs/stewardship/index.html.