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Chemicals and Water

Managing the environmental impacts at our own sites and along the entire value chain is a key focus of our work. We continue to address water efficiency and quality, with an advanced chemical management program in place.
Chemicals and Water

In our supply chain, addressing environmental impacts is a priority. We collaborate with suppliers to optimize their energy use, carbon emissions, water, wastewater, chemicals, and waste. Our environmental program includes strategic suppliers at Tier 1 and Tier 2 levels, with whom we closely partner and provide training for continuous improvement. 

Guided by our ambition to best support our suppliers, we have developed environmental good practice guidelines with water saving initiatives. Through the use of new technologies and other solutions, we aim to achieve a 40% reduction in water intensity at Tier 2 supplier facilities by 2025, using 2017 as a baseline.  

adidas has made significant strides in establishing and executing a cutting-edge chemical management program within its supply chain. This comprehensive approach encompasses the oversight of chemical inputs, monitoring sustainable chemical management throughout the supply chain, and maintaining industrial benchmarked wastewater quality in all facilities. Furthermore, to enhance transparency and accountability, we have proactively published supplier performance data on public platforms. By prioritizing sustainability and environmental responsibility, we are setting new industry standards while minimizing our ecological footprint.  

  • Ensuring robust input chemical management: At adidas, sustainability and responsible practices are at the core of our brand identity. As a signatory of ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Foundation), we adhere to their guidelines, including the ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) and Wastewater GuidelinesBy 2025, our goal is for 80% of our chemical formulations used in production to achieve the highest conformance level (‘Level 3’) with ZDHC standards. To achieve this, our suppliers regularly report their chemical inventory and consumption through a third-party online platform. We closely monitor our chemical profiles to ensure compliance, environmental protection, and workers safety. Through these efforts, we strive for sustainable and responsible chemical practices
  • Monitoring management of chemical outputs: The textile industry faces a vital challenge in pollution abatement, and at adidas we have taken proactive measures to address this issue. Through regular monitoring, we have achieved impressive results in our suppliers’ wastewater discharge performance. Building on this success, we have set an even more ambitious objective. By 2025, we aim to ensure that 90% of suppliers operating on-site effluent plants attain the ZDHC Wastewater 'Foundational Level'. To facilitate continuous improvement, we have implemented an effluent treatment plant evaluation initiative, empowering suppliers to strengthen their control over wastewater discharge and meet environmental standards.
  • Disclosure: All of our strategic suppliers are required to test their wastewater twice a year according to the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines. The results of these tests must be disclosed on the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) DETOX platform and the ZDHC Gateway platform
  • Supplier audits: Our commitment is reflected in the comprehensive guidelines we have developed. Our Health and Safety Guidelines set strict standards for the storage, use, and protection of chemicals, and identifies chemicals that are prohibited for use in manufacturing due to health and safety concerns. In addition, our Environmental Guidelines and the Environmental Good Practice Guideline and Toolkit further outline our requirements for chemical management and wastewater discharge. These guidelines form the basis for both internal and external factory inspections and assessments.  
  • Product safety: The adidas 'A-01' Restricted Substances List (RSL) is recognized across our industry and was created to reduce the use of hazardous substances in the textile and apparel supply chain. In 1998, we adopted this comprehensive RSL for product materials, prohibiting the use of chemicals considered to be harmful or toxic. We continue to develop and update this policy on an ongoing basis to ensure we do not use banned or restricted chemicals in our products.  
  • Collaboration: Managing chemicals across multi-tiered supply chains is a complex endeavor that necessitates collaboration among various stakeholders for effective and sustainable solutions. At adidas, we foster strong relationships within the sustainability community and engage openly with our stakeholders. We actively collaborate with organizations such as the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) group, the Apparel & Footwear International Restricted Substances Management Working Group (AFIRM), the International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec) Business Group, Better Cotton and the Leather Working Group (LWG), recognizing the importance of collective efforts to drive responsible chemical management practices in the apparel and footwear industry.


An Integrated Management System (IMS) helps us to secure all relevant ISO management certifications across our administrative offices, distribution centers, production sites, and own retail stores. These include environmental management (ISO 14001), health and safety management (ISO 45001), energy management (ISO 50001), and – introduced in 2021 and planned to obtain for 2022 – facility management (ISO 41001). We aim to further expand these certifications to more key sites through implementation of the standards and both internal and external audits, as these support us to achieve our energy, water, waste, and health and safety targets.  

We will continue to improve the water efficiency at our highest consuming sites, aiming for a 15% reduction in water consumption per square meter for own operations by 2025, measured against 2019.

Chemicals we do not use

adidas has demonstrated its commitment to chemical management by adopting the ZDHC MRSL industry guideline in 2019, which outlines the chemicals prohibited to be used in our production. We invest significant efforts in meticulously monitoring the use of chemicals across our supply chain to control the use of restricted substances throughout our extensive supply chain. In addition, we enforce stringent measures through our adidas A-01 Restricted Substances List and conduct regular testing of product materials to ensure the absence of restricted chemical substances to protect the health and well-being of our customers and uphold our environmental stewardship.

  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and phthalates: In 2000, we were one of the first companies in the global consumer goods sector to virtually eliminate PVC from our products. Alternatives have been found and nearly all styles in our global product range are now PVC-free. However, in a few countries, alternatives are not available and we remain committed to finding solutions in the longer term. In 2003, we also eliminated the use of polyethylene chloride, since it has a similar environmental footprint as PVC. We are also encouraging a move to printing with phthalate-free inks. Some of our business units have made the changeover in their owned facilities and more and more of their suppliers are changing over, too. 
  • Perfluoroalkyl & Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS): adidas is committed to being more than 99% PFAS-free. In 2023, an industry-wide supplier informed us that paint containing PFAS was incorrectly used for individual components of zippers in our PFAS free apparel range. Upon learning this, we have taken appropriate steps to ensure that we will return to being 99% PFAS-free as of Fall/Winter 2024.
  • Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs): In 2013, in the framework of the joint roadmap for the elimination of hazardous chemicals by 2020, we committed to phasing out the use of long-chain PFCs by no later than January 1, 2015. As a further step, we committed to being 99% PFC-free by no later than December 31, 2017. By the end of 2018, we met the further target of being more than 99% free of poly- and perfluorinated substances in our products for the fall/winter 2019 season.  
  • Volatile organic compounds: The Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) typically found in solvents used in our manufacturing process can – in high concentrations – cause breathing difficulties and other health problems for production workers. Therefore, for more than a decade, we have requested that our footwear suppliers significantly reduce the use of VOCs in their manufacturing. By applying innovative and environmentally sound bonding and priming technologies while following the adidas guidelines on the use of chemicals, our athletic footwear suppliers have been able to reduce the use of VOCs significantly, for example through the use of water-based primers and reactive hot-melt adhesives. 


We are aware that textile products release microfibers during manufacturing processes and also during product use due to washing, temperature, humidity or UV exposure. These microfibers can have a negative environmental impact on soil, air and water, however, there is still little research to understand the root causes. We acknowledge that fiber fragmentation is a complex challenge for our industry, but one that we are proactively addressing by working with various external research partners.

adidas is also a member of ‘The Microfibre Consortium’ (TMC), an organization that works to connect academic research and translate it into solutions for the textile industry.