To further strengthen our own programmes on controlling and monitoring restricted substances, adidas is an active member in the Apparel & Footwear International Restricted Substances (RS) Management Working Group (AFIRM), which we co-founded in 2004, together with six other international brands. The multi-company working group provides a forum to exchange ideas and advance the global management of restricted substances in the apparel and footwear industry.
The AFIRM Working Group brings together product chemistry, safety, regulatory and other experts within the apparel and footwear industry. In 2011, the AFIRM Working Group launched its updated Supplier Tool Kit, a free-to-download and state-of-the-art guideline for the handling of critical chemicals along the supply chain. Created in intensive co-operation with textile and material scientists, it gives guidance on best practise, and includes substantial technical know-how, failure preventions and Q&A sections.
In 2012, AFIRM finalised a harmonised AFIRM RSL Guidance list, which consolidates the strictest requirements and their corresponding test methods from all AFIRM members. This, as a major step forward, will endorse the adidas Group and other AFIRM member brands in their outreach for implementation of international RSL programmes much deeper down the supply chain.
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) aims to make global cotton production sustainable. The adidas Group is a founding member of the BCI, which works with organisations from across the cotton supply chain and interested stakeholders to address the negative social and environmental impacts of mainstream cotton farming, such as excessive pesticide and water use. BCI’s philosophy is to develop a market for a new mainstream commodity – Better Cotton – and thereby transform the cotton sector to bring long-term benefits for the environment, farmers and other people dependent on cotton for their livelihood.
adidas has committed to source 100% of cotton in its products as sustainable cotton by 2018. "Sustainable cotton" in this sense means Better Cotton, certified organic cotton or any other form of sustainably produced cotton that is currently available or might be available in future. It is an ambitious and challenging target as the first-ever harvest of Better Cotton was only in October 2010. To ensure we can meet our target for 2018, we are going beyond engaging with our material suppliers and are dealing with cotton ginners directly. This level of engagement helps us understand the challenges and opportunities at each stage of the supply chain.
Other leading brands in the BCI such as IKEA, H&M, Marks and Spencer and Levi’s have made similar commitments. Together, we have become part of the Better Cotton Fast Track Programme (BCFT). Our commitment and support can help create the market for this new sustainable cotton.
As members of the BCFT, we are financially supporting farmer education, which is what is needed to increase the supply of Better Cotton in the future. The funds pledged by the private partners of the BCFT are matched by the Dutch Sustainable Initiative (IDH), Rabobank Foundation and ICCO, an inter-church organisation for development cooperation.
We use the Fair Factories Clearinghouse (FCC) as our compliance database, storing our suppliers’ compliance performance information. The FFC is an external, non-profit programme which uses technology to share information between members. Since 2008, we have shared factory audit reports, corrective action plans and other related documents with other FFC member companies.
Through the FFC, we can work with the factories and other brands to create a harmonised or common corrective action plan. This allows a factory to singularly fulfil all its customers’ requirements so it is more efficient, both for the supplier and the customers.
For example, in the non-athletic and business shoe category, we are part of the Brown Shoe Industry Collaboration, an initiative which brings together buyers from one of the world’s largest brown shoe manufacturers. The initiative focuses on developing common action plans and shared remediation, and has extended beyond labour and health and safety to consider the suppliers’ environmental performance.
The Fair Labor Organisation (FLA) is a non-profit organisation made up of private corporations, non-governmental organisations and universities. It sets workplace standards and appoints accredited inspectors to monitor how well affiliated companies meet these standards. The FLA publishes an annual report with each company’s results. The FLA accredited the Reebok and adidas compliance programmes in 2004 and 2005.
As a member of the FLA, adidas is subject to external assessment by independent monitors, participation in the FLA third-party complaint system and public reporting. In 2005, the monitoring programme of addas was accredited by the FLA for the first time; re-accreditation took place in 2008. This decision was based on independent factory monitoring and verification reports of supplier facilities and a thorough audit of monitoring protocols, training programmes and auditing systems. Since joining the FLA, more than 300 independent assessments have been conducted at adidas suppliers.
The Leather Working Group (LWG) is a group of brands, retailers, product manufacturers, leather manufacturers, chemical suppliers and technical experts that was created in 2005 to develop an environmental stewardship protocol specifically for the leather manufacturing industry. The environmental protocol that was developed is updated regularly.
Tanning is a key process of making leather from the skins of animals, the hides. The tanning process uses chemicals and considerable amounts of water. The Leather Working Group has developed guidelines for how our leather suppliers should measure the environmental performance of their tanneries.
We require all our leather suppliers to use these guidelines, known as the 'audit protocol', and we also stipulate that audits are carried out at all tanneries that supply leather to us. Based on the outcome of this evaluation, they are rated as Gold, Silver or Bronze. We have made a commitment not to source from tanneries unless they have reached at least a Bronze level. In general, we continue sourcing leather from suppliers holding a certification, and discontinue sourcing from suppliers that are not certified.
Already by the end of 2014 we have achieved our 2015 target to source 99% of non-European leather volume from tanneries that achieve Leather Working Group (LWG) Silver or above rating (based on the LWG audit protocol), while 87% of non-European leather sourcing volume was certified at Gold level by the end of 2013.
We say no to deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest
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. Since then, we have engaged with Greenpeace and our leather suppliers and have discussed the report findings.
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.
Following the introduction of hide traceability into the LWG audit protocol, the audit results show that traceability of hides for leather manufacturers from the slaughterhouse to the finish categories is achievable, but for other categories (especially for splits) this is proving to be much more difficult.
Close to 100% of the leather we consume comes from LWG-rated tanneries. Also, all our main grain leather suppliers have implemented some degree of traceability system, either on paper or physically marked.
The LWG has maintained a close working relationship with Greenpeace and other NGOs in support of their campaign to eliminate deforestation in Brazil caused by cattle ranching. With regard to proposed changes to the Forest Code, which may encourage further deforestation in Brazil, an LWG statement was issued on behalf of the members, expressing concerns about any negative impact that may be caused by changes in the law.
Read the official statement of the Leather Working Group on hide traceability systems in Brazil.
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is an industry-wide group of 80+ leading apparel and footwear brands, retailers, manufacturers, non-governmental organisations, academic experts and the US Environmental Protection Agency working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products within the industry. Incorporated as a stand-alone non-profit organisation, the SAC is leading the development of the HIGG Index – a suite of sustainability assessment tools to help organisations standardise how they measure and evaluate environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products across the supply chain at brand, product, and facility levels.
adidas has been an SAC member since October 2010 and is involved in developing the HIGG Index as well as being active in several of the working groups. The indexing development within SAC is a complex, challenging and rewarding activity for all engaged members and requires the utmost collaboration and alignment.
The WFSGI is an independent association formed by the industry suppliers, national organisations and sporting goods industry related businesses. It enables the sports industry (including manufacturers from developing countries as well as brands based in the richer market countries) to work together on a range of trade, legal and other issues, including CSR.
One of WFSGI’s earliest project initiatives was to phase out under-age workers from football stitching. The project, which began in 1997, worked through the support of a number of different organisations, including adidas, local NGOs, the International Labour Organization, Save the Children, FIFA and UNICEF. adidas is an active member of the WFSGI’s CSR Committee.
In 2011, adidas joined a group of brands that developed a joint roadmap towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals (ZDHC) in the supply chain by 2020.
It is an ambitious plan, one that sets new standards of environmental performance for the global apparel and footwear industry. It includes specific commitments and timelines to realise this shared goal.
All information regarding this industry alliance can be found at http://www.roadmaptozero.com/.