For years, adidas has been running leadership programmes that address this topic within its area of direct influence. Our chemical management programme comprises a comprehensive system based on a series of programmes and tools which are regularly updated in a spirit of continuous improvement of our chemical footprint.
The key elements of our chemical management programme are as follows:
In our sector, the acronym “RSL” stands for Restricted Substances List, the purpose of which is to reduce the use of hazardous substances in the textile and apparel supply chain. In 1998, we adopted a comprehensive and detailed Restricted Substances Policy for product materials, prohibiting the use of chemicals considered as harmful or toxic. From that moment on, we have continued to develop and update our mature policies which ban or restrict chemicals in our products.
Over the years, we have developed a series of guidelines for suppliers. For example, theHealth & Safety Guidelines specify chemicals that cannot be used during manufacturing because they can affect workers’ health. Comprehensive and detailed standards for suppliers on handling, storage and disposal of chemicals are instead part of adidas' Environmental Guidelines, which also specify standards for waste water treatment and effluents. They are the basis for factory inspections and assessments conducted by our Social & Environmental Affairs team and external auditors.
In order to further guide our suppliers with input chemical chemistry selection, we are partnering up with bluesign® and we are going to implement their chemical data management system, the bluefinder. With this, our suppliers select best-in-class chemicals through bluesign® bluefinder, so that they can produce materials using chemicals that are included in the database.
In recent years, adidas has been increasingly focused on promoting public reporting and transparency within the supply chain. To ensure more transparency and disclosure about the environmental impacts caused by industry operations, adidas has developed guidance material for its suppliers covering the issue of Information Disclosure, with particular focus on pollutant release.
We are not in this alone though. The management of chemicals in multi-tiered supply chains is a complex challenge, requiring many actors to play a role in achieving effective and sustainable solutions. This is why we collaborate with peers to improve our industry. For example, 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. Read more about our engagement within the AFIRM group here. Or, 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.