Expanding eco-design for our products

Since the Industrial Revolution, the production of consumer goods has put increasing pressure on the world’s ecosystems. Global warming, resource scarcity and water stress are some of the signs of environmental degradation.

In order to take action and find solutions, among 17 Sustainable Development Goals drafted by the United Nations is Goal 12: “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”38.

Before Decathlon can make the changes it wants to in this area, we need to raise awareness and undergo significant transformations.

In 2017, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of our Decathlon product and component eco-design initiative. This year saw even more attention focused on this issue with the implementation of Decathlon’s Vision 2026 and ownership within the company.

Thanks to our teams’ commitment, we have increased the number of projects and initiatives at every level. Following an initial learning phase, the eco-design approach has entered a phase of autonomy and widespread adoption – in particular through training our teams, creating high-performance calculation tools, and beginning to rethink how we use raw materials.

These efforts are already making a visible impact, allowing us to provide sports users who care about these issues with high-quality environmental information.

en 2017

2017 Summary

The Eco-design Team is helping Decathlon’s design teams become more self-sufficient by training teammates, improving calculation methods, and integrating environmental impact information into our design tools.

We will continue to favour an approach to reduce environmental impact, especially by using raw materials that come from more sustainable sources.

We are hosting more events that focus on environmental awareness to inspire people and encourage action at every level of the company.

Accelerating eco-design at Decathlon

Eco-design means taking environmental issues into account starting with the design phase of a product or service. The goal is to reduce the environmental impact of products throughout their life cycle using a multi-stage and multi-criteria approach.

In 2017, the Eco-design Team focused its efforts on making company product designers more self-sufficient. To this end, three major directions were established:

Integrating environmental issues into Decathlon brands’

strategies and industrial processes: Developing key

performance indicators that allow us to improve our

environmental impact in every area, creating a “Sustainable

Development collective” that brings together leaders from

Decathlon brands and industrial processes and supports their

decision-making processes.

Harmonising and reinforcing our methods by using the ADEME database for calculating product environmental impact, with two major outcomes: new data for production processess and a wider range of products.

Automating environmental impact calculations by building them into the product design tool. (This information should be used to assign an ABCDE environmental rating for the customer).

In late 2017, 59.4% of our engineers received training and are able to evaluate the environmental impact of the products they develop.

By the end of 2017, 16.5% of Decathlon brand products had their environmental label posted in the webstore. The number of products with an environmental label doubled between 2016 and 2017.

This growth was made possible by increasing employee training, adding a new database, setting up e-learning modules, and the providing guidance of Decathlon Brand Leaders.

Mobilising teams to use more sustainable materials

Decathlon’s environmental impact is tied to its various activities: design, production, transport (products and customers), distribution, and product end-of-life.

Starting with the design of its own brand products, the company can have a significant impact by favouring components with less impact on the water, soil and air and by selecting more sustainable materials. Today, our database includes almost 15,000 textile components, of which more than 8,500 have undergone an environmental impact assessment.

The most frequently-used materials in our “textile” and “heavy stitching” ranges are cotton and polyester. They account for a large part of our CO2 emissions.

Cotton: more sustainable sourcing

Our textile products use the same proportion of cotton as the market in general (about 30%). This raw material has significant environmental and social impacts, which is why we pay particular attention and have committed over the last few years to adopt a more responsible approach for the procurement of cotton.

Decathlon is continuing to use raw materials from more responsible sources to help reduce the environmental impacts of conventional cotton production and improve social conditions.

Along with our teams, in 2015 Decathlon made a commitment to use more sustainably produced cotton exclusively in its textile products by 2020. This cotton comes from three sources:

Which sources for cotton ?

Organically farmed cotton: In 2006, we began to use organically produced cotton. The market for organic cotton is very tight, accounting for only 0.4% of global production. We use it mostly in our yoga-related products: leggings, t-shirts, capri pants.

  • 1,685 tonnes used in 2017 compared with 1,013 tonnes in 2016, so that 4% of our total cotton consumption came from organic sources.

Recycled cotton: While the industry has shown interest in recycled cotton, there are still technical issues preventing the development of systems capable of recycling old clothes at the end of their life cycle. To overcome these technological barriers, Decathlon launched the REWIND project. This project, which began in 2016, is working with a consortium to create a new “recycled” textile industry in France. Several major industrial players have become involved: TDV Industries, Decathlon, the textile equipment manufacturer Laroche, and two research and innovation entities: the European Centre for Innovative Textiles (CETI) and the ICAM engineering school. This project received funding from ADEME

88 tonnes of cotton recycled in 2017 compared with 36 tonnes in 2016, representing 0.2% of our total cotton consumption.

Better Cotton Initiative: Since 2012, we have been supporting the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which issues best practices guides for reducing the environmental impacts of conventional cotton production, taking into account social factors as well. We know that the BCI’s supply system can continue to improve and we have asked the organisation to improve its system of traceability.

19,394 tonnes of BCI cotton used in 2017 compared with 4,206 tonnes in 2016, representing 51% of our total consumption.

The results from 2017 show a significant increase in the use of more sustainable cotton, which went from 14.4% of total consumption in 2016 to 55.2% in 2017. Our efforts have mostly been focused on reducing the use of conventional cotton, replacing it with BCI cotton. Throughout 2017, the Decathlon industrial process operational teams and brand teams worked hard to keep on track to meet the 2020 target.

In October 2017, for the first time, Decathlon was added to the “Sustainable Cotton Ranking 2017”, a list of cotton-consuming companies. This study, conducted by the NGOs PAN UK, Solidaridad and WWF International, ranks 75 companies based on sustainable cotton use, including organic cotton, recycled cotton, BCI cotton, “Cotton Made in Africa” label cotton, fair trade cotton, etc. Decathlon was placed in the “Starting the Journey” category.

In 2016, we also began a dialogue with the NGO WWF France that continued throughout 2017. WWF is an important stakeholder that challenges us and helps us define larger strategies for using more sustainable resources.

Our teammates are committed to reaching our goal of 100% more sustainable cotton by 2020, especially over the next two years by increasing the amount of recycled cotton that goes into our products.

Polyester: a new commitment to significantly reduce our impact

Polyester, which is derived from fossil resources, is used in several of our industrial processes, and especially in textiles and heavy stitching. This material has a significant CO2 footprint, and producing it contributes to resource exhaustion. It is important that we become less dependent on fossil resources, anticipate future regulations and respond to sports users’ environmental concerns by making innovative choices when it comes to our industrial processes, recycling and the circular economy.

That is why, in December 2017, Decathlon decided that by the end of 2021, all textile products sold in France would be made from 100% more sustainable polyester, coming from three sources:

Recycled polyester

Dope-dyed virgin polyester

Dope-dyed recycled polyester

At the end of 2017, 9.4% of our polyester supply came from more sustainable sources.

In October 2017, Decathlon was listed in the “Preferred Fiber & Material Report”44, an international ranking of companies based on their use of sustainable textile raw materials (organic cotton, recycled polyester, Lyocell, etc.) that is compiled by the NGO Textiles Exchange.

This study reports how well 95 companies performed when evaluated on their use of responsible raw materials. Decathlon came in third place among brands and distributors who used the most recycled polyester by volume (millions of tonnes) in 2016.

Packaging: applying the environmental approach at every step in the value chain

Decathlon’s Packaging Team follows the “No Pack” approach, which entails asking how necessary packaging is for each product, and if it is needed, how we can reduce it to the bare essentials.

This approach focuses on packaging volume, the source and quantity of the material used, the energy consumed to produce packaging and the impact of manufacturing on the water, soil and air as well as the impact on logistics, etc.

The following examples illustrated the approach:

Raw materials: Decathlon seeks to create a controlled and responsible supply chain, going as far upstream as the sources for the fibres used in producing the paper and cardboard for our packaging.

Design and logistics: The teams are trying to reduce the quantities of material used as much as possible. For example, the 2017 redesign of our walkie-talkies allowed us to reduce not only the product packaging but also the size of the user manual: thanks to a ground-up review of the instructions, we were able to shrink the manual from 344 pages to 8 pages while also making it easier for the consumer to understand the product. This kind of packaging optimisation also allows us to ship more products in a single unit, reducing the environmental impact of transport.

Point of sale and customer use: Our “No Pack” strategy has allowed us to create a new in-store customer experience. Sales information about Outshock protective equipment  has been integrated into the start of the design phase. Products like boxing gloves and martial arts belts are now sold with minimum packaging. The impact of greenhouse gas emissions associated with packaging for the Outshock range of accessories has been reduced by 81%. Products are now more visible and the packaging solutions are easier and more efficient for the in-store teams and for customers who want to try products out.