Chemical risk management

Since 1998, Decathlon carefully monitors the composition of its products from design through to our after-sales service. And Decathlon implements solutions to manage the choice of the right product components for both our customers and those who manufacture them.

Besides the regulations, our teams provide continuous monitoring and can decide to no longer use or even prohibit the use of a substance they consider to be hazardous.

Key figures
in 2016

All our suppliers are concerned by this initiative and agree not to use any of the listed substances.

They are monitored every 3, 6 or 12 months, depending on the type of product they manufacture.

In the event of a confirmed risk for the customer, production is stopped and the products destroyed.

« Hazardous substance »

A substance is considered ‘hazardous’ if it presents an established or suspected danger to the health and safety of people and the environment. Countries forbid or restrict the use of some of these substances via their regulations (REACH in Europe, CPSIA in the USA…). The substances in question must be absent or in quantities that fall within the required tolerance levels.

Central teams working flat out both up and downstream of the process

A dedicated chemical risk management team has been focusing on the subject since 2007 and has deployed both tools and training programmes.

Three people are responsible for the global project and determine which substances are concerned, the thresholds, test methods and testing frequency while closely tracking the availability of alternative solutions to replace hazardous substances present in Decathlon products. They also provide continuous monitoring in order to identify the substances and the solutions to anticipate, reduce or repair the related risks and guarantee the quality of relations with the customers on these issues.

Customer relations at the heart of our considerations

From 2014, a new job has been created to respond effectively and quickly to customer queries about how our products are made and how they comply with the various regulations. And she also deals with any adverse skin reactions associated with product use. Customers contact Decathlon in store, via our Customer Relations Centre, by telephone, by email or by comments made online on the Decathlon website.

In 2015, we focused our efforts on the training of teams responsible for customer relations in their countries. In France, Germany, Spain, Italy and China, the representatives are autonomous and responsible for providing satisfactory responses in the event of complaints (approximately 80% of which concern adverse skin reactions), while representatives will also be appointed for Russia and India in 2016. Customer query processing time should therefore be reduced in the coming months.

Legend: photo from Decathlon’s Customer relations Centre © credits JMR.

“Working alone on such issues really isn’t viable, and we are looking to harmonise our practices with other firms in the same sector. This would make it easier to implement requirements for subcontractors.”

Frederic Felipe
Frederic Felipe
Leader of chemical substances management
Focus on
« Restricted substances lists (RSL) »

The goal of the RSL is to offer our suppliers a clearly defined list of all prohibited substances and/or the thresholds the substances we consider to be hazardous for our customers. Decathlon’s subcontractors agree to respect these thresholds and all have signed Decathlon’s Restricted Substances List (RSL).

The list is regularly updated to include:
– modifications in the regulations of the countries in which Decathlon operates.
– the regulation of new countries for Decathlon in the event it is more stringent that existing regulations. Such demanding standards are obviously a challenge for Decathlon as the company seeks to develop its activities in new countries.
– toxicological studies of non-regulated substances.
– an improved understanding of the production processes.
– the evolution of testing processes leading to lower thresholds.

A better structured network

Integrated into the brand and industrial processes teams, our quality managers set up product control plans, monitor and accompany our sub-contractors in relation to the RSL and intervene in the event of non-compliance.

On a country by country level, 10 to 20% tasked representatives belong to the production teams in order to deploy the incentive on the ground in collaboration with the subcontractors.

Focus on
« moving towards PFC free »

The water-repellency of an article refers to its capacity to repel water rather than absorb it. The article does not become soaked in water and remains lightweight, breathable and warm during the sporting activity.

Water-repellency is most often obtained using a perfluorcarbon (PFC) treatment that is applied to the outside of the article. Listed as a “substance of very high concern” by the European Chemical Agency, Decathlon is actively looking to do away with PFC by finding a new industrial process for water-repellency.

Chemical substances training

Training in toxicology is part of the design and production team training programme (product engineer, component engineer, production leader and production quality manager). 305 people received the training in 2015.

“Toxi weeks” to train country representatives.
In 2015, 2 weeks (one in Italy, the other in China) were organised with the representatives to enhance their skills and autonomy in local decision-making in the event of non-compliance within their geographical perimeter.

Our principles regarding our control tests

Decathlon is proactive and goes beyond standard regulatory requirements to guarantee customer safety. Our products are mainly controlled before shipment from the country of production (controls conducted by independent external laboratories). This makes it possible to guarantee the products delivered to our stores do not contain any non-compliant substances. Tests are also conducted once the items are on sale to ensure the final products delivered to the store present no variations from the samples submitted for tests of conformity.

To sum-up:
– Before launching the production phase, suppliers sign the RSL.
-Controls are performed during several key stages in the process. They concern all products but can also focus on the most sensitive product lines (items for babies, toys, products that come into contact with food).
-If required, customer protection actions may be deployed such as withdrawal from sale or product recall campaigns.

Focus on
« RSL evolutions »

In the past, RSL requirements only concerned the end product and its components.

In 2015 we wanted to progress in risk anticipation by organising controls for products as they arrive at our supplier sites. By limiting the presence of hazardous chemical products, this new requirement helps protect both the employees and the environment and improves the quality of the products.

This requirement allowed us to complete our RSL. A working group, whose findings are public and have become a benchmark, ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemical), published an MRSL at the end of 2014. Our teams used the findings to draw up Decathlon’s list of prohibited substances and thresholds.

Removing phthalates from our shoes

Phthalates are plasticisers, in other words molecules used in plastics to make them more flexible. For the certification of our footwear for the Turkish market, we performed a whole line of tests that identified the presence of phthalates that are prohibited by local regulation. Shoes are one of the most sensitive products in terms of phthalates because of the prolonged contact with the skin. Removing phthalates from footwear is a complex process because the production process itself is long and involves a number of stages to assemble the various components. To work on their removal, we recruited a pharmacist in 2014 whose work has proven beneficial for all the production countries. He is also a member of a standardisation committee for AFNOR concerning the production of leather products and footwear.

Focus on
« Detecting NPEOs »

NPEOs are used by a number of suppliers during the dyeing and washing stages of their textile production process.

We are closely monitoring the presence of such substances (listed as toxic for aquatic organisms and a potential endocrine disrupter for humans) in all our products that contain either fabric or leather. NPEOs have been on our list of prohibited substances since 2012.