Promoting responsible consumption

How can we reconcile our business model, based on selling sports items at the lowest possible prices to ensure they are affordable for all, with the need to respond to environmental issues and fulfil our responsibilities? One of our solutions involves encouraging our users to choose eco-friendly products without making them more expensive, the idea being that in return this will influence our design and supply strategies, involving materials and manufacturing processes that have less impact on the environment.

Mobilising our teams to commit to eco-designing products is now a priority if we are to reduce our environmental impact, stimulate eco-innovation and respond to the growing expectations of our customers and users.

Responsible consumption
in 2016

A summary

• We assessed how visible our eco-labelling was, and its influence on buying behaviour.

• We audited our calculation method so that it was compatible with EU standards, and brought it into line with other industry players at both French and European level.

• We gave our teams their environmental assessment reports so that they could identify the main eco-design levers and put them into action.

• We increased the proportion of our sustainable cotton supplies and discussed this subject with our external stakeholders.

Change in the number of products available with eco-labelling
Spring / Summer season

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Autumn / Winter season

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« External testing of our calculation method »

Decathlon has been part of the “Product Environmental FootPrint” trial, coordinated by the European Commission, since 2013. In 2016, with this working group, we assessed how robust our calculation method was through an audit conducted by Ernst & Young. Drawing on their conclusions, and as part of our ongoing work, we’re focusing on the quality and comprehensiveness of the data in our calculation systems, so we can comply with European Union standards. At the same time, Decathlon is one of the key players predeploying the eco-labelling scheme as instructed by the French ministry for the environment, which is scheduled for 2017.

“There are three main reasons behind our decision to develop eco-labelling. Firstly, we want to encourage our teams to minimise the environmental impact of their products, by making eco-design an integral part of all their projects.

We then want to pass on information to help users become aware of environmental ratings when they shop, both in stores and online.

Our basic objective is to promote this type of labelling by sharing our methods with others operating in the same market and with the relevant government authorities, to hammer home the message of responsible consumption.

In 2016, 8% of Decathlon brand products were assessed using this system. Our aim is assess 100% of our textile, footwear and heavy stitching ranges in this way by 2019.”

Eco-design and Eco-labelling project manager

Assessing how effective our labelling is among our users

In 2016, we measured how visible our eco-labelling was, how well it was understood and its impact on product buying and on Decathlon’s image. The results were promising :

• 20% of buyers saw the information;

• 25% of them said that they ended up buying a product with a higher rating. The others did not take the rating into account, because there was no equivalent product available;

• 85% of buyers said that the transparency of this information improved the image they had of Decathlon.

The protocol consists of an A/B test on 650 product information sheets on the online store site, followed by an aftersale questionnaire sent to buyers of products with visible eco-labelling. Survey carried out from April to July 2016.

Environmental assessments guide our design teams
Environment leader for water sports

In 2016, we modelled our products’ environmental impacts and communicated them to each environment leader. Design teams can use this information to identify their priorities and work on eco-designs for product families with the greatest impact.

Explanations on the ground with Audrey Goulard, environment leader for water sports.

Why do you think it’s important to understand the environmental assessment of your
Passion brand ?
This helps us to pinpoint - in a highly visual manner - product families with the greatest
impact. The label is clear and easy to communicate and understand. Our first task was to
explain it properly to all teams, before organising workshops to identify eco-design areas
relevant to the impacts being generated.
Can you tell us a bit more about these workshops? What are the concrete projects to have
come out of them ?
For example, swimming costumes account for 25% of Olaian’s global impact [Decathlon
board sports brand – Ed.]. By the end of the workshop, two main focus areas had been
identified: a circular economy project and another project to ban the sale of any products
scoring a D. We have now moved on to writing our action plans

Our teams in action

Projects are underway in our company in a bid to transform our product range and make it more responsible. As well as our efforts to make our products more visible, below are some examples of the work done by our teams.

Using sustainably produced cotton

In 2015, Decathlon and its teams committed to using only sustainably produced cotton by 2020. This includes organically farmed cotton, cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative and cotton fibres from recycled waste (pre and post consumption). Teams are reviewing their supply chains in order to achieve this target and our R&D department has worked hard on the issue of recycling end-of-life textiles. We are also trialling a number of textile collection schemes.

Decathlon strikes up a transparent dialogue with the WWF
Meeting with THÉO CIZERON
Responsible for relations with the WWF economic world

In 2016, WWF France challenged Decathlon about its use of certain raw materials to make its products.

We get the low-down from Théo Cizeron, responsible for relations with the WWF economic world.

What were your reasons for challenging Decathlon in your April 2016 edition, Les
25 entreprises françaises qui impactent le plus les écosystèmes mondiaux [the 25 French
businesses with the biggest impact on global ecosystems] ?
Given the sheer volume of business inextricably linked to purchasing, sales and the
transformation of raw materials like cotton and cardboard, the WWF felt that Decathlon had
a major role to play in revolutionising these raw materials markets, whose production
methods impact ecosystems that are particularly vital for the balance of our planet.
Was Decathlon’s response to your publication satisfactory ?
After publishing the list of France's 25 most environmentally damaging businesses in April
2016, Decathlon was quick to open up lines of communication, presenting us with, for
example, its environmental policy and its commitments regarding the cotton industry. We
commend this approach and have encouraged Decathlon to pursue its drive for
transparency, and to go even further to increase accountability of its supplies.
What are you expecting from Decathlon in the future in this area ?
The WWF is currently conducting a study on the progress being made by the 25 businesses
listed last year. As Decathlon is one of these, we are expecting that its policy of openness
and desire to progress will translate into action, so that it becomes a benchmark in terms of
inspiring industries to adopt responsible practices.

Using recycled polyester

To move away from its dependence on fossil fuels and to reduce waste, teams have embraced recycled polyester, make from plastic bottles. Traditionally, it’s been the Forclaz 50 fleece that spearheaded the use of recycled polyester. Teams are organised so as to be able to bulk buy recycled polyester in order to reduce the cost. At the same time, a new project is underway to reutilise our production waste.

Dyeing polyester using processes with minimal impact

Dope-dyeing polyester, more complex than standard dyeing techniques, responds to the challenge of reducing water consumption and minimising pollution caused by dye wastewaters. Components dyed in this way have been used in our products since 2012. Teams plan to continue bulk buying this yarn, which can be used for several purposes, depending on whether it’s woven or knitted. Lastly, the “supercritical CO2” dyeing procedure, which has the advantage of using a totally neutral “green solvent”, can be conducted within a closed loop system that obviates the need for water. This recent technique is still on the fringes, and was used on just some product ranges.

Using air pillow packaging so that shoes retain their shape

Out of around 70 million shoes sold by Decathlon, 50 million require support packaging in order to retain their shape during transit. Packaging teams had the idea of replacing the cardboard wedge with a polyethylene air pillow. This system has a smaller environmental impact and is twice as cheap for the business. It is extended to include a further 8 million products (such as fins and other footwear) in 2017.