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The environmental assessment of our products

What is an environmental assessment?

The idea is to be able to understand / make people understand the environmental implications of producing, buying, using a product or service.

The environmental assessment takes a number of factors into account:
- the extraction of raw materials,
- the materials and processes used in production,
- the packaging, - the distribution of the product, including transport,
- the use of your product (washing your sports shirt between two sessions, for example, or every time you recharge the battery on your electric bike),
- the fate of your product when it has reached the end of its useful life.

Environmental labelling is a way of indicating all or part of the assessment of a product or service (yes, so far, it seems quite logical).

How are environmental impacts estimated?

To assess its products, DECATHLON relies on a life cycle analysis, i.e. an assessment of all the stages in the life cycle, from the extraction of the raw materials that make up the product to the end of the product's life.

Life cycle assessment is a relatively recent subject, having emerged in the 1990s. The scientific methodologies and tools used to assess the impact of products are constantly evolving. DECATHLON has been actively contributing to the development of these methodologies since 2007, in particular through its participation in French working groups with ADEME and European working groups (PEF), aimed at specifying both the calculation methods and the databases required to calculate a product's impact.

The life cycle analysis of DECATHLON products is based on the recommendations of the Product Environmental Footprint method, supported by the European Commission.

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Why ”kg co2e”? 

It is a unit created by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) to compare, on the same scale, different greenhouse gases and provide a clear idea of a product or service's impact.

For example, the IPCC estimates that 1 ton of methane (which is a greenhouse gas) is on average 28 times greater in terms of pollution and global warming than 1 ton of CO2.

If we summarise: 1 ton of methane is, therefore, counted as the equivalent of 28 tons of CO2 in a environmental impact calculation.
It, therefore, means that 1 ton of methane = 28 tons of CO2e.

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How do you make sense of this?

Now that we know what we are talking about, it's important to help you understand the different scales. Just giving you a number is not enough. You have to be able to compare it to others to understand it.

To give you an idea, here are a few examples of comparisons with a car journey according to the ADEME's (French government's Ecological Transition Agency) Carbon© database:
• 1 Kg CO2e = 5 km in petrol-driven car
• 10 Kg CO2e = 50 km in petrol-driven car
• 50 Kg CO2e = 250 km in petrol-driven car
• 100 Kg CO2e = 500 km in petrol-driven car
• 500 Kg CO2e = 2500 km in petrol-driven car
• 1000 Kg CO2e = 5000 km in petrol-driven car

(You have to divide the number Kg CO2e by 0.2 to get the number of kilometres.)

But 1,000 km in a petrol-driven car is enormous right?

You'll see that in our product files, the amount of kg CO2e can sometimes seem quite substantial. That is why it is necessary to put it into perspective. You can well imagine that manufacturing a bike is a lot more impactful than a t-shirt. It can be explained by the materials used in the design of a product (and, in particular, the quantity, and therefore its overall weight), its manufacturing process, or product care steps.
On average, the impact of a “basic” t-shirt (in other words, without too many technical specifications) is around 8.79 kg CO2e. On average a bike is more likely to be approximately 96 kg CO2e (it all depends, of course, on the bike model). As you can see, the footprint is considerably different.

To get a clearer idea, here are a few averages of the impact per product:
• Plastic water bottle: 1.13  Kg CO2e
• Helmet: 3.77  Kg CO2e
• T-shirt: 8.79  Kg CO2e
• Shoes: 12.28  Kg CO2e
• Backpack 19.38  Kg CO2e
• Trousers: 20.29  Kg CO2e
• Jacket: 30.70  Kg CO2e
• Bike: 96  Kg CO2e

It is also important to take into consideration other factors. A bike's lifespan is, for example, a lot longer than that of a t-shirt. (proof of which is provided by the fun we still have refurbishing our grandparents' bikes!). On top of being repaired hundred's of times, it can also become your equipment for getting around every day, helping you to reduce your own carbon footprint.

What is the link between assessment, eco-design and environmental labelling?

You will have understood that assessing our products is a way to be as transparent as possible and lets you make an informed choice when making buying. And this involves eco-design and the environmental label:

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Eco-design As we explained above, this assessment also allows us to make design choices and act accordingly to reduce a product's environmental impact as much as possible. When there is a significant reduction and it matches our eco-design criteria, the product is then given an “eco-design” label.
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The environmental label The environmental label is the small letter that you see on our product files. It ranges from A to D, allowing us to compare products in the same category on the same scale.For example, a t-shirt will be rated A in comparison with other t-shirts. It will not be compared with a backpack. This label provides an interpretation of the environmental impact by taking the carbon footprint as well as air and water pollution into account.

DECATHLON had in mind to provide customers with a responsible choice when setting up a labelling system in partnership with the French state, aiming to roll it out to other major players in retail distribution.
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How and why do we evaluate our products?

The environmental assessment is an approach that consists of precisely measuring what will be the impact on the environment throughout all the stages of its life cycle (climate change, depletion of fossil fuels, water pollution, etc.). When assessing a product, we subsequently take into consideration the extraction of raw materials, its transport to the factory that transforms it, the transformation itself, the manufacturing, the transport of the end product, and its use until the end of its life cycle.

To assess a product, we rely on existing data from the ADEME, an independent agency funded by the French State. It guarantees the impartiality and accuracy of the data supplied. These data allow us to say which component, material or manufacturing process emits this amount of CO2. To keep things simple: we start off with a product, which we know all the stages of the life cycle because we designed it. We then put it up for comparison with the data supplied by the ADEME. And this is how we work out the product's impact.

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Having this overall picture of the impact is useful for us for two reasons:
#1 : for us, it lets us make the right strategic decisions to reduce the impact. We assess eco-design by providing design teams with the right data to choose the least impactful materials or manufacturing processes. Thanks to these data, we can forecast the CO2 trajectory over the long term and make DECATHLON's future activity compatible with the planet's limits.
#2 : and for you! This information lets you take a criterion into account that is playing an increasingly decisive role in making a purchase.


On top of the impact on climate change, our teams are measuring other impacts linked to our products' entire life cycle. We will, in due course, be able to communicate the impact of our products on the pollution of fresh water and marine habitats (called "eutrophication"). As well as their impact on human health through air pollution.