You may have already noticed it on our website: our products' carbon footprint is now available on each and everyone one of them.
What does that mean? What and for who is it of use? How do we go about it?Don't move, and we'll explain everything on this page! It's because, at DECATHLON, we design our products that it's possible for us to be one of the only companies to be able to share specific data about their carbon footprint.
When referring to carbon footprint, we are talking about the impact of climate change. We calculate it by measuring all greenhouse gases (nitrogen, methane, carbon dioxide …) emitted by the product throughout the stages of its life cycle.
To simplify understanding of this footprint, we convert these gases and also their impact into a Kg equivalent. That is why we refer to it in Kg CO2e, with the small “e” following the CO2 meaning “equivalent”.
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.
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.)
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.
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:
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.
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.
AND WHAT ABOUT TOMORROW?
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.