THE LIFE OF OUR PRODUCTS
With single-use plastic accounting for 60% of marine pollution, Decathlon is committed to achieving zero single-use plastic by 2026.
According to the latest estimates published by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), between 19 and 23 million tons of plastic find their way into waterways each year, much of it ending up in the sea.According to the NGO WWF, this pollution threatens species and ecosystems, and has now officially reached all parts of the oceans.
The latter are, however, vital for human beings and are the main reservoirs of biodiversity in the world. They produce 50% of the world's oxygen and store 50 times more carbon dioxide than the world's atmosphere. While covering more than 70 % of the surface of the planet, oceans channel
the warmth from the equator all the way to the poles, subsequently, regulating the climate and the meteorological models.
The ecological risks linked to plastic pollution could therefore become very significant if measures are not taken now.
In order to collectively take action against plastic pollution, Decathlon is also a member of several multilateral organisations:
🧵the Fashion Pact, a worldwide coalition of fashion and clothing companies are committed to three key environmental objectives: stopping climate change, restoring biodiversity and protecting oceans;
🧵 the Microfibre Consortium, developing solutions for the clothing industry aimed at reducing the release of microfibres.
- Decathlon is conducting theoretical and practical studies aimed at estimating the quantities of plastics released by its products to implement targeted reduction measures.
- The company is limiting single-use plastic by progressively phasing it out from its packaging or by recycling it.
The “Plastic pollution in the oceans” project, launched in 2019, aims to ultimately reduce the potential leakage of plastic generated by Decathlon's activities. An important step was taken in 2021 with the completion of a theoretical assessment, enabling the company to have an initial estimate of the overall quantities of plastic leakage into the sea.
To carry out this study, Decathlon relied upon the innovative methodology of the “Plastic Leak Project” and its partner, Environmental Action.
Based on the data coming from all the Decathlon goods sold in 2019 and science-based modelling, the following initial estimates and conclusions could be drawn¹:
■ out of the 270,612 tons of plastics sold in 2019, 3,931 tons² could have been leaked into the oceans at different stages of the product life cycle (production, transport, use, end of life) ;
■ of these 3,931 tons, 3 907 tons could come from macroplastics (> 5 mm: packaging, plastic products, clothing), and 24 tons would stem from microplastics (between 1 μm - 5 mm: clothing, tyres);
■ the most impactful processes reflect Decathlon's sales, clothing (30 %), shoes (14 %) and plastics & components (9 %) accounting for 50 % of the potential leakage of macroplastics³;
■ the production and use of clothing (washing) are responsible for the majority of theoretical leakage of microplastic fibre fragments (22 tons vs. 2 tons from tyre abrasions).
In parallel to this initial analysis, practical studies are carried out directly in the field to develop these estimates as close as possible to Decathlon's impact. All this work, will then be used to conduct targeted actions.
¹ To carry out these initial estimates, Decathlon used assumptions and average generic values derived from cross-referencing data from several external studies.
² Excluding production losses, plastic bags, and pollution coming from bike tyre abrasion.
³ The level of macroplastics release is strongly linked to each country's waste management systems.
"By carrying out this study, we first wanted to have the state of play with a snapshot of Decathlon's potential plastic pollution impact on the oceans. Our calculations are based on the idea that each product sold in 2019 can have an impact all along its life cycle with the leakage of microplastics and/or macroplastics.
The methodology takes into account numerous criteria such as the type of polymer, the manufacturing and sales countries, or even the waste collection and processing industry's level of maturity within the territories.The goal was not to have 100 % reliable and empirically verifiable results but to actually get an initial rough estimate that will evolve thanks to our work in the field, along with elements of comparison. Beyond knowing the theoretical quantities of plastic leakage, we wanted to understand the mechanisms of this pollution and its consequences for both the ecosystem and humans, all while identifying our main impacts to prioritise our actions. This study made us even more aware of our dependence on plastic , and the need to limit leakage to a maximum while striving to eliminate it.”
To be able to compare the theoretical results obtained from the "Plastic Pollution in the Oceans" project, Decathlon also used the Microfibre Consortium methodology to calculate the amount of plastic fibre fragments leakage from fabrics, representing 30% of its annual production. .
This project's objective is to allow teams to compare different fabrics, identify the least impactful ones and subsequently encourage them to reduce plastic leakage.
43 fabrics were consequently tested in the laboratory to simulate their microplastics leakage during a household wash.By filtering the water used in this test, we could recover the plastic fibre fragments that usually arrive at the treatment plants.The analysis showed that
on average, each fabric releases 672 milligrams of microplastics per kilo of material during each wash.
It is worth noting that this data does not represent the actual reality of leakage into the oceans since the water used in this test were samples taken before the filtration and treatment stages.
Following these results, the team members of the "Textile Microplastic Leak" project are now working to define a reduction target for 2026. All the yarn's technical features (type, length, structure, etc.) will also be analysed to determine the choices that will help reduce plastic fibre fragments leakage as much as possible.