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Adidas: Striding Towards Sustainability

Adidas, the global sports and lifestyle icon, is setting its sights on a more sustainable future. This renowned brand is determined to enhance its environmental and labor practices as part of the Adidas Group. In exploring Adidas’s sustainability journey, we’ll delve into their efforts to adopt eco-friendly materials, reduce their carbon footprint, and more.

women wearing adidas t shirt and posing for photo

From Laundry Room Beginnings to Global Icon: Adidas’ Journey

Adidas, the sports and lifestyle giant we know today, has quite the story to tell. It all started back in the small town of Herzogenaurach, Germany, in 1949 when Adi Dassler decided to put his passion for sports and shoe-making to good use. 

He started making sneakers in his mother’s laundry room, not the fanciest setup, but hey, it was a start! Adi’s commitment to helping athletes perform better was evident from the get-go. Even during the 1954 FIFA World Cup, he was handcrafting soccer cleats for the German national team, and rumor has it they played a part in their victory. That’s a cool kick-off for a global sports brand.

Fast forward a few decades, and Adidas has become a household name in sports and lifestyle. They’ve decked out legendary athletes and sponsored iconic sports events, and their iconic three-stripe logo is recognized worldwide. 

So, whether you’re lacing up for a marathon, hitting the gym, or just rocking the latest streetwear, you’re stepping into a bit of history with every pair of Adidas shoes. That’s the legacy of a brand that’s always been about helping folks be the best version of themselves, both on and off the field. 

Adidas’ Global Recognition for Sustainability Initiatives in 2022

  • Adidas receives consistent recognition from global institutions, rating agencies, NGOs, and socially responsible investment analysts for its holistic sustainability efforts.
  • In 2022, Adidas underwent thorough corporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) assessments and participated in specialized environmental and social performance benchmarks.
  • These initiatives led to Adidas being featured in various renowned sustainability indices, ratings, and disclosure benchmark evaluations.
  • In the 2022 S&P ESG evaluation, Adidas maintained a strong ESG Evaluation Score of 85, securing a place in the top ten within the S&P Global Rating Universe.
  • S&P highlighted Adidas’s industry-leading innovation, supply chain management, and commitment to robust corporate governance.
  • In 2022, Adidas also responded to the CDP Forest assessment, achieving a score on par with the industry and European averages, showcasing ongoing efforts to combat deforestation and protect biodiversity.

Eco-Friendly Materials: A Step in the Green Direction

Adidas wholeheartedly embraces eco-friendly materials. They have integrated a substantial proportion of recycled materials into their products, contributing to resource conservation and waste reduction. This choice underscores their dedication to environmental preservation.

The company’s “Own the Game” strategy is about expanding its sustainable product range. By 2025, their target is to have 90% of their products meet sustainability criteria. They achieve sustainability by using eco-friendly materials like recycled and sustainable cotton and innovative options such as biobased synthetics. 

To qualify as sustainable, these materials must make up a significant percentage of the product’s weight, with specific requirements for each product category: 70% for apparel, 50% for accessories and gear, and 20% for footwear. As of 2022, they’ve made seven out of ten products sustainable, showing good progress toward their sustainability goals. 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions: A Target to Achieve

Adidas has established science-based targets to diminish greenhouse gas emissions throughout its operations and supply chain. While this is a promising commitment, whether they are on track to achieve these goals remains uncertain. Regular monitoring and transparent reporting will be pivotal to evaluating their success in reducing emissions.

Adidas’ Climate Commitments:

  • Achieve climate neutrality (CO2e) in its operations (Scope 1 and 2) by 2025.
  • Reduce absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% across the entire value chain (Scope 1, 2, 3) by 2030 (measured against a 2017 baseline).
  • Achieve climate neutrality (CO2e) across the entire value chain by 2050.

Their 2030 targets are approved by the ‘Science Based Targets initiative’ (SBTi). The 2025 goal includes a 90% reduction in absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions from the 2017 baseline, aligning with efforts to limit global temperature increases to 1.5°C. Their GHG reduction target for value chain emissions (Scope 3) meets SBTi’s criteria for ambitious value chain goals. 

Microplastics Research: Tackling Emerging Environmental Issues

Adidas is stepping up to deal with a big environmental issue: microplastics. They’ve joined forces with others to study how these tiny plastic bits, usually less than 5 millimeters, harm nature, water life, and even our health. Microplastics are sneaky and can be found in many things, including clothes.

By diving into this research, Adidas shows they’re serious about being kind to the environment. They’re gathering scientific facts to determine how bad the microplastic mess is in oceans, rivers, and soil. With this knowledge, they aim to develop smart ways to reduce the environmental damage from microplastics. It’s all about Adidas acting to make our world cleaner and greener. 

Conserving Biodiversity: A Missing Piece

green plant inside a adidas sneaker

Image Credit: Adidas

Adidas understands that its actions can harm the environment, affect what they use from nature, and even impact how the clothing industry works. They know that keeping nature healthy is challenging and needs everyone to work together, including their suppliers, experts, and partners. As part of the Fashion Pact, they’ve promised to make clear goals to be more eco-friendly.

Right now, they’re figuring out how to protect nature better. They started by checking how they affect nature worldwide and what they depend on from nature. In 2022, they began a plan to stop cutting down forests, which they’ll follow in the coming years.

They’re also looking at ways to bring more plants and animals to their places. At their headquarters, they’re learning about what kinds of plants and animals are there now and how they can have even more of them. So, they’re making small steps to help nature and make things better.

Adidas’ Commitment to Fair and Safe Labor Practices

Adidas takes seriously its commitment to ensuring fair and safe working conditions in its manufacturing facilities. The company adheres to the Adidas Workplace Standards, which serve as a set of guidelines for suppliers integrated into their contractual agreements. 

These standards guarantee that workers enjoy favorable conditions safe environments, and contribute to environmental sustainability. Furthermore, Adidas aligns its practices with global labor rights regulations and collaborates with organizations like the Better Buying Institute to evaluate its sourcing procedures. 

The company aims to make responsible purchasing decisions, avoiding practices that may hinder its suppliers from meeting these standards, and provides training to its employees in this regard. Continuous monitoring ensures compliance with these standards and allows for necessary improvements when required.

Transparency: An Important Disclosure

Adidas scored 51-60% in the 2021 Fashion Transparency Index, indicating its commitment to disclosing information about its policies, practices, and supply chain. Transparency is vital in holding brands accountable and driving enhancements in sustainability practices.

COVID-19 Response: Prioritizing Stakeholder Health

Adidas has taken various measures to support workers in its global supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic. They provided guidance on disease control and safety and helped key manufacturing partners secure financing to navigate the crisis. While most countries relaxed restrictions in 2022, China maintained strict COVID-19 measures, impacting some suppliers. 

Adidas ensured that workers affected by operational changes received fair pay and benefits, while closely monitoring working conditions across all manufacturing facilities. This reflects their ongoing commitment to worker welfare and safety during the pandemic

Animal Welfare: Room for Enhancement

Adidas’s animal welfare rating falls short of ‘not good enough.’ Although they have a formal animal welfare policy aligned with the Five Freedoms, there is a lack of clarity regarding the mechanisms for implementing and enforcing this policy.

Adidas continues to use animal products like leather, down, and exotic animal skins. Further evidence is needed to substantiate their claim of sourcing wool from non-mulesed sheep.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Adidas sustainable? 

Yes, Adidas has been actively working towards sustainability. They aim to make 90% of their products sustainable by 2025, focusing on eco-friendly materials and responsible sourcing. This commitment is aligned with their “Own the Game” strategy, which promotes a more sustainable approach to their offerings.

What is the history of Adidas? 

Adidas has a rich history dating back to 1949 when Adi Dassler, known as the founder, started making sneakers in Germany. Over the years, it has evolved into a global sports and lifestyle brand, known for its iconic three stripes and commitment to performance and style.

What does Adidas specialize in, and what products do they offer? 

Adidas specializes in athletic footwear, apparel, and accessories. They offer a wide range of products, including running shoes, sports jerseys, fitness gear, and casual wear for men, women, and children. Their products cater to various sports and lifestyle needs.

How does Adidas contribute to sustainability and environmental initiatives? 

Adidas actively integrates sustainability into its business. They use eco-friendly materials, such as recycled products and more sustainable cotton. They also have science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across their operations and supply chain. Additionally, Adidas is involved in microplastics research and collaborates with industry organizations to tackle emerging environmental issues.

Does Adidas have a code of conduct for its supply chain and labor practices? 

Yes, Adidas has established the “Adidas Workplace Standards,” a supply chain code of conduct. It aligns with the Fair Labor Association’s Workplace Code of Conduct and Principles of Fair Labor and Responsible Sourcing. These standards are embedded in manufacturing agreements, ensuring fair and safe working conditions for workers.

What steps has Adidas taken to address human rights issues in its global supply chain?

Adidas extends its responsibilities to contractual partners, addressing potential labor rights violations up and down its supply chain. They have specific guidelines on employment standards aligned with the International Labor Organization’s core conventions. Their Social and Environmental Affairs team reviews policies to ensure compliance.

How does Adidas support local communities and promote diversity and inclusion? 

Adidas contributes positively to society through its economic activities. They understand their social impact on communities and respect human rights. They are signatories of the Fashion Pact, setting targets and action plans to reduce their impact on biodiversity. They also consider their responsibility regarding taxes, which support governments’ objectives and the development of their countries.

Conclusion: It’s a Start, but There’s More to Do

Adidas is making strides in its sustainability journey, with several positive steps taken, but there remains significant room for improvement. To pave the way toward a greener and more ethical future for the fashion industry, Adidas must bolster transparency, ensure living wages, refine animal welfare practices, and embrace eco-friendly materials. 

As they continue this journey, Adidas holds the potential to set an example for others and contribute to a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry. Together, let’s keep walking the path of sustainability. 

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