Eco-designing our products
Decathlon’s environmental mission is to stabilize its CO2 emissions by 2019. If we take our growth forecasts into consideration, this means fixing a target of an annual 20% reduction of the product-related impact, through to 2019. Our design teams have taken up the challenge and are progressively integrating environmental criteria into the quality-price combination for all our products.
Two initiatives have been deployed to attain this goal:
- Eco-design, to reduce the impact of products during the design stage.
- Environmental labelling, to guide customers towards a more sustainable form of consumption.
In 2015, product-related GHG emissions represented 74% of Decathlon’s total emissions.
of our GHG emissions are related to products in 2015
Our priority is to encourage our teams to focus on the eco-design of our products in order to reduce Decathlon’s environmental impact and meet customer & user expectations.
Strategies for eco-design
Four major strategies deployed by our teams:
- The development of recycled materials: plastics, cardboard, cotton, polyester, etc.
- The listing of renewable materials.
- The choice of innovative processes to reduce water consumption or water pollution during the manufacturing of our products.
- The replacement of PVC in our products.
Eco-design means the design or redesign of a product (or service) by reducing its environmental impacts, during one or more stages of its life cycle while maintaining (or even improving) its qualities and level of performance in line with usage.
A multi-criteria assessment of the impacts is performed at each stage of the lifecycle.
Decathlon is relying on this strategy to create new means and solutions in order to reduce its environmental footprint.
Recycled and recyclable materials
Recycled materials have less environmental impact than traditional materials since the first stage of the lifecycle, the extraction of the raw materials, is not included in the calculation. At the other end of the lifecycle, enhancing the recyclability of the components represents a means to reduce the environmental impacts of a product at the end of its life.
Packaging: minimalist and qualitative!
Our teams are moving towards single-material packaging solutions, with a focus on fibre materials (recyclable cardboard or paper). This choice offers greater recycling potential of packaging in countries equipped with the infrastructure.
If packaging exists, it is because it is necessary, in which case our teams do everything to optimise it.
Another best practice consists in limiting the size of the instructions for use of a product, by focusing more on easy to understand concise visuals (pictograms for example). Less text to translate into various different languages means less paper printed out!
Concerning recycling, a pilot project was launched in 2015 in 8 stores in France. In collaboration with I:CO, an external partner that helps give a second life to used products, we collected 51 tons of used textiles and shoes in 2015 which represents an average of 1.7 tonnes per collection point.
The idea is to spread the collection solution throughout France and ideally everywhere there is a Decathlon store. If the initiative were reproduced worldwide, we believe we could collect up to 50,000 tonnes as of 2020.
French stores interested in having the collection boxes (estimated total collection: 452 tonnes).
Materials and components from sustainably managed resources are a good way to reduce the footprint of our products.
Our teams have been researching for a number of years already for ways to replace conventional cotton with a cotton that is produced while respecting both the people who produce it and the environment in which it is farmed.
In 2015, Decathlon committed itself to using only sustainably sourced cotton in the production of its products by 2020. This means that all the cotton fibres used in the production of our Passion brand products will be from sustainable origins, which could be from organic farming, recycling or the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).
The effects of this recent commitment are not yet visible. The use of sustainably produced cotton recorded a drop in volume, from 18.2% in 2014 to 10.6% in 2015. Of the 111,922,646 articles made of cotton in 2015, 11,830,000 were made from organic cotton.
This trend can be explained notably by Domyos’ decision to use less organic cotton in favour of a more technical cotton that requires less drying time. In 2015, the firm recorded a strong increase in sales for articles produced using conventional cotton.
An upturn in volume is forecast for 2016.
Supercritical CO2 dyeing
Good water management is vital for the future of the planet. This is why our production teams are working with our subcontractors to find innovative ways to limit the use and or pollution of water during manufacturing processes.
This led to the launch in 2014 of a first project “Dope Dyed” and in 2015 of “Supercritical CO2” (or Process “Dry Dyed©”). This closed-loop process makes it possible to dye an article of clothing without using any water!
The Supercritical CO2 process offers numerous benefits for the environment:
- Energy consumption down by 40%
- Less use of chemical products
- No water required for the dyeing process
Even if the deployment of this process requires investing in a machine, once this investment has been amortized, it becomes extremely attractive and innovative. It represents a huge market opportunity to counter the problem of the scarcity of water resources.
This project was made possible thanks to great team efforts, from our French textile teams and those in charge of production in Thailand who worked with our subcontractor to develop a new line of components.
10,000 Kalenji junior T-shirts produced using this process will be on sale in all Decathlon stores for the 2016 Spring-Summer season.
Replacing PVC in our products
Any product containing PVC (polyvinyl chloride) requires a specific treatment to recover or recycle the PVC without any risk to the environment. This means specific equipment is required such as protection filters and suction lines to prevent all toxic emissions, air pollution and acid rain during the burning of the PVC.
Decathlon is committed to replacing the PVC in its products and our teams are working on the development of innovative solutions such as the Tribord surf boots made from recycled oyster shells.
The Tribord surf boots were redesigned to replace the PVC with elastomer and 15% recycled oyster shells from Brittany, France. They are produced in the north of France and received quite a bit of media coverage!
To be in line with fishermen’s expectations, Caperlan came up with the easily adjustable EVO Sinker for all fishing conditions. Thanks to a smart and user-friendly system, the revolutionary EVO Ballest offers 4 different weights and 4 different functions in one.
Not only is the product ingenious, it is also environmentally-friendly as all the lead has been replaced by a 100% lead-free Zarmac alloy.
An innovative and motivated network!
Many of our collaborators are interested in working on eco-design. Some thirty or so environmental leaders from our Passion brand teams call upon their innovative and creative minds and technical expertise to look for and reference new materials, processes and concepts.
Role of an environmental leader
The role of an environmental leader is to draw up an environmental policy for his or her perimeter, to learn and to train others, to assess the environmental impact of products or components used, and to develop eco-design solutions.
One of the priorities for our leaders is to integrate eco-design into the specifications of all new or updated product developments, to take eco-design from just a good idea you have before embarking on the design process to an integral part of the product development process.
Since 2015, a community has been set on Decathlon’s internal social network to promote eco-design and environmental labelling. All Decathlon collaborators can learn, share and exchange on good ideas and innovative solutions.
By understanding the various dimensions an environmental issue may represent, the teams integrate solutions from the very outset that reduce the environmental impact of our components.
What is your role as environmental leader?
Over and above talking about the firm’s strategic environmental projects, the role of an environmental leader mostly involves getting the teams commited, making it all make sense and ensuring they have an environment-focused outlook. The teams thereby understand the impacts of their decisions on the environment and can intervene in the field. Thanks to Decathlon’s Vision 2026, the environmental leaders co-wrote a collective project then a local project to define the action levers to reduce our carbon footprint.
How do you integrate the environment into your work and your team?
Having the dual role of environmental leader and component innovation leader, I define the team’s component strategy by presenting the technological axis as an essential part of creating innovative solutions in favour of the environment. By understanding the various dimensions an environmental issue may represent, the teams integrate solutions from the very outset that allow to reduce the environmental impact of our components.
Do you have an example of a project that integrates the environmental criterion?
In 2015, Michel Christ, Methods Engineer and Jean-Laurent Dhaeyer, Components and Technologies Engineer developed a textile component made of a dyed yarn and a virgin yarn. This reduced water consumption by 75% per m2 of fabric and the cost was good too. This represents a saving of 95 million tons of water in just one year, or the equivalent of 32 Olympic pools! That’s a lot of water that’s not going to be polluted and require treating. These components are used in our Quechua tents and will be in stores for the 2016 Spring-Summer season.
How do you interact with the brands and other industrial processes?
Thanks to the network of environmental leaders, we share our best practices so they can be deployed in other sectors. One concrete example would be the setting up of an environmental appreciation system for our components. This information helps integrate the criterion during the early design decision-making process.
Extending product lifespan
We test the resistance of our footwear products and material in a laboratory. We also conduct 'long term' trials during which users try out the products in the field.
In light of the scarcity of the planet’s resources, Decathlon is working on the sustainability of its products and accompanies and guides its customers in their maintenance and repair.
Two solutions have been deployed by our teams to extend the lifespan of a product:
- make it more resistant,
- repair it or have it repaired.
Concerning the repair work, there are two options:
- Enable users to do the repairs themselves
- Propose a repair solution in the Decathlon workshop. This implies upstream organisation to ensure the components are available, the workshops have the required machines and tools, and the staff are correctly trained.
Some brands have strengthened their after-sales services to delay the in-store repair stage until as late as possible with the creation of tutorials to explain how to use and maintain their products while at the same time enabling users to get more out of their product for a longer time.