Environment: a global approach to subcontractor support

Since 2009, Decathlon has been helping a panel of subcontractors to minimise the pollution they generate by manufacturing our sports products. In 2015, the company expanded its scheme to involve more subcontractors. By assessing production sites using both social and environmental criteria, Decathlon teams are keen to help subcontractors improve their skills in the interests of global corporate social responsibility.

Water pollution: a key issue

Many manufacturing processes used to make our products require water, which – once used – is generally discharged into the natural environment. Water is now a precious resource that is unevenly protected throughout the world. Decathlon has been working on this priority issue since 2014, with the aim of reducing contamination risks for local residents.

Copie de pecheurs
Used for fishing, food and transport, water is the central focus of multiple issues for Bangladeshis (photo taken near the waste water treatment plant of one of our key local suppliers).

We can also observe countries’ growing awareness of the issues surrounding this resource. That’s why we’re offering to help the subcontractors concerned with a series of support solutions, designed to boost the quality and stability of our relations over time.

The water issue for our subcontractors: case study - DBL GRoup. Rajib Talukder, SD in Production manager
  • What is the problem with wastewater treatment at this production site?

    The textile dyeing process requires chemicals such as reactive dyes. At the end of the process, unless the wastewater is treated, it is discharged and poses a risk to the environment. Furthermore, this site consumes vast quantities of water.

  • How have they gone about finding a solution?

    A dedicated team manages the water treatment plant and has implemented several good practices, such as:
    - An integrated laboratory to test the water quality parameters
    - Automatic verification of various parameters (including pH and dissolved oxygen)
    - A lengthy retention period in order to treat the wastewater properly (a minimum of 64 hours)

  • What results were obtained?

    Because of these good practices and the continuous monitoring at various stages of the process, the quality of wastewater complies with the requirements stipulated by the regulations pertaining to the country and those of Decathlon. This has been the case ever since we became involved in this issue. They are keen to preserve their environment long-term and to become a leading manufacturer spearheading this field in Bangladesh.

Data sheet:

Supplier concerned: DBL Group
Activity: textile dyeing
Location: Kashimpur, Gazipur district, Bangladesh.
Number of employees: 767
Number of years spent on our supplier panel: 5 years
Quantity of wastewater discharged: 76,959 m3 /month
Wastewater discharged into: Turag River
Other activity/ies that use this river/waterway: agriculture, fishing


In 2015, two criteria determined supplier eligibility for our support scheme:

  • use of a manufacturing process with a high water pollution risk compared with other processes used to make Decathlon products, such as dyeing, tannery, washing and stonewashing, and surface treatments. We have around 400 such suppliers fitting this scenario.
  • Water treatment conducted on site with own in-house system, before discharging wastewater into the environment: 70 sites fall into this category.

These sites must now meet our quality criteria for wastewater, as stipulated in our specifications.

In 2016, an analysis will be carried out to examine the risks posed by suppliers not part of the scheme, and to adapt resources.


production sites were involved in 2015


Environmental assessments are conducted by internal assessors who have received training in audit and sampling techniques and in wastewater management skills.
As with working conditions, these assessments are conducted before embarking on any kind of business relationship, and are carried out at regular intervals.

This straightforward, practical water pollution strategy has brought our production teams closer together in the interests of environmental management. We will be able to push ahead with this drive in order to tackle other types of pollution, such as soil and air pollution, extending it to include even more subcontractors.

Jérémie Piolet, environment project leader and project manager



Our specifications include 15 different parameters for testing, covering the key risks for local residents. Each parameter tested must comply with the strictest limit between that laid down by local regulations and that stipulated by Decathlon. To ensure compliance with these specifications, the auditor takes various treated water samples and sends them to an external laboratory. The results are then returned to the supplier within a fortnight. In the event of non-compliance with the specified limits, our on-site teams will help the subcontractor to correct the problem.

Changes to our specifications governing wastewater

Our specifications cover the main hazardous chemicals responsible for water pollution. From 2017, our specifications will refer to international wastewater quality standards defined by the World Bank. Furthermore, we are monitoring the progress made by the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) working group, which is publicly financed, and involves certain hazardous substances. We will be studying the feasibility of integrating these substances into our specifications in 2017.

candice lee
Supplier assessments: a view from the field Candice Lee: Sustainable Development in Production manager
  • During a supplier assessment, you identified a problem with the quality of wastewater after treatment. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

    Yes, we took a water sample after the water treatment plant stage, and analysed it. One of the substances mentioned in our specifications was present in a quantity that exceeded the limit authorised by local regulations. Site managers were surprised, as they analyse samples twice a year using an external laboratory, and they had always had satisfactory results that fulfilled our criteria.

  • Do you know what caused this non-compliance?

    Together with the subcontractor, we realised that the leaching bed used to treat residual chemicals organically had been damaged following an earthquake, and that heavy rainfall had washed away half of the remaining bacteria.

  • What solution did you implement to ensure that this wouldn’t happen again?

    The subcontractor started by repairing the leaching bed, and we agreed to appoint a wastewater treatment plant manager to carry out regular water quality checks and respond in the event of a problem. The subcontractor's response was excellent, as having one member of the site team managing the technical structure on a daily basis is an effective long-term solution. We would highly recommend it as a way of anticipating non-compliance issues.

Data sheet:
Supplier concerned: Jade Long John Enterprise Co.,
Activity: textile dyeing
Location: ChangHua county, Taiwan.
Number of employees: 160
Number of years spent on our supplier panel: 6 years
Quantity of wastewater discharged: 73.6m3 /day
Wastewater discharged into: Donggou gutter
Other activity/ies that use this waterway: Agriculture

Our priorities.

In 2016, as well as results from tested water samples, we will pay particular attention to how the water treatment plant operates, as well as storage of sludge and hazardous waste that could raise the risk of soil pollution. The aim is to prevent sludge and hazardous waste leaching out when it rains. In 2017, we hope to provide even better support, training and coaching to even more suppliers, and also to tackle the issues relating to air quality. This will depend on whether we can reinforce our operational SD in production teams in the field.

extract from information booklet issued to our subcontractors on good and bad practices for storing hazardous waste.

The design teams launched the “CO2 supercritique” project in 2015 (also known as the “Dry Dyed©”* process). This process works as a closed cycle operation to dye a textile component without using water.

Find out more about eco-design in Decathlon products


In 2015, teams identified a series of good practices and laid down the minimum requirements in terms of water quality. They summarised their observations in the audit grid introduced in 2015. This grid is linked to a survey and to a decision-making process:

0620_bareme sstraitant_en

If results do not meet the required standards (score E), the supplier has 6 months to identify the cause and correct the problem, with the help of our on-site teams. If the subcontractor is new, we refrain from going into business with them until compliance is achieved.

Our results Since the scheme was rolled out in 2014
54suppliers (as of 31/12/2015)

were assessed on the quality of their wastewater (17 of which were in 2015). 90% comply with our specifications, i.e. 77% of suppliers involved in this scheme, on the basis of subcontractors still listed on DECATHLON's supplier panel as of 31/12/2015.

Discussions between our SD in Production managers based in India and the wastewater treatment plant manager, Northern India.