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Adidas Works Toward Transparency with New Sustainability Partnerships

The Adidas Group is tending to its green practices with two new sustainability partnerships.

On the heels of Greenpeace’s request for Adidas to come clean following its investigation into hazardous chemicals in 2014 World Cup gear, the athletic goods behemoth has announced yesterday a new plan for eliminating hazardous chemicals from its products and processes.

In collaboration with Greenpeace’s Detox campaign, Adidas revealed a roadmap to eliminate per-and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) and set key milestones to achieve full supply-chain transparency. As part of the agreement, Adidas will ensure 99 percent of its products are PFC-free by 2017, leading to full elimination by 2020.

PFCs are known to accumulate in the environment and negatively impact human immune and reproductive systems and can lead to thyroid disease. Currently the brand uses PFCs in the manufacturing of their clothing and footwear as a way to keep them dirt- and water-resistant.

Manfred Santen, Detox campaigner at Greenpeace Germany, said the announcement from Adidas represents a major step toward a toxic-free future. “This credible approach with achievable milestones shows Adidas is back onside with Detox,” he added.

Additionally, Adidas said it plans to achieve full supply-chain transparency by 2020. The company will publish discharge data from 99 percent of its Chinese suppliers by the end of this year, and 80 percent globally by mid-2016.

The decision to reveal such information backs Greenpeace’s “Right-to-Know” initiative to inform local communities and the brand’s customers about potentially hazardous materials. “This is a victory for Adidas’ customers, for the local communities forced to live with toxic water pollution and for our future generations. Global brands like Adidas have the power and the responsibility to help us kick out these dangerous chemicals for good,” Santen said.

To help achieve its goal of full transparency, Adidas has tapped Bluesign Technologies, a leading independent auditor of manufacturing processes and provider of assessment tools for the textile industry, to establish a more transparent chemical management strategy for the company.

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Bluesign’s system, focused on screening and managing chemical input at the supplier level, is aimed at improving multiple layers of Adidas’ manufacturing process, including more responsible use of resources, effective management of restricted substance and the elimination of hazardous chemicals in the supply chain.

Frank Henke, Adidas Group vice president of global social and environmental affairs, said the partnership with Bluesign Technologies will bring the group’s chemical management programs to the “next level.”

Adidas suppliers across the globe will be able to access information on sustainable textile chemistry for processes spanning pretreatment to finishing, ultimately resulting in the manufacturing more sustainable materials. All materials will have to comply with rigorous tests to verify compliance with Bluesign criteria.