Adidas has finally pledged to phase out all hazardous chemicals in its own supply chain and develop an industry roadmap to tackle Greenpeace's 'detox' challenge to high street clothing brands.
The world's second-largest sportswear brand committed to a zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020 this week, following similar commitments by Nike and Puma.
As revealed by BusinessGreen, Adidas has been in constant talks with other brands in a bid to create a cross-industry standard after a major Greenpeace campaign revealed the extent to which hazardous chemicals are used in textile manufacturing.
Unlike its rivals, Adidas had refused to individually commit to a date by which it would clean up its supply chain, insisting the problem needed to be tackled at an industry level.
Adidas yesterday announced it has recruited other brands that will gather for an industry forum in Amsterdam at the end of this month to develop a roadmap that will address the "zero discharge" challenge posed by Greenpeace.
A company spokeswoman remained tightlipped about which brands will attend the forum, although early talks had included Pentland, which makes Lacoste shoes, H&M, Nike and Puma.
"We started to exchange ideas and action plans with other brands, industry peers and experts over the last couple of weeks and feel we are now well positioned to work towards the same goal together, she said. "As a result, we now feel ready for committing to a concrete timeline that will be supported by the entire industry."
The commitment follows a high-profile campaign by Greenpeace for high street brands to phase out the use of hazardous chemicals in the supply chain.
The first Dirty Laundry report found that a number of brands were linked to Chinese manufacturers that had been accused of spilling harmful chemicals into local water supplies. The second report found the presence of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) in items of clothing bought in the EU bearing labels from brands such as Adidas, H&M and Abercrombie & Fitch.
Following the release of the reports, a number of other clothing brands have also publicly engaged in the detox challenge, including Lacoste, G-Star Raw, Uniqlo and Chinese sports brand Li Ning.
Greenpeace welcomed Adidas's commitment, particularly because it stated some very specific and immediate actions. These included an NPE phase-out map based on a 'no safe levels' approach, and a commitment to work with all levels of its supply chain.
Adidas also agreed to address the principle of the 'right to know' by ensuring full transparency about the chemicals being released from its suppliers' factories.
The company has promised to deliver a detailed plan within the next seven weeks.
Adidas has insisted it had not bowed to pressure to maintain its reputation, despite Greenpeace's attempts to provoke rivalry between Nike and Adidas at an FC Barcelona versus Real Madrid football match.
"We have been clear with Greenpeace from the beginning and have always said we need an industry-wide solution in order to succeed -- there can be no winners unless the industry acts together," the spokeswoman said.
Greenpeace UK campaigner Tamara Stark said she hoped the commitments would prompt other brands to follow suit.
"Now the market leaders have blazed a trail for the industry to follow, we'll be making sure the pack maintain the pace as they race towards zero," she said. "All around the world, the consumers of both its products and its pollution deserve nothing less than full transparency and a total detox."
This article originally appeared on BusinessGreen, and is reprinted with permission.
Photo CC-licensed by Niek Beck.