Back in June, Adidas announced that it was joining forces with Bluesign Technologies to audit the use of chemicals through its supply chain. Like most large clothing brands, Adidas has faced criticism in the past for using dyes and compounds that sit less than happily with the environment. Bluesign have made their name for their work in assessing chemicals in complex manufacturing processes, and suggesting alternatives that will have less of an ecological impact.
The results of that initial consultation are in, and the announcement has caused eyebrows to lift across the eco and fashion comment-o-verse. Last week Adidas declared that they would only be using Bluesign-approved chemicals in its production lines worldwide. They will audit the white-listed chemicals that its suppliers currently use, then set tight deadlines to switch the remainder over to Bluesign's recommendations. Training in the implementation and use of these chemicals will also take place. There's a tight turnaround at the heart of Adidas' roadmap: they plan to be PFC-free by 2017.
Frank Henke, vice president of social and environmental affairs at Adidas, said,
“Sporting goods companies face many common issues, often complex and technical ones such as managing the chemicals used in manufacturing products. So it makes sense to join forces with other parties in the industry to tackle them.”Many of the major sporting goods manufacturers are taking giant steps to change their game when it comes to environmental issues, but Adidas has to be one of the front-runners. After signing up to Greenpeace's Detox initiatve, they're on target to achieve full supply-chain transparency by 2020, with some key milestones, including the release of discharge data from 99 percent of its Chinese suppliers by the end of this year.
This is all big news, and shows a major sea change in the way huge fashion houses do business. By pledging to make massive changes to the chemicals they use, and by being transparent about the way those changes are being implemented, they are suddenly ticking all the boxes marked "ethical fashion". Change is happening, and my goodness, it's happening fast.