Eco-Design: How Decathlon Products Are Made

We have been designing sports and outdoor gear since 1986. For 40 years, Decathlon has led the way toward high-quality, low-cost products, but we also take pride in making sure our products are responsible for the planet.

Eco-Design: How Decathlon Products Are Made

We’re here to tell you more about how we take our environmental impact into consideration when we design our products!

OUR COMMITMENTS IN ECO-DESIGN

It’s not only our goal to offer our customers high-performance sports and outdoor products, our design teams are committed to developing them with a more environmentally friendly approach. We call this eco-design.

THE ECO-DESIGN APPROACH

Eco-design consists of taking the environment into account from the first design stages and throughout the entire product's life cycle.

In practical terms, it's about thinking through how to make it possible to reduce a product’s impact on the environment during its whole lifespan.

A product conceived or redesigned through eco-design approach must still fulfill the same function as a non eco-designed product, while reducing its environmental impact: an eco-designed running t-shirt remains before everything else a good running t-shirt!

A PRODUCT'S LIFE CYCLE

We must take into consideration all the phases that a product goes through in its entire life cycle.

A product's life cycle

Raw materials: extraction and treatment

Production: manufacturing techniques

Transport: from production location to its distribution location

Distribution: sales location and mode

Use: usage, washing and maintenance

Extended life: repair, recycling, destruction


    OUR ECO-DESIGN CRITERIA

    Don’t just take our word for it. We must measure our eco-design impacts.

    Our design teams established a rigorous framework to define what qualifies as eco-design. The products that classify must meet at least one of these criteria:

    1. Reducing its environmental impact by at least 10% with the previous model for at least two of the following indicators: climate change, air pollution, water pollution and resource depletion.
    1. It must meet certain specific design endeavors like: at least 70% of the product weight made using recycled polyester, a fabric made with at least 90% organically grown cotton, less water-intensive dyes, etc.
    OUR ECO-DESIGNED MATERIALS 

    Part of rethinking design is rethinking our materials. By leaning into recycled, upcycled and creative production techniques, we are reducing our reliance on exhaustible resources and reducing our environmental impact.

    Recycled Polyester: Polyester, a petroleum-based synthetic material, is traditionally derived from natural resources. By salvaging waste products, and recycling them, we are able to create polyester without drawing from any raw natural resources.

    Cotton: Cotton farming requires large quantities of water and land. Because it’s easy prey for many insects, cotton is also very difficult to farm without the use of pesticides. Two types of sustainably-sourced cotton we use in our eco-design products include:

    • Organically Grown Cotton: Derived from non-GMO seeds without the use of any chemicals, organic cotton farming requires constant supervision and yields much smaller harvests. Organic cotton farming only represents .4% of worldwide cotton production.
    • Recycled Cotton: Derived from fabric offcuts or clothes, we blend the fibers of recycled cotton with virgin cotton to create yarns suitable to knit or use in weave fabric. By blending the old with the new we are cutting back on resource consumption.

    Recycled Plastic: Plastic is derived from petrol, a diminishing and exhaustible natural resource. At the end of its first life cycle, we grind and melt down select plastics to create new products. While collecting and melting down used plastic has an energy cost, the cost is substantially less than the amount of energy expended in the initial extraction and plastic production process. Plastic is not an endlessly renewable resource, it can only be recycled so many times, so at Decathlon, we continue to explore ways to scale back on plastic use, utilizing other more renewable resources instead.

    Dope Dyed Fabric: "Dope dyeing" is a process for dyeing a fabric that integrates color directly into the yarn as it's being made. This saves both energy and water. When compared to traditionally-dyed yarn, dope dyed yarn has the same physical properties, and unlike products made from regular yarn, no matter how many times you wash dope dyed products, they will never lose their color. A lengthened life cycle means a reduced carbon footprint and a more sustainable product.

    Biton: In order to dye the yarn found in traditional fabrics a lot of water and heat is required, resulting in high energy consumption and significant CO2 emissions. Biton (bi-ton) is a fabric made from weaving one colored thread (horizontal) and one non-colored (vertical) thread together. The grid pattern generated from this process produces a more eco-friendly fabric with a reduced carbon footprint.

    TAKING IT FURTHER

    We are well aware that plenty remains to be done to reduce our environmental impact and we are determined to continue to act in support of change.

    Today, the main constraints can be found at the level of the evaluation of products and their materials, and more specifically regarding the choice of alternative materials. We have to be certain that a material replacing another has to be less impactful, less polluting. To achieve this, we rely on external studies and tests, which we have to guarantee the reliability and independence of the results.

    Our products must satisfy numerous qualitative and technical requirements. The alternatives are not always technologies that have yet reached maturity on the market. We use, for example, organic cotton for some of our products, whose farming provides lower yields. Consequently, the amount of cotton available on the market is less substantial than conventionally grown cotton.

    Today, over 500 products developed with an eco-design approach are available in our stores and on our website. However, they only represent a small percentage of our product range. With Decathlon design teams understanding the challenges of climate change and resource depletion, their goal is to achieve 100% product development with an eco-design approach by 2026.

     

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