Get to know our products inside out
You may have already noticed it on our website: our products' carbon footprint is now available on almost every one of them. What does that mean? What and for who is it of use? How do we go about it? We'll explain everything! It's because, at Decathlon, we design our products that it's possible for us to be one of the only companies to be able to share specific data about their carbon footprint.
Carbon footprint, CO2E: let's clear things up
When referring to carbon footprint, we are talking about the impact of climate change. We calculate it by measuring all greenhouse gases (nitrogen, methane, carbon dioxide …) emitted by the product throughout the stages of its life cycle. To simplify understanding of this footprint, we convert these gases and also their impact into a kg equivalent. That is why we refer to it in kg CO2e, with the small “e” following the CO2 meaning “equivalent”.
Why ”kg CO2e”?
It is a unit created by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) to compare, on the same scale, different greenhouse gases and provide a clear idea of a product or service's impact.
For example, the IPCC estimates that 1 ton of methane (which is a greenhouse gas) is on average 28 times greater in terms of pollution and global warming than 1 ton of CO2.
If we summarize: 1 ton of methane is, therefore, counted as the equivalent of 28 tons of CO2 in a environmental impact calculation. It, therefore, means that 1 ton of methane = 28 tons of CO2e.
How do you make sense of this?
Now that we know what we are talking about, it's important to help you understand the different scales. Just giving you a number is not enough. You have to be able to compare it to others to understand it.
To give you an idea, here are a few examples of comparisons with a car journey according to the ADEME's (French government's Ecological Transition Agency) Carbon© database:
• 1 Kg CO2e = 3 miles in gas-driven car
• 10 Kg CO2e = 31 miles in gas-driven car
• 50 Kg CO2e = 155 miles in gas-driven car
• 100 Kg CO2e = 310 miles in gas-driven car
• 500 Kg CO2e = 1553 miles in gas-driven car
• 1000 Kg CO2e = 3106 miles in gas-driven car
But 600 miles in a gas-driven car is enormous right?
You'll see that in our product files, the amount of kg CO2e can sometimes seem quite substantial. That is why it is necessary to put it into perspective. You can well imagine that manufacturing a bike is a lot more impactful than a t-shirt. It can be explained by the materials used in the design of a product (and, in particular, the quantity, and therefore its overall weight), its manufacturing process, or product care steps.
On average, the impact of a “basic” t-shirt (in other words, without too many technical specifications) is around 8.79 kg CO2e. On average a bike is more likely to be approximately 96 kg CO2e (it all depends, of course, on the bike model). As you can see, the footprint is considerably different.
To get a clearer idea, here are a few averages of the impact per product:
• Plastic water bottle: 1.13 Kg (2.5 lbs) CO2e
• Helmet: 3.77 Kg (8.3 lbs) CO2e
• T-shirt: 8.79 Kg (19 lbs) CO2e
• Shoes: 12.28 Kg (27 lbs) CO2e
• Backpack 19.38 Kg (43 lbs) CO2e
• Trousers: 20.29 Kg (44.7 lbs) CO2e
• Jacket: 30.70 Kg (67.7 lbs) CO2e
• Bike: 96 Kg (211.6 lbs) CO2e
It is also important to take into consideration other factors. A bike's lifespan is, for example, a lot longer than that of a t-shirt. (proof of which is provided by the fun we still have refurbishing our grandparents' bikes!). On top of being repaired hundred's of times, it can also become your equipment for getting around every day, helping you to reduce your own carbon footprint.
How and why do we evaluate our products?
The environmental assessment is an approach that consists of precisely measuring what will be the impact on the environment throughout all the stages of its life cycle (climate change, depletion of fossil fuels, water pollution, etc.). When assessing a product, we subsequently take into consideration the extraction of raw materials, its transport to the factory that transforms it, the transformation itself, the manufacturing, the transport of the end product, and its use until the end of its life cycle.
To assess a product, we rely on existing data from the ADEME, an independent agency funded by the French government. It guarantees the impartiality and accuracy of the data supplied. These data allow us to say which component, material or manufacturing process emits this amount of CO2. To keep things simple: we start off with a product, which we know all the stages of the life cycle because we designed it. We then put it up for comparison with the data supplied by the ADEME. And this is how we work out the product's impact.