Help each customer consciously make their choice: that is the goal of environmental labelling. A rating that goes from A to E makes it easier to understand each product's environmental impact.
What is environmental labelling ?
To help make an informed choice, we have developed an environmental assessment. It helps to compare the environmental impact of different products in the same category.
By the end of 2019, 61.1% of our products (clothing, shoes, other textiles) benefit from environmental labelling.
This results in a calculated rating from A to E, which considers the product's entire life cycle: choice of raw materials, manufacturing, transport, end of life ...
The calculation method
We use a functional unit to assign a product rating.This unit of measurement evaluates the service delivered by the product. In plain language, what does the product provide the user with? According to the ’ADEME's (French Sustainable Transition Agency) frame of reference, the calculation considers five questions:
- The product's function or service: what?
- The function or service's range: how much?
- The level of quality wanted: how?
- The product's lifespan: how long?
- The CPA code(s) (Classification of products by activity in the economic community): which CPA code(s)?
The products are, obviously, classed by category. As a reminder, the three categories that have an environmental rating, for the time being, are clothing, shoes, and other textiles.
Its story at decathlon
DECATHLON designs its own products since 1986. In 2008, it dawned on our teams: what is our products' environmental impact? At the same time, environmental labellingv was emerging, thanks to French regulations coming out of the Grenelle environmental summit in France. DECATHLON decided to get involved in a pilot project with ten other retailers in the retail sector. What then followed was an experiment led by the French Ministry of the Environment and Social Solidarity, in which 168 companies volunteered to take part.
In the years that followed, DECATHLON carried on its involvement in experimentation, which then became European. We launched consumer studies to best answer our customers' needs, and develop partnerships. We also worked hand in hand with the ADEME and the French Ministry's of Sustainable Transition. Endeavours that helped us test, survey and adapt eco-labelling entering a dynamic of continual improvement. Our goal: help consumers make their choice by making environmental information easy to understand and visible.
In 2014, we integrated the environmental calculation in our design tools to boost eco-design.
In 2017, we took part in the creation of an Environmental textile database with the French government’s Sustainable Transition Agency (ADEME). It was made available to everyone and is now the sector's reference.
In 2019, eco-labelling came into effect for over 3,500 DECATHLON products. A figure that doubles each year. A roll-out hailed by the French government recognising DECATHLON as a trailblazer with this system.
In 2020, our team in charge of the project was, by the way, invited by the Secretary of State, Brune Poirson, to present it during the press conference at the French Ministry of Sustainable Transition.
Our system, put together with the ADEME having proved its worth, the French government decided to include it in the law against waste for a circular economy announced at the start of the year. This will become compulsory for all clothing companies in several months.
The project's difficulties
Despite how useful this subject is and our best intentions, a project of this scale also has problems to tackle:
- Access to data, in particular, industrial processes, which were not always available. We subsequently had to start from a blank sheet, which represented a significant investment on the part of the teams involved.
- the issue's complexity. Lots of research and calculations are hidden behind eco-labelling. This obviously requires skills, and devoting time and energy.
- our in-house data on design to be able to establish labelling. Before measuring our processes and their impact, we first had to understand them. This required teams to work collaboratively.
- several people needed training, such as engineers, to evaluate the environmental impacts, and product managers, to integrate it in the specifications. We once again, had to start from scratch because teams were not really being coordinated based on environmental criteria.
- being a pioneer is a source of pride, as well as being difficult: consumers cannot currently find this labelling everywhere and subsequently compare the different retailers.
The next steps
Our ambition is to feature environmental labelling on 100% of our clothing, footwear and other textiles by 2022. Numerous teammates convinced of the project's necessity, are committed and work every day to achieving this goal. It's thanks to them that we are moving in the right direction.
We also want to fully integrate environmental labelling and, subsequently, the product's life cycle to our business model. It will also mean the development of product repair and hire.
Lastly, we hope that the environmental labelling system will become more accessible throughout Europe thanks to a shared database. We'll be speaking to the European Commission to demonstrate the usefulness and importance of this project.