Product creation

Green products

adidas Better Place

image of adidas better place trainers

Better Place was started in 2007 as an adidas brand initiative to help guide and encourage the creation of more sustainable products without compromising functional and quality performance. To do that, the programme tools set environmental performance benchmarks products need to qualify for to achieve the Better Place standard.

The development of the sustainable product guidelines within adidas - the Better Place Apparel, Footwear and Hardware Tools - was a response to the absence of a single global standard that defines what it meant to create sustainable products. So the goal was to demand sustainability at the same level as adidas requires of product performance.

In constructing the Tools, existing environmental product standards, product examples from around the globe, leading edge materials and construction technologies were evaluated to establish meaningful and applicable guidance for designers, developers and materials sourcing for their decision-making. They also cover adidas Group mainstream standards as defined in the adidas Group's policy on restricted substances as well as Environmental Guidelines that supplier factories are required to adhere to.

The Tools award points to each process or material based on its ability to improve against a set of environmental criteria. In the Footwear Guideline Tool, a weighting system is applied, which gives large parts (outsoles, base uppers) and large processes (pattern efficiency) more points when they reduce waste or energy than the smaller processes (closures, laces).

The Apparel Tool is based upon the same principle, with large processes carrying more weight, and action required in these areas for the product to pass minimum level.

Points are then totalled up, and a product is ranked against three levels:

  • Baseline level, containing a minimum of 5% sustainable content or process improvements
  • Competitive, requiring a majority of sustainable content or process improvements
  • Technically advanced in the area of sustainability, with 100% sustainable content and technology innovations.

After reviewing this methodology against industry experts, adidas created the first generation of Better Place products which was released in the marketplace in January of 2009.

Consumer communication

Better Place products are identified in stores by a special hangtag or shoe box, both of which are made from 100% recycled paper and free of glues. Further information about this concept is provided through a dedicated Better Place website.

Every season the Better Place concept is integrated into more sports categories and more products. It is our target that by 2012 100% of adidas athletic footwear products and an increasing amount of adidas apparel products will pass the Better Place's baseline level.

The numbers of products that have passed the baseline are shown in the table below:

Product category 2009 2010 2011 (forecast)
Footwear (in million pairs) 9.5 23.7 56
Apparel (in million units) 5.9 6.7 10.7
Reading this report

Performance counts and reporting is about making performance clear to readers.

So in this year's report each page identifies which Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) indicators it addresses, complementing the GRI Index.