Despite promoting a healthier lifestyle, it would seem the brands included in this report don’t value the environment’s health, with over half of the companies rated receiving a worst Ethical Consumer rating for environmental reporting.
In order to achieve a best rating in our Environmental Reporting category, a company must clearly demonstrate that it understands its main environmental impacts. In this market, this includes understanding the impacts of materials used in production – especially the pollution and toxics issues associated with the leather, glue and dye industries. A company must also have two quantified and dated environmental targets and have its report independently verified.
Smaller companies providing an environmental alternative are exempt from this category.
The following brands scored a worst rating for Environmental Reporting but did at least demonstrate a reasonable understanding of their environmental impacts: Mizuno, Brooks, Puma and Pentland (Ellesse, Speedo).
Ronhill, Wolverine, Amer Sports, Umbro, Fila, Diadora, Mizuno and Sports Direct (Muddyfox, Slazenger, USA Pro) either failed to produce an environmental report or hadn’t demonstrated a reasonable understanding of their key environmental impacts.
New Balance, adidas and Nike all received a middle rating for Environmental Reporting, as they had demonstrated a reasonable understanding of their environmental impacts and had environmental targets. However, their reports were not independently verified.
ASICS also received a middle rating for having its report independently verified and having dated targets, but it failed to get a best rating as it did not demonstrate a reasonable understanding of its key environmental impacts.
The following brands scored best for Environmental Reporting, all had a turnover of less than £8 million and provided either a social or environmental alternative: Yew, Gossypium, Earth Couture, Paramo and Howies.
The use of nanotechnology
For the environmentally conscious athlete, the issue of nanotechnology is particularly troublesome.
Nanotechnology is a subject of concern for environmental and health campaigners due to the release of nanoscale particles without full knowledge of the effects of many chemicals at nanoscale on the human body, animals and the environment.
The following companies were therefore marked down under Pollution and Toxics as they were found to be selling clothing that used nanotechnology: Nike, Sports Direct and Hi-Tec.
Issues with cotton sourced from Uzbekistan
Cotton sourcing is a hot topic in the clothing sector, due to the workers’ rights issues associated with its production, particularly in Uzbekistan, as well as the prevalence of GM cotton and the wide-spread use of toxic pesticides.
According to the Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website, Uzbekistan is the fourth largest exporter of cotton in the world, and every year the government forcibly mobilises over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. ASI also say that Europe is the biggest single destination for Uzbek cotton. Companies that do not have a system in place to ensure that their cotton is not sourced from Uzbekistan lose half a mark under the Workers’ Rights category.
Cotton is said to cover 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land and yet uses 16% of the world’s insecticides, more than any other major crop. As a result, companies that do not source 100% organic cotton lose half a mark under the Pollution and Toxics category.
You can read more about Uzbek cotton in feature on cotton production.
Issues with cotton sourced from Xinjiang, China.
The End Uyghur Forced Labour (EUFL) says that there is evidence of the Chinese government using “forced labour as a means of social control” for Uyghur Muslims throughout the cotton-producing Uyghur region of Xinjiang.
Brands are being urged to cut ties with the Xinjiang Uyghur Region of China as a result. Find out more in our feature on Uyghur Muslims.
We’ve rated all the companies on their toxic chemicals policies, using our own rating system, because of the number of hazardous chemicals, such as PFCs, PVC, dyes and adhesives, used in the clothing and footwear industries.
A strong policy on toxics would include:
- a priority list of hazardous chemicals (HC's)
- a set of clear targets to remove discharge of all HC's (with dates)
- a requirement that suppliers disclose data on release of HC's
- publicly disclosed data on the HC's used and progress towards removing them
- a discussion of alternatives to current HC's used (ie. not reducing their use, but replacing them)
Only six of the companies on the table above received a best rating in this category (sign in and click the "more detail" button on the table to see how each company scored)
Greenpeace Detox Campaign
Three companies featured in our guides – adidas, Puma and Nike – were also ranked by Greenpeace but none of these companies were considered to be ‘Detox leaders’ and didn't score top marks.