Product safety is an imperative. As a company we have to manage the risk of selling defective products that may result in injury to consumers and/or impair our image. To mitigate this risk, we have company-wide product safety policies in place that ensure we consistently apply physical, chemical product safety and conformity standards across all brands of the company. To ensure product quality and consumer-safe products, all materials and product samples have to pass a rigid compliance process and are tested in accordance with standardised material and product testing specifications and procedures.
Dedicated teams monitor the quality of our products on all levels of the supply chain through rigorous testing prior to production, close cooperation with suppliers throughout the manufacturing process, random testing after retail delivery, open communication about defective products and quick settlement of product liability claims when necessary.
Besides ensuring safe and environmentally sound products within our core product ranges, we constantly monitor and educate branded product areas that may have special risk profiles. These areas range from promotional items with bioactive textiles (ones that can interact with living organisms) to personal protective equipment, electronic devices and children’s and babies’ clothing.
We constantly track legal developments in the area of product safety and, where necessary, update our policies and manuals, as we have done in the area of children’s clothing.
Young children need special attention during their activities, and the clothes they wear must provide an extremely high level of safety. Drawstrings, cords and hoods have for years been reported to be able to cause serious accidents, and decoration materials, stickers and buttons can become a serious choking hazard when they come loose.
But also general garment properties such as flammability are important parameters for safe and sophisticated products. adidas' 'Global Apparel Safety Manual for Children's Clothing' combines the strictest laws and regulations from major regions such as the EU and the US. Safety first! All new intelligent construction details and applications that are key to marketing children's apparel ranges have to follow these specific requirements.
Restricted substances are those that cause harm or are suspected to cause harm to human health or the environment. Our approach is that suppliers must avoid the use of possible harmful substances to ensure that our products are environmentally safe. We review and update our standards and policies on restricted substances – the A-01 Requirements – on an annual basis, to make sure that they are following state-of-the-art scientific findings, and we are consistently executing them to the highest standard.
We also continuously adjust our policies and internal guidelines in keeping with developing requirements such as the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), the EU system for Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), the Korean KC mark and other country-specific requirements. We issue new information, amendments and guidance material, and all adidas entities and product divisions implement this on a continuous basis.
Not only do we regularly consult with scientists and other experts about new legal requirements, requests from consumer groups or critical materials, we also regularly inform our material suppliers about new scientific findings and developments. They in return must prove that materials comply with our standards by providing test reports from independent external test institutes on a regular basis. Development and production samples are checked randomly.
To further strengthen our programmes, adidas is an active member in the Apparel & Footwear International Restricted Substances (RS) Management Working Group (AFIRM), which we co-founded in 2004, together with six other international brands.
The term 'nanotechnology' is not 100% defined. The current common understanding is the application of particles with a diameter of <100 nanometres (nm). Nanotechnologies have been used for quite a long time in several product categories, such as food, cosmetics, medical applications, household devices, inks and certain textile applications.
Nano-sized material is characterised by an extreme ratio between 'big' surface and 'small' volume. This ratio causes very high activity and provides physical, chemical, electronic or optical properties which may totally differ from the same material in regular macroscopic size.
One of the uses of nano-sized materials in footwear, apparel and accessories is to enhance product performance by increasing liquid repellency.
In close consultation with scientific experts and key stakeholders, adidas is constantly reviewing relevant information about manufacturing and use of nanotechnologies and nanoparticles to understand all aspects and concerns that might derive from the wider application of this technology with regard to people and the environment. This includes assessing possible impacts on our programmes for active consumer protection and health & safety for our workforce and workers in supplier factories, as well as the impact on our environmental initiatives. We have been carefully studying and reviewing official publications of the US and German Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) describing potential risk scenarios.
All studies report that nanoparticles are not expected to cause any potential risk. It is the so-called 'free nanoparticles' which raise concerns. These may occur during processing, usage, ageing or degradation of nanomaterials. 'Free nanoparticles' have to be seen as impurities or residues similar to what appears within a lot of chemical preparations and their base chemicals. Currently, there is no information about recommended threshold limits. adidas products do not contain intended and verifiable free nanoparticles.
At adidas, nano-sized structures are used only in very individual cases, such as P2i’s ion-mask™ technology specifically for golf shoes, as functional product features like water-repellent coatings or finishes.
A detailed description of this technology can be found on the P2i website.