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Methodology Paper for Product Carbon Footprint Calculation: ‘Made with a Lower Footprint'

Scope and goal of Product Carbon Footprint Calculation (PCFC)
 
The methodology used for adidas’ PCFC follows a Cradle-to-Grave approach, which means that all life cycle stages have been included: from raw materials extraction and processing, production of materials and components, assembly, packaging, transportation, use and end of life. 
 
The PCFC methodology is aligned with the standard ISO 14067:2018 and follows, when relevant, the recommendations of the Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) for Apparel and Footwear, currently under development¹. The methodology approach has been reviewed by the sustainability consulting group Quantis (see Review Statement). 
 
Functional Unit
 
The functional unit describes the service that needs to be delivered by the product under scope. The adidas PCFC uses ‘one product’ as Functional Unit. 
 
CategoryAspect detailDescription
WhatFunctionalityTo provide an apparel or footwear product to meet the consumer’s specific needs (specific to sub-categories).
How muchMagnitude (one pair)One apparel product, one pair of socks or one pair of footwear as defined by a bill of materials (BOM).
How wellPerformanceWear in good condition with appropriate use for the given product, as defined per sub-category.
How longLifespanThe lifetime of the product, defined by the number of care cycles per lifetime in the PEFCR, differentiated by sub-category.

The reference flow is the amount of product needed (product weight in grams) to fulfil the defined function and it’s measured in the entire life cycle of the specific apparel or footwear product studied. All quantitative input and output data collected in the study are calculated in relation to this reference flow. 
 
The product carbon footprint is calculated on the adidas’ prototype size and as described below: 
 
ApparelFootwear
WomenSize SSize UK 5.5
MenSize MSize UK 8.5
Unite fitSize MN/A

If “Made with a Lower Footprint” is referenced in connection to the product, it means the product meets the following criteria: 
  • It has a lower carbon footprint relative to a baseline product. The baseline product is either a previous version of the same product or a product serving the same purpose. 
  • The carbon footprint reduction needs to be minimum 10% of the product’s entire life cycle (Cradle-to-Grave) to qualify as ‘Made with a Lower Footprint’. 
  • As per ISO 14067: 2018, carbon offsetting is not allowed in the quantification of a CFP (Carbon Footprint) or a partial CFP, reason why offsetting is out of the scope. 
 
System Boundaries
 
The system boundary of each product we assess using the PCFC is defined by the list of life cycle stages in the table below. 
 
Life Cycle StageDescription
Raw materialsExtraction of non-renewable and renewable resources, recycling of (waste) materials.
Material manufacturingYarn production, fabric construction, coloration, bottom units making for footwear.
AssemblyCutting, sewing, gluing. Primary data from supplier is used to account for impacts related with product assembly.
PackagingRaw materials and processing. Includes shoe box for footwear, polybags for apparel and all secondary packaging.
TransportationTransportation from factories to Distribution Centers, and to the final consumer, including returns (15% return rate assumed).
UseProduct care by the consumer, including washing, drying, and ironing of apparel products. For footwear, following PEFCR, no machine washing or drying are considered.
End of LifeDisposal of our products at the end of life by consumers, broken down by average waste disposal streams in our major sales countries.

 
Data Sources
 
To the extent possible, primary, and site-specific data is collected for individual processes where there is financial or operational control, including Life Cycle Assessments² (LCAs) from materials suppliers and energy consumption data from manufacturing partners. 
 
Primary data is collected directly from our suppliers. Through the Bill of Materials our suppliers provide all relevant information about the product such as materials consumption, additional information such as processes, and losses is collected separately. Same information is collected for all packaging materials. 
 
Secondary data is used for background processes where primary data is not available. The commercially available GaBi databases serve as the first source of secondary data for complementing adidas’ primary data. In case neither in primary data sources, nor in secondary data sources suitable Life Cycle Inventory³ (LCI) data is available, publicly available reports and studies are investigated and evaluated against our criteria selection to ensure alignment and comparability within the industry. 
 
 
¹ Version 1.2, July 7, 2021 
 
² Life Cycle Assessment: compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs, and the potential environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle (ISO 14040:2006) 
 
³ Life Cycle Inventory analysis: phase of the life cycle assessment involving the compilation and quantification of inputs and outputs for a product throughout its life cycle (ISO 14040:2006) 
Review Statement - Quantis 
 

adidas has developed a Product Carbon Footprint Calculator (PCFC), according to the standard ISO 14067:2018, to quantify the product carbon footprint of apparel and footwear products in cradle-to-grave system analyses. 
 
In this critical review, the adidas PCFC methodology document supporting the tool was found to be conforming to the ISO 14067 standard in terms of data selection, calculation procedures, and methodological consistency. 
 
The PCFC methodology enables consistency and reproducibility of calculations. The bespoke background database has been curated from the database of Sphera’s life cycle assessment software GaBi ts, a leading product sustainability solution, with a view to data quality and representativeness. The PCFC tool is an appropriate implementation of the methodology, as exemplified by the analyses of sample products. 
 
The concise carbon footprint results available to the consumer, including a breakdown of results into life cycle stages and a methodology summary, provide a suitable level of transparency. 
 
Based on the methodology review and the product analysis audit, we are not aware of any material modifications that should be made to the PCFC tool, and confirm that the method, data and calculations are in conformance with the requirements of ISO 14067. 

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